HDCP Free

I bought an HDTV years ago, before DVI or HDMI were around, so I’ve got it hooked up thru some quality component interconnects. Recently my old Toshiba DVD player died, so I needed to find a replacement. I started poking around to see what, if anything, had happened to DVD player technology in the last 3 years. The short answer is: not much.

One minor improvement is that many DVD players can now upsample the DVD video to HD resolution (720p or 1080i). Just to be clear, a DVD only contains 480 lines of pixels, so this is interpolation. A decoder chip looks at neighboring source pixels and more-or-less guesses the additional pixels. You might ask why anyone would do this, and it would be a fair question. There are a handful of reasons, but lets just take it for granted that some people would prefer 480i upsampled to 1080i, over regular 480i.

Getting to the point, the DVD Forum decided that they needed to make some rules to protect their copywritten works. One rule they made was that any digital output at HD resolution should be encrypted with HDCP. Of course, their evil customers might just grab the analog signal, so they made another rule: analog outputs should be capped at 480 lines of resolution.

So lets recap:

  • My TV is an HDTV that supports 1080i.
  • My TV is 3 years old, and only has analog component inputs.
  • Modern DVD players still have component outputs.
  • Modern DVD players have built-in scalers that upsample to 1080i.

I want to upsample to 1080i, but…

  • …the DVD Forum thinks I’m probably a criminal, so…
  • …DVD players prevent high-def analog output, however…
  • …I’m not a thief, I just don’t feel like buying a new damn TV yet.

It’s worth repeating, here, that the original source resolution is 480i. No matter how you interpolate, a DVD is not an HD source. This detail was apparently lost on the DVD Forum who weighed the utility of my expensive TV against the cost of movie piracy, and — not surprisingly — decided my needs were less important then theirs.

There’s a punchline to this whole thing:
After about 20 minutes of Googling, I discovered that some Samsung DVD players have a (not-so-secret) secret code that both disables HDCP, and enables high resolution output over the analog outputs.

I bought one.

As I used to say back in my gaming days: owned.

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2 Responses to “HDCP Free”


  1. 1 Ryan October 12, 2005 at 6:43 am

    Mark – I believe the correct term is “fucking ownnnnned” said in a similiar manner or pitch in the voice as “he stole my rocket launcher!!!”

    I apologize to all those who will not understand this.

    Mark – I am sure that you will.

  2. 2 Mark October 17, 2005 at 3:04 pm

    Hahaha…. I wonder what Rix is up to now?


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