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First AVRs With HDMI 2.0 Reach Market

NEW YORK – The first A/V receivers with HDMI 2.0 connections are hitting the market, but not all of them incorporate HDCP 2.2 copy protection to protect the UltraHD 4K content expected to be delivered via streaming services, future terrestrial and satellite broadcasts, and future physical media.

Such copy-protected content will either be unplayable or converted to standard definition when passed through non-HDCP 2.2-compliant AVRs, suppliers said.

Movie studios are looking for the next generation of HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) technology to protect 4K video delivered via HDMI cables because the current version has been hacked.

Among two new Onkyo-brand networked AVRs, the $699-suggested 7.2-channel TX-NR636 ships in April with HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2. Presumably, step-up models in the works will also include HDCP 2.2.

For its part, Pioneer planned late-March shipments of five networked AVRs with HDMI 2.0 but without HDCP 2.2. The Elite series models are the 7.2-channel $500-suggested VSX-44 and 7.2-channel $700-suggested VSX-80. The Pioneer-branded models are the 5.2-channel $399-suggested VSX- 824, 7.2-channel $499 VSX-1024, and 7.2-channel $599 VSX-1124.

The company confirmed the AVRs won’t be able to get a firmware or hardware upgrade to add HDCP 2.2.

Yamaha revealed details of two networked AVRs with HDMI 2.0 but hasn’t stated whether they’ll include HDCP 2.2. Those models, whose ship dates haven’t been announced, are the Wi-Fi-equipped $849-suggested RX-V777BT and $649 RX-V677.

For its part, Sony plans April availability of its first two soundbars with HDMI 2.0 ins and outs. They are $449–suggested HT-CT770 and $349-suggsted HTCT370, both with three HDMI inputs and one HDMI output with audio return channel. The soundbars support HDMI 2.0’s 4K 60 fps feature and 4:2:0 color but not HDCP 2.2.

Sony already offers five HDMI-connected AVRs that have been or will be upgraded with a firmware update to add HDMI 2.0 features, but information on the supported HDMI 2.0 features was not available.

The HDMI 2.0 spec, finalized last September, incorporates a number of optional features, thanks in part to a significant increase in signal bandwidth to 18Gbps. Optional features include stepped-up UltraHD support to deliver UltraHD frame rates up to 60Hz, support for 4:4:4 color for UltraHD, the 21:9 aspect ratio, 32 discrete audio channels, and audio sampling frequencies up to 1,536kHz, among other enhancements.

In its two AVRs, Onkyo supports 4K 50/60Hz video with RGB 4:2:0 along with the 21:9 aspect ratio, Onkyo said. For 4K 24/25/30Hz video, the AVRs support RGB 4:4:4.

The 4:4:4 color support offers the highest quality color reproduction available in content today when images are displayed on compatible 4K televisions screens, Pioneer said.

For its part, Yamaha through its website said its two announced HDMI 2.0 AVRs support 60 fps Ultra HD video, but the site doesn’t mention other optional HDMI 2.0 features.

Pioneer’s HDMI 2.0 AVRs not only support 60 fps 4K video but also, via a summertime firmware update, 60 fps 4K video with 4:4:4 color.

Although the new HDMI spec does not mandate HDCP 2.2 support, Onkyo USA anticipates that content providers will support HDCP 2.2 to protect UltraHD content.