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Panasonic Demos Control over HDMI

CE Control (CEC) enables devices to control each other over HDMI.


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You press the "PLAY DVD" button on the remote control, and the TV fires up, switches to the right input, and plays the DVD. Big deal? It is if you consider that the two-way communications in this case occurs over HDMI.

There is a little-known feature of HDMI called CE Control (CEC) that enables connected devices to control each other using the same HDMI cables that deliver high-definition video.

"It's something that people don't know much about," says Steve Venuti, vice president of marketing for HDMI Licensing. "But it is a big deal and retailers love it."

The technology, which comes from Philips, has been available for about a year, but has rarely been demonstrated. At CES, Panasonic demonstrated CEC at both the HDMI pavilion and Panasonic's own booth.

In one of the demos, a user plugs a video camera into a TV via HDMI. The TV automatically switches to the camcorder's input and displays the content. The user then controls the camera through the television via remote control. No extra programming, control cables, or IR repeaters are required. Theoretically, users should be able to enjoy this and similar scenarios if all HDMI devices on the network are CEC compliant.

Panasonic, which has built additional software on top of CEC, calls its technology EZSync. In addition to performing basic CEC tasks, EZSync products enjoy an extra level of functionality. Press the EZSync button on a Panasonic remote, and a menu comes up on the television screen.

Select HOME THEATER, for instance, and the TV's own speakers mute, the Panasonic surround-sound system fires up, and volume is now controlled through the receiver. Turn the receiver off, and the audio automatically switches back to the TV speakers. Panasonic will incorporate CEC and EZSync into every new A/V component that includes and HDMI connector.

A couple of other companies showed HDMI-CEC compatible products at CES, just not as visibly as Panasonic.

LG Electronics has incorporated the technology -- under the Simple Link brand -- into several A/V components including a new line of 1080p TVs.

Samsung's brand of HDMI-CEC is called Anynet+, and is incorporated into several of the company's newer TVs and A/V components.




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About the Author

Julie Jacobson, 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.

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