DVD players cost very little these days, thanks to the intrusion of Blu-Ray players, and even the price of Blu-Rray players is dropping rapidly, and to boot they routinely offer compatibility with Wi-FI and such streaming sites as NetFlix, so I bought a relatively low priced one. But I neglected to examine the display sample in the store – A MISTAKE. The back of it was naked except for sockets for an HDMI and a USB cable. Nothing for digital audio.
Like many (most of my friends) I run the audio from various devices into a mature receiver and thence to a number of speakers that my kids have cast off, thereby creating some sort of surround sound. The receiver I have is pre-HDMI and I love it (once again like most of my friends). Being ignorant of HDMI cables, but being an engineer, I figured it would be simple to run the HDMI cable to my newer television, and strip off the audio to my receiver. In fact, that is exactly what I had done with my old system, by running component cables to the TV and audio cables to the receiver. But then I went back to the internet to figure out how to do this, and found two things: HDMI cables have 19 wires in them (not five) and they are not made to be separated, and the internet is full of angry people facing the same problem I had—integrating new and slightly old equipment.
I took the blu-ray back to Fry’s, a large electronic store in our area, and asked the person I had dealt with what to do. Obvious, said he, buy a new receiver and a new set of components all wired for HDMI. Wrong, said I, and bought a low-cost blu-ray player that took not only an HDMI cable, and a bunch of others I did not want, but also a coaxial audio output, fortunately matching a similar input on my receiver—so a temporary victory.
But while in the store I looked at the backs of all the blu-ray players they had, and found absolutely no standardization at all. They all had HDMI sockets, but seemed to have random numbers of RCA sockets, optical sound ports, ether net ports, USB ports, and even an S-video socket or two. Is this perhaps an unconscious (or conscious) attempt to confuse the consumer so that he/she will buy new equipment, most of which is wired for HDMI? An attempt to apply a subtle form of voluntary obsolescence? Or are all the venders thinking that their layout is superior?
Can’t there be standardization in such things as blu-ray players, or is that too much of an impediment to innovation? In fact, this very lack of standardization is a very successful strategy to make people like me increasingly angry at the manufacturers of these no-longer-magic devices. In the future I may buy old equipment from Goodwill. Like many people I carry grudges like inconvenient cable changes a long time, such as the one I have against Apple for changing projector plugs.
But I am temporarily happy with my new blu-ray player plugged into my old sound system, except or course for the fact that the manual control buttons are invisible and barely findable with the fingers (remotes always get sat upon or lost between couch pillows), and my attempts to enter my new player into my “universal” remote have so-far come to naught. I will keep trying, but if I cannot solve that problem, I will go back to playing the piano.