Does a monitor have to have an HDMI input in order to display commercial Blu-Ray films?
January 27, 2011 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Are HDMI cables a requirement for watching commercial Blu-Ray movies? If I put a Blu-Ray drive in my computer, will I be able to watch Blu-Ray movies on a monitor that is hooked up via some non-HDMI cable? (DVI, VGA, whatever)

I remember reading a long time ago about Blu-Ray DRM, and that the HDMI cable was a link in the chain. Is that the case, or did things play out differently? If it is a problem, is there software to get around that limitation?
posted by jsturgill to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can play Blu-Rays on my desktop with a DVI connector.
posted by pombe at 10:11 AM on January 27, 2011

Sometimes these questions depend on the device. Once you're looking at a specific Blu Ray player (or if you already have one and want to know what it can do), you're better off emailing the manufacturer or posting a question with the specific model number to a forum like

Many DVD players can output video to HDMI and audio to TOSLINK simultaneously. I picked up the one that couldn't because I didn't investigate it's particular capabilities. So be sure to check out your specific model before buying anything based on general expectations.
posted by Tehhund at 10:14 AM on January 27, 2011

Darn it, it's = its. pet peeve.
posted by Tehhund at 10:15 AM on January 27, 2011

Response by poster: I'm specifically thinking of something like this. Tehhund, was your response regarding a standalone unit designed for a TV? 'Cuz this is different. I'm assuming that all internal Blu-Ray drives will interact with the OS in pretty much whatever the standard way to do such things is, and the specific manufacturer doesn't matter.
posted by jsturgill at 10:20 AM on January 27, 2011

Heh, totally read over that. Then my answer changes. My understanding is you'll be able to use a VGA cable. I believe the DRM is largely between the Blu Ray player and the application that decodes the movie and presents it to your screen. I believe once the movie is decoded into something viewable, it can be sent over any medium including a VGA cable.

I'm not an expert though.
posted by Tehhund at 11:12 AM on January 27, 2011

I am trying to find a cite for you but I want to say the big thing is that some (most?) players won't pump out 720/1080p video over anything but an HDMI connection.
posted by mmascolino at 11:12 AM on January 27, 2011

I think you're talking about HDCP, yes? If you've got it, you've got it at the computer level, not the BD level.

I know recent Macs have it, don't know what else.
posted by mkultra at 11:16 AM on January 27, 2011

Response by poster: mkultra, from what I remember reading, HDCP checks every link in the chain, from the drive, to the OS, to the cable, to the display. Specifically, I'm wondering about the cable level, in a desktop computer context, since the others will be covered. What I'd read, many moons ago, indicated the OS is aware of the display method, and blocks any unapproved type of connector that isn't encrypted.

HDMI is encrypted, old school VGA is not; a monitor connectted via HDMI would display the content, a monitor connected via VGA would not. That sort of thing.

The HDCP article you linked to goes over the interface aspect. I was surprised to see DVI on that list. According to WikiPedia some DVI interfaces should work. The two kinds are physically the same, but the kind that works is backed up by hardware in the display device that can accept an encrypted signal. I'm assuming that the monitor I'm asking about does not have that capability, since it's pretty old and not designed to be a TV.

mmascolino, I would love a cite for that. At this point, I haven't been able to get any clarity over what will or will not happen in this situation, and it kind of sucks. Seems like the only way to really know is to just buy the damn thing and try it out.

I'm hoping that someone with direct experience in this comes by soon and chimes in with what worked/didn't work for them.
posted by jsturgill at 11:36 AM on January 27, 2011

I have a BD-ROM drive (LG GGC-H20L) in my PC. I've watched commercial Blu-ray movies on my HDCP compatible monitor(Dell 2407wfp) over DVI and on my non-HDCP digital projector (Epson ELP-7250) connected through VGA with a DVI-VGA adapter.

I've never tried playing it back through a direct VGA output since I've only had DVI video cards since getting the Bluray drive. In my experience you can definitely use DVI.
posted by breakfast! at 12:31 PM on January 27, 2011

Best answer: DVI is basically just HDMI without the audio steam. If your video card and monitor are both HDCP compliant than you should have no problem using either VGA or DVI. NVidia drivers have a screen somewhere in the Control Panel that you can use to confirm that your system is HDCP compliant.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:40 PM on January 27, 2011

I just bought a Blu-Ray and I'm pretty sure it's a roll the dice situation. My will output up to 1080p over HDMI but only 480p on my old, component, HDTV. In theory my TV can do 720p. I can pretty much promise you'll be able to get something but not that you'll get 720p or better.
posted by chairface at 5:00 PM on January 27, 2011

Best answer: Blu-Ray appears to work at hi-def over DVI as long as the monitor is HDCP compliant.
posted by jsturgill at 1:31 PM on February 26, 2011

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