Friday, March 07, 2008

HDMI in the notebook

Keith Cowal, a PC marketing manager at Dolby Labs told me today he sees a rising tide of HDMI links going into notebooks. The reasons are two-fold.

Notebooks are incorporating Blu-Ray drives and its AACS technology requires content protected interfaces such as HDM. And OEMs see users plugging notebooks into their TVs and stereos (which already have HDMI) to play Internet and packaged movies and music on the big screens and speakers. Makes sense to me.

I had thought DisplayPort won the war, but Keith says DP will mainly appear in desktops as a link to monitors. I know it will also be used as an LVDS replacement in notebooks, but that doesn't solve the mega problem of how do I play Web video on my HDMI-equipped TVs. Looks like Silicon Image may have a bigger potential revenue stream than I had expected.

A few glitches ahead: To support Dolby's TrueHD audio, you need HDMI 1.3, which is only supported in the latest chip sets. Drivers don't often do a good enough job of identifying HDMI audio interconnects to Windows, and there are still a wide variety of content protection technologies implemented on the PC including Windows' Protected Media Path. But this should all shake out in the next year, Keith says.

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