HDCP 2.2 and the ongoing hassles of the 4K consumer experience

by on March 12, 2015

Stephan Jukic – March 12, 2015

There are a few things you need to know about HDCP 2.2 and if you’re on the market for a 4K TV or anything that’s going to connect to the one you own or want to buy, you really need to know a few things about HDCP 2.2.

Anybody who’s done their homework in looking at the 4K TVs now on the market and on devices like Set-top boxes and video cards has probably noticed the rather odd little HDCP 2.2 specification that appears in these different platforms and devices. Possibly you’ve also wondered exactly what the HDCP thing stands for. Well, it’s quite important, tricky and annoying and here is a breakdown:

The HDCP hardware encryption standard is a mechanism for protecting the content delivered to TVs and media devices from unauthorized content copying. The latest version, HDCP 2.2 is only the latest in a series of previous versions that started with the original developed by Intel all the way back in 2001. The HDCP standard is found on every major TV and video card on sale today and the latest version, 2.2 is the only one that’s compatible with 4K content due to new security reinforcements in its internal protocol.

Thus, HDCP 2.2 is what any 4K ultra HD TV worth its salt has to come with and dealing with the protocol has become quite a hassle because of this particular detail.

For starters, in order to use any sort of HDCP 2.2 enabled device or 2.2 protected content, you’ll absolutely need a 4K TV with the latest copy protection standard. If your TV doesn’t come with it, then you’re either closed off from all the latest 4K content from almost any source on the market or you’re going out and buying a whole new 4K TV that definitely does have HDCP’s latest 2.2 version in it.

The same necessity applies to almost all set-top boxes and the new 4K Blu-ray players that are coming out later this year. They will be equipped with HDCP 2.2 and your TV has to have the same to work with them for anything 4K.

Luckily, almost all name brand 4K TVs manufactured within the last year and a half have the latest copy protection standard in them. Unluckily, many name brand 4K sets from before 2014 or mid-2013 and many modern off-brand 4K TVs don’t have HDCP 2.2 yet.

Even more unfortunately, retailers often don’t bother to mention this little detail as part of their TVs’ specifications. Thus in order to be sure if the TV you want has the protocol, you have to check the back of the TV where the HDMI connections are (HDCP is supported through HDMI ports) or you’ll have to visit the manufacturers website itself and check your model’s spec there if you can find them.

Any modern 4K TV must include at least one HDCP 2.2 enabled HDMI 2.0 port

Any modern 4K TV must include at least one HDCP 2.2 enabled HDMI 2.0 port

And doing this truly is crucial, as we already mentioned above, a 4K TV without HDCP 2.2 will soon be useless for anything but Full HD content from any major source and what good is that when you’ve spent the money to get some 4K resolution into your house?

Furthermore, HDCP isn’t just something you need to be conscious of for you TV. The security standard also applies to video cards for those of you who want to try out your new ultra HD PC in full 4K resolution. Thus, again, if you’re moving in this direction, you absolutely need to get your hands on a HDCP 2.2 compliant video card to either watch 4K content on your PC monitor or a TV connected to the PC.

Likewise, the new 4K Blu-ray players that are on the way won’t work in 4K on a PC whose video card isn’t 2.2 compliant. In essence, every device through which 4K content from a major source passes to reach your screen has to have compliance with the HDCP 2.2 protocol. For the video cards in your UHD PC, just about the only model that does support the copy protection standard right now is the GTX 960 from Nvidia and it costs roughly $200, though it does offer excellent performance for that price.

Other devices, besides PC video cards and 4K TVs themselves are also affected by all this security around keeping ultra HD content safe from pirates.

Audio/Video receivers, sound systems and set-top boxes above all must have the protocol enabled if they’re going to manage 4K video streams. Furthermore, we’re also going to start seeing the 2.2 standard start appearing in streaming devices like the Amazon Fire TV and the upcoming Roku 4 streaming stick. All of these devices will have to include the standard as 4K content becomes more in-demand and in any case, you shouldn’t get any content delivery device that doesn’t include the HDCP 2.2 protocol.

Once again, the bottom line here is that, as 4K content becomes more popular, any device that passes TV from a streaming source to a TV or PC screen will have to include HDCP 2.2 in order for you to see anything on your screen.

And while this protocol will eventually become so standard in all devices that viewing 4K content in your home won’t be a problem, for the time being at least, a lot of consumers who are happy with their new 4K TV will find themselves frustrated by the need for additional upgrades.

Arriving with a new ultra HD television in their home, they’ll realize that the older, pre-2.2 media devices they have lying around have to be replaced if they want to watch the latest new TV shows from Netflix in full 4K. This is where HDCP 2.2 is now causing a lot of headaches as it slowly becomes more common but doesn’t quite reach into every commonly used home entertainment delivery device.

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  • mrsatyre
    March 16, 2015 at 9:54 am

    What’s really unfortunate is that even this newest generation of 4K displays are not 4:4:4 color space compliant. With the exception of Samsung, all other 4K display vendors are equipping their newest models with HDMI 2.0 @ 12.5 Gbps bandwidth and HDCP 2.2. Currently, only Samsung has a true 4:4:4 color space compliant display with 18 Gbps HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2.


    • Allan
      May 7, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      The latest sony 75 inch flagship has full hdr, 4.4.4 support. Im usimg it with the panasonic 900 uhd player.


  • Jim Cooper
    March 18, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    Currently, only Onkyo and Sony make a line of AV receivers that are HDCP 2.2 compliant. However, the receivers offer offer only 1 HDMI input that is HDCP 2.2 compliant. Looking to the future, will it be possible to work around this situation, if I have more than one 4K input source, say, both a 4K Bluray player and a 4K set-top cable TV box?


  • Dave
    January 18, 2016 at 12:50 am

    Now, presumably even before now, begin to do your homework fellow media junkies. I knew of this over a year ago, but I am a computer nerd…lol. Seriously, I invested in a top of the line Samsung SUHD 8000 series 55″ HDTV loaded with full bandwidth HDCP (High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection) 2.2 inputs at 4:4:4. Knowing this day would come quite soon, I started preparing! Also, recently sold my Pioneer Elite AVR (only a year old) and just purchased a 2015 model, again loaded with 4K HDCP 2.2 HDMI ports (7 of them). It became even more apparent when I also sold my Roku 3 for a Roku 4 in 4K. That 4K well known manufacturer will only play 4K content through a HDMI HDCP 2.2 compliant port. That’s sound AND video. The key is, all devices in the chain must be able to complete a handshake. Leave one out and the chain is broken. I realize I am not like 90% of the population that actually care. However, when making large financial investments in Audio Video components, this is difference between your flight taking off, (and landing on time) or being permanently grounded, so to speak. Now is the time to do your research my fellow media junkies, or get left holding a very expensive electronic device boarding pass suitable only for the recycle drop-off! Actually 6 months to 1 year back was the ideal time frame. Yes, this will upset many, and some just wont care. I am on the side of the fence that DOES care. Lastly, did you know that the Apple 4th generation Apple TV is non-compliant? Hard to believe considering all those retina type super high resolution screens they innovated and produced on the newer iPads and iPhones. Even Apple chose a shortcut with their latest version set top box. Remember this…its not a software or firmware update, its all about that HDCP 2.2 HARDWARE. I am only hoping my 4K laptop is upgradeable somehow via external USB. Don’t have an answer to that one yet!


    • tt
      May 12, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      What I don’t understand is this: We stopped the dual VCR deck copy method long ago, so why are they going through all this trouble to protect an HDMI stream that I know real pirates are not going to use to record? All the MEDIA IS OFF THE DISK now, that is the only recording I see being done by anyone using software programs. Seems more practical to protect the content on the disc itself. The 4K content could have been kept off the PC, but the format would probably wound up going the way of SACD and DVD audio, as that would make the content too proprietary. Noone would want to be left with a terabyte movie, so HDMI would not be a feasible option.


    • tt
      May 30, 2017 at 8:25 pm

      Sorry. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, BUT there will NOT be a firmware update for this problem concerning your laptop. This will be a big problem for computer hardware down the road, too. Laptops also don’t have graphics cards you can swap out, so it looks like you’re out of luck unless you can find some magic box that can somehow change the HDCP 2.2 into something prior that would make it work with your setup. Hollywood wants a HARDWARE, trusted computing platform in order to allow 4K playback for UHD. As yet, there is no UHD playback software available yet. Hollywood wanted the HDCP 2.2 protection BAKED into hardware. They didn’t want firmware updates to make it compliant, because firmware and software is not considered secure. Sure, no one (that I’m aware of) ever records off the HDMI, but it has always been this way to the likes of Hollywood. They would still force needless protection even if that wasn’t the preferred way to get to the content.


  • MEX
    February 9, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    I just purchased a Hisense 50″ model 50H7GB1 and Roku 4 in Walmart. Do I need the HDCP 2.2 HDMI Cable or can I get away with a HDCP 2.0 HDMI Cable?


    • Stephen
      February 10, 2016 at 12:00 am

      Hello Mex, for getting access to 4K UHD content from all commercial sources that we know of via HDMI connection, you’ll definitely need the HDCP 2.2 HDMI cable. HDCP 2.2 is the only content copy protection format currently used for protecting 4K content from set-top boxes, video streams and other sources like the new 4K UHD Blu-ray players. It’s a new, clean version of HDCP and designed with 4K principally in mind, going for any lesser version likely won’t work at all for 4K content in particular, though older versions of HDCP will work with Full HD content


  • 1234upyours
    March 7, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Dave, I’m really glad you have your media center, you sound like someone who would be lonely and without any friends. I’m glad 4k content will be there for you.


  • john doe
    March 26, 2016 at 7:36 am

    1234 your stupid he just saying info dammmmm


  • Michael Croft
    May 27, 2016 at 3:06 am

    Hi Have a samaung ue48JU6000 4K TV which is a 2015 model ? Can you tell me if it is has a HDCP 2.2 compliant input , as I would like to get a BT ultra HD Box which this needs . I have looked on Samsungs Website and can not find this info


  • C
    April 12, 2017 at 10:40 am

    This is so annoying, some of us with hd crt, monitors have been waiting decade(s) for 30 bit content from hollywood, Now, with our 30 bit color content monitors, were getting locked out, fo basically any good video, because hollywood wants to protect it’s materials? What about everyone deep color capable rec 709 plasmas, crts and projectors?

    All to push somebody elses agenda, which does nothing to serve customers?
    What the heck, doesn’t the consumer come first? Why unnecessarily obsolete hundreds of thousands of displays?


  • Danamea
    December 30, 2018 at 7:29 am

    In my opinion, this is less to do about Piracy and more to do with selling more hardware via the justification of Piracy.

    The old ‘Washing Machine drive belt’ trick…


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