HDCP Monitor

Large computer monitors are more affordable than they have ever been, making it a very attractive option to upgrade right now. They make it possible to play high-definition Blu-ray movies on a computer without losing any of the detail, but many buyers are discovering to their horror that there are restrictions placed on the devices that play these movies. These restrictions are necessary to reduced piracy and the losses that affect everyone working in the movie industry. Anyone thinking about buying a new monitor needs to understand what High-bandwidth Digital Copy Protection (HDCP) is about and why they need to choose a HDCP monitor.

As high-definition movies become more popular, it is inevitable that the number of pirated copies will also increase. While it is hard to believe claims made by the studios about how much money they lose, there is no doubt that piracy is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Over the years, many different copy protection schemes have been tried with mixed success, and almost all have been broken by hackers soon after their launch. The weak link is often the raw data that flows through the cable between the player and the display. HDCP is one of the latest schemes that targets this problem, but there is some debate about how effective it will be. Regardless, manufacturers are pushing ahead with products that use it, such as the HDCP monitor.

In order for HDCP copy protection to work, both devices at the end of a DVI or HDMI cable need to use it. If only one device uses HDCP, the movie may be shown at a reduced resolution or not shown at all, depending on the wishes of the studio that made it. The display may even show a message about the evils of piracy, even when you are trying to play a movie that was bought legally. Fortunately, most flat screen televisions and Blu-ray players use HDCP so this problem rarely occurs. It is a different matter for computers because many video cards do not support HDCP. Even if you are using a HDCP monitor, you will still not be able to watch a Blu-ray movie in high definition if your computer has one of those cards.

HDCP works by encrypting the movie with a special data key before it leaves the player and travels through a DVI or HDMI cable. When the movie reaches the display, it is decrypted and then shown on the screen. Copying the data as it travels through the cable is pointless unless you have the key to extract the movie from it. Many other devices besides televisions and Blu-ray players now use HDCP, including the Sony PS3 PlayStation. Even many upscaling DVD players that can only simulate high definition content now use it. To share a monitor between a computer and these devices, it is critical to get a HDCP monitor to avoid the sort of problems mentioned above.

Of course, the presence of HDCP is not the only feature to look for when choosing a HDCP monitor. Ideally, its native resolution should be full high definition (1080p). The brightness and contrast ratio should be very high to make dark details more visible, and the response time should be very low to avoid motion blur. A wide viewing angle is also important because LCD displays are well known for having poor picture quality when viewed at an angle. A HDCP monitor should also have a solid stand that is fully adjustable, control buttons on the front panel, and a menu system that is easy to use.

So is it worth getting a HDCP monitor instead of a regular monitor? It does not cost any more or less so price is not really a deciding factor. If the monitor will not be used for watching Blu-ray movies then it is not really important. On a small monitor, it may not even be noticeable that HDCP has kicked in and dropped the resolution down, but it certainly will be noticeable if the screen goes blank as can happen with some movies. All things considered, choosing a HDCP monitor makes sense because this copy protection scheme is not going away anytime soon.

This HDCP Monitor Review is Written/Updated on Jun 20th, 2011 and filed under Computer Hardware. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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