HDMI Corner: What We Learned Talking to Major Manufacturers in China

DPL Labs witnessed firsthand the impact of China’s manufacturing community at the great Global Sources Electronics tradeshow in Hong Kong in April.

Jeff Boccaccio

The reality of 4K Ultra HD is sinking into the minds of manufacturers, custom integrators, dealers and consumers throughout the world, with Asia being no exception.

That’s no surprise, as our industry relies heavily on the thousands of electronics manufacturers in China and the Far East to export their products into the United States.

We at DPL Labs got to witness firsthand the impact of that region’s manufacturing community recently after being invited to the great Global Sources Electronics tradeshow in Hong Kong in April.

The plan was to evangelize what we do as an independent testing facility to this manufacturer base and demonstrate our methodology as we would when
we appear elsewhere for events. We wished to inform manufacturers what DPL is and does, and provide them with the information and insight to understand DPL’s role and what we try to accomplish with our high-speed data testing and measurement services.

But wow, this was nothing like any other industry trip, from the time we landed in Hong Kong to the time we returned to Florida. What we experienced was a culture that pushes high expectations onto itself with a hunger for knowledge, the drive to execute and a passion for perfection — which, unfortunately, is limited due to a lack of resources we all expect and share in abundance here in the U.S.

But why ask a U.S. testing agency to travel halfway around the world to show and speak at a major Global Sources event? And furthermore, why now?

What we experienced [in China and Hong Kong] was a hunger for knowledge, the drive to execute and a passion for perfection — which, unfortunately, is limited due to a lack of resources we all expect and share in abundance here.

It took the week in Hong Kong and China to sort this out. It became pretty evident at the show where this was leading, but manifested itself when we arrived in Dongguan province, China. Visiting factories, speaking with owners, employees and industry leaders in these facilities brought the trip’s meaning to a boil.

They do not want to enter into manufacturing any HD video products that have the slightest chance to fail and be returned, and they too remember the dark days of the digital HD transition when the term “plug and pray” became widespread. They found CE Pro and DPL online, and with their curiosity already piqued, now there is also the new challenge of 4K UHD on their plate.

DPL’s test methodology involves unique and unconventional criteria developed via thousands of hours of case studies over a nine-year period, continuing today. These real-world applications provide valuable information on why failures exist, how corrective measures can be implemented and, most important, they offer data on interoperability problems of all products. As we have often stated, we are commonly dealing with system-level problems, not necessarily product-level errors.

Through some complex comparative analysis, DPL’s Augmentative Matrix was developed. Every examination of a failed system interface is measured, analyzed and entered into this matrix for a pass-fail interpretation.

How many times have you used one device in one system and have it not work in others? This method provides a conduit to reliability that no one spec can address.

What our audience learned quickly as we presented the process to them was that besides the testing and measurements that are offered there is ongoing education needed. The matrix has the capability to adapt and expand into testing practices not even used in today’s specifications solely due to its focus on system environments.

Each manufacturer we talked to illustrated its processes, explained its issues and accepted our support in helping to improve its quality assurance. Their reception to these tools was fabulous and in some cases they admitted to fully understanding what they were building for the first time.

The trip’s success was validated when we were invited back for the October tradeshow to deliver education plus a major presentation for more than 200 manufacturers (with interpreters provided) in Dongguan province. We will bring in the necessary test equipment to demonstrate the critical details of HDMI. Every day we are faced with more and more issues, and we expect this new additional support from China will reduce ongoing problems that much more.