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Big fat Philips "HDTV Ready" CRT lack HDMI

And firm's own 1080i DVD player doesn't do HD
Sun Dec 31 2006, 18:31
IN AN IRONIC TWIST on the HDMI/HDCP rights removal marchitecture, Philips Electronics is selling 1080i HDTV CRT TVs down in South America without HDMI inputs, which the firm's own DVD players need to do 1080i upscaling.

Call me old-fashioned if you want, but I bought a CRT TV. Given my freelancer budget and negative cash flow, I wanted the cheapest HDTV I could buy. And down here in this land of stone-age electronics manufacturers, that is a HDTV CRT, as the only firm currently producing HDTV tubes down here is Philips.

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Philips 29PT8422, and its side and back connectors

The others - from Samsung to LG and including TCL - are happy to sell you a big screen CRT and even throw a "free progressive scan DVD player", ignoring the fact that the standard 480i TV set they're giving you is not even capable of progressive scan.

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Philips' "HDTV Ready" CineOS CRTs product line-up
Notice the bottom row about HDMI input...

That's how I ended up buying a locally supported telly with a progressive scan tube, and one also capable of 1080i. Of course, I could have went ahead and purchased a plasma TV screen or LCD, but for the same reasons our Lynch boy explained here, I prefer a good old CRT. Yes, a big, fat tube. One of the added features of CRTs is the "make life miserable for anyone who even thinks about taking the device with them without permission". I bet that nobody can take the 99 pound beast very far as it takes two people and careful handling to move it anywhere.

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The CRT does look gorgeous when playing DVDs in EDTV / Progressive scan mode!
I wasn't able to test 1080i mode because I still lack a PS3 or Xbox 360, and HDTV is still not here...

Philips' HDTV CRT line-up in the Southern Cone region - Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay - includes four models, ranging from 28" to 34 inches. Of them, the 28" and the 32" are wide-screen, 16:9 tubes, while the 29" and the 34" are of the standard 4:3 letterbox format. The firm apparently manufactures the HD CRT tubes in Brazil, yet my unit's big fat cardboard box says it was produced - perhaps assembled - at the company's factory down in Tierra del Fuego. In any case, for some silly reasons explained -sort of here, the country has not yet chosen its HDTV standard and is caught in the middle of an intense lobbying operation by the American ATSC team, the European Inquisition DVB, and the always hopeful Japanese who continue dreaming until the last minute that they can pull a miracle out of thin air.

In other words, the shiny, new and expensive "big fat CRT TVs" are dubbed "HDTV ready" yet lack any HDTV tuners. That is not a problem per se, since there will be STBs eventually. In fact, I planned to rely on a HDTV game console like Sony's PS3 or the Xbox 360 to enjoy High Definition movies over the HD component video, providing the TV set with the 1080i signal it wants. Philips calls HD over component "HDCVI" - HD component video input. If you look at the Philips documentation, you will see that only the 16:9 32PW8422 model is shown as sporting a HDMI input socket. What made them think that a 32" one is worthy of HDMI but the firm's own 34-inch 34PT8422 is anybody's guess. Days ago, I asked Marketing Communications at Philips Argentina's Consumer Electronics division and so far I have got a deafening silence.

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"HDTV Ready", 1080i... with a game console or by hooking a PC, only?

It's highly ironic that the firm is selling "HDTV Ready" TV sets capable of 1080i and with only HD component video input, and then its own line of "upscaling DVD players" like the 5960 in the USA or its local cousin the 5965K force you to work over HDMI, a port which Philips' own HDTV sets lack in three out of four "CineOS" high-end models.

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The 1080i ready - but HDMIless - 29PT8422 next to
the 20-inch 480i from Philips that it will replace.
I'd bet my writer's hat that there's an empty space inside
for the HDMI logic/board, just not installed.

Don't get me wrong, I knew what I was getting into when I paid the wonga for the 29PT8422 and asked the seller for it. I just thought that Philips would have the decency of giving me 1080i DVD upscaling over component video on its own players. Bzzzt wrong! It seems that the firm is a sex slave of the Hollywood studios' paranoid visions of the digital world. I wonder how Hollywood was able to survive the era of Laser Discs, which, G*d Forbid, had very high quality video outputs and no content encryption and digital rights removal like HDCP.

In short: "Philips own HDTV CRTs won't talk HD with firm's own upscaling DVD players, shocker" beautiful negative headline!. I'd say this is yet another case of the "right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing" syndrome. Of course, I have alternatives. I will try to find one of those rare elusive models of DVD players were - due to some unexplained celestial phenomena - 1080i works even over component video. Or even better, dump my new shiny Philips DHCP infected DVD player and rip my whole collection of legal movies to a network hard disk, and then hook a darn PC with ATIAMD card to the TV via a DVI to Component Video adapter. Yes, that will do the trick.

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Close-up of the box showing product details

And as for Philips. Lacking any official statement, I can only guess. And right now my guess is that someone at the local subsidiary might have decided to increase the firm's profitability, and as HDMI/HDCP licenses cost a bundle, they decided to drop it from the majority of its HD TV sets, leaving it as a feature just on the 32" to please the guys who demand it. If that's the case, then shame on them. And if you think that my problem was going with Philips, think again. It seems that down here, several manufacturers are following Philips' approach to electronics design. I take last week's paper and look up a full page ad for a 40" LCD "HDTV Ready" by TCL. A blurb reads "the most advanced connectivity, with a wide range of inputs, AV, S-Video, Component, VGA, and DVI". So, no HDMI input either!.

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Lack of HDMI input seen also on 40" LCD TV by TCL
Ironically it's advertised as having the 'most advanced connectivity'

It seems to me that a lot of people are going to be disappointed when they find about the stupidity of the vast majority of the DVD player manufacturers who bow to the insane demands of the movie studios and restrict DVD upscaling -which isn't exactly HD content- to HDMI ports and refuse to let it work over component. As our Charlie has said, they are annoying legit customers and cornering people into "piracy" and the "PC approach" to multimedia content viewing, as consumer electronic appliances are more and more infected with the DRM disease. Sheesh.µ

See Also
HDMI and HDCP licenses cost $15K
Intel gets all the HDCP money
LCD manufacturers take us all for morons
The Pros and Cons of OLED displays
INQ readers say: keep the CRT!
LCD sales soar as cathode ray tubes sink
CRT monitor protection lobby grows
Matsushita waves goodbye to CRT tubes
LCD rise causes crash of two Philips CRT firms

L'INQs
HDCP is Evil
Samsung HDTV CRT (ATSC) with HDMI input
A -surprisingly expensive- $1300 CRT monitor
Upscaling DVDs to 1080i over component going away
MPEG4 might threaten HDTV standards
Sky drops Microsoft Windows Media, chooses MPEG4
Sony will not downconvert HD movies on old TV sets with component video
HD Component Video cable for the Xbox 360
DVI and HDMI versus Component Video --Which is Better?

 

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