PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: Stop HDCP problems with this handy converter

HDCP. It’s always there. High Definition Content Protection encrypts digital signals. This makes content providers feel good about working with cable and satellite providers, but it can be a real pain in the neck for consumers. Incompatible and old equipment can mean you see nothing but black when you should be watching the stuff you’re paying for. Luckily, there’s a solution that works a lot of the time.

Pretty much all digital video today is encrypted with HDCP. There’s no way of getting around that. However, if your device still has analog out, that signal isn’t encrypted. Agreements with manufacturers mean that most disc players and streaming boxes no longer have analog outputs, but the ones that do are still out there and still work. Cable and satellite boxes are not restricted by those agreements and almost every cable or satellite box does feature high-definition component out. The key is to convert that into a signal your TV can use.

That’s where this Tech Choice 5971 Component and Digital Audio to HDMI Converter comes in. It converts analog audio and video into HDMI but leaves out the content protection. This means you’re free to use any device with an HDMI input whether it’s a PC monitor, video capture device, old TV or whatever. Just hook up the component video and audio cables on one end, hook up an HDMI cable on the other end and you’re set! Of course your device must have component video out and some sort of digital audio as well.

Component video was very popular about ten years ago because it, along with analog audio, used commonly available RCA cables for connection. The problem was, you needed five cables (three for video, two for audio) and that made for a messy install. People wanted a single-cable, pure digital solution and HDMI came about for that reason. Unfortunately, the extremely pure nature of HDMI got some people nervous; they imagined it being used for super-clean digital copies of movies and they saw profits eroding. Interestingly, these same content providers never seemed to worry much about component cables which give a very similar quality picture in most cases.

It’s true, you will probably see a quality difference between component video and true HDMI if you look closely enough, especially on a large TV. So eventually you probably want to get HDCP-compliant TVs, but in the meantime here’s a very simple solution that doesn’t cost a lot and solves a lot of troubles.