What you need to know about HDCP 2.2 and your 4K Ultra HD TV

by on January 1, 2015

Stephan Jukic – January 1, 2015

If you’ve been looking at buying a 4K TV lately, you’ve almost certainly run across mention of something called “HDCP 2.2”. It’s a subject we’ve covered here before on at least a couple occasions and for good reason; it’s very important as a feature in your 4K TV.

What HDCP does is allow devices that support it to be compatible with numerous current and upcoming sources of 4K content in various forms. This means that unless your TV comes with the latest version of HDCP (2.2), you may not even be able to see a lot of the best and newest ultra HD content that’s available. Netflix and Amazon Prime’s 4K content offerings, for example, are closed off to devices that don’t have the HDCP feature.

Thus, it’s worth doing a little reading to understand what this feature means.

The acronym HDCP stands for high-definition-digital content protection and it covers a copyright infringement protection technology that has been used in HMDI connections on TVs for more than a decade.

The HDCP 2.2 protocol is just the latest version of this technology and it’s most commonly found in 4K TVs from pretty much any brand worth its salt. This is because the 2.2 iteration of HDCP has actually been designed specifically to deal with the copy protection of 4K ultra HD media from various sources and creates a secure connection between the source of s content stream and the display in your home via an encrypted digital “handshake”.

Without HDCP 2.2 in your TV, most 4K media sources simply won’t give you access to their streams and the lack of this latest version of HDCP in all existing 4K PCs is also the main reason why 4K PC owners can’t watch Netflix and Amazon 4K content on their computers even while it’s available to their 4K TVs.

When it comes to buying a 4K TV with HDCP 2.2, you really can’t afford to miss out on the feature being included in your purchase model. This is also why the best TVs to buy are newer models and especially those made during 2014. While many 4K TVs did come out in 2013 and have become cheaper now, a surprisingly large amount of them lacked and still lack the HDCP 4K content protection feature. What makes not buying these kinds of TVs particularly important is the fact that they also can’t be updated to now include 2.2, because it requires a physical hardware update instead of just a firmware adjustment that can be done remotely.

Furthermore, as numerous new media sources emerge in the next couple of years –including 4K Blu-ray players, media players and 4K capable satellite and TV receivers (not to mention all sorts of online streaming media and VoD 4K services—they will all come with HDCP 2.2 copy protection built into their functionality and if your 4K TV doesn’t share this, it will be closed to every single one of these expanding 4K content services.

This is not an outcome you want.

upcoming sources of UHD content like the new 4K Blu-ray players and discs will need HDCP 2.2 to work in your TV

upcoming sources of UHD content like the new 4K Blu-ray players and discs will need HDCP 2.2 to work in your TV

What’s also important to keep in mind is that HDCP 2.2 doesn’t simply apply to the source of your video and your TV itself. It also affects all other components in the entire signal chain that finishes up with your screen. This means that if you run your HDMI 2.0 connection for streaming 4K media through a home theater receiver or a sound system, it will also need to have HDCP 2.2 compatibility. If any device in your entertainment technology chain isn’t HDCP compliant, the secured copy protection “handshake” can’t happen and you don’t get to see any content.

Thus, for any 4K TV you buy, make sure that it comes with HDMI 2.0 and that the HDMI connection in your TV is rated as being fully HDCP 2.2 compliant. The same applies for any other components that you plan on attaching to your 4K home theater system.

Overall, your best bet is to go for 4K ultra HD TVs from 2014 or later from the major name brands like Samsung, Sony, LG, Vizio and Panasonic.

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