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HDMI to Enhance CEC Two-Way Control Protocol

HDMI group predicts Consumer Electronics Control (HDMI-CEC) will have more unified standard by CES 2009.


Is it really a “standard” if all the CE companies have their own implementations?

HDMI is going to make its control protocol, called Consumer Electronics Control (CEC), really meaningful. And they mean it.

That's the word from Steve Venuti, president of HDMI Licensing, LLC, who spoke to CE Pro during the recent CEDIA Expo.

HDMI-CEC is a communications protocol that enables devices to control each other via the same HDMI cable that delivers audio and video.

It's a handy standard, and it is implemented by virtually every major consumer electronics manufacturer.

The problem is, they all implement it differently, so you need an ecosystem of all-Panasonic products, for example, to control an entire A/V system with a single remote.

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That's because HDMI Licensing defines only a tiny set of commands -- like on, off and mute -- for CEC-compatible devices. Wanting a richer feature set, manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to define and implement their own protocols on top of CEC.

Venuti's predecessor Les Chard said in January that HDMI was moving toward a single set of standards for CEC.

That hasn't happened.

"We really mean it this time," says Venuti.

"We've worked with the founders to unify CEC. We're hoping -- and they're pushing hard -- that in Q1 there will be products out there with a meaningful command set," he says. "The marketing requirements came from retailers."

The HDMI group has been slow to get its founders -- Hitachi, Panasonic, Philips, Silicon Image (the developer of HDMI), Sony, Thomson and Toshiba -- on board with a unified CEC plan.

Now, however, "the founders finally said, 'Yeah, we can do it,'" Venuti says. "The founders are working feverishly. At CES [2009], there will probably be an announcement, and we will have some way to distinguish it [expanded command set]."

Who is Implementing CEC?

It's tough to tell which vendors are employing HDMI-CEC for their A/V products because they all market the solution under their own brands. Often, they don't even refer to CEC in the literature.

For that reason, we've compiled a list of HDMI-CEC brands by vendor:
  • Hitachi – Plain ol' HDMI-CEC (erroneously referred to in some places as SimplayHD)
  • LG Electronics SimpLink
  • Panasonic Viera Link (originally EZSync)
  • Philips - Easy Link
  • Samsung - Anynet+
  • Sharp - Aquos Link
  • Sony – Bravia Sync
  • Toshiba Regza Link (formerly CE-Link)

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Article Topics

News · Product News · Video Sources · HDMI · Hdmi · Video Source · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

2 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by The New Black  on  09/17  at  08:19 PM

I saw a forum post from an end user the other day where the guy had a DVD player connected to his TV via HDMI. But when he tries to play an audio CD, he can’t stop the TV from turning on, and if he then turns the TV off the DVD player turns off too and kills his music!

Now they want to enhance an interface that is already been published, and try and reel in at least 8 manufacturers that are already doing things differently.

So would it be safe to say that we have another round of HDMI incompatibilities coming for 2009?

I think they should leave automation and integration up to the PROs!

Posted by Lee Distad  on  09/17  at  10:17 PM

Yeah, it’s not really a “standard” if everybody goes and does their own thing.

Most of the HDMI distribution hardware I looked at during Expo deliberately doesn’t pass the CEC.  Can you imagine the carnage that would come of passing CEC willy nilly to 8 or more different video displays!?  You’d NEVER finish troubleshooting that setup!

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