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Does HDCP Cause Lag?


High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) is a copyright protection scheme that prevents the capture of digital content. You’ll find HDCP enabled in almost all your electronic devices –– your gaming console, projector, streaming device, computer, laptop, and Blu-ray players, to name a few.

With that in mind, you may be wondering if HDCP interferes with your digital signal, causing lag or input delay. While HDCP-designed devices will cut off the handshake between source and device when security is compromised, HDCP doesn’t cause a delay in signal transfer.

In other words, HDCP is only concerned with digital protection of illegal recording or duplication of content. HDCP doesn’t cause lag when streaming content or gaming.

This article teaches about HDCP and how it affects your digital signal. We also have a few points that might help you decide whether or not to disable HDCP.

What is HDCP?

HDCP meaning

Before we discuss how HDCP affects signal transfer, let’s cover how HDCP works:

High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) is designed to protect digital content from Blu-ray players, streaming devices, gaming consoles, satellite TV receivers, and cable boxes. It’s also incorporated into laptop and computer hardware and all modern Digital Video Interface (DVI) and High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) electronics.

The HDCP protocol establishes a handshake between an input device and source content. However, if the HDCP security key is missing, the device won’t play content.

There are two main versions of HDCP. HDCP type is commonly specified under your device’s HDMI details:

  • HDCP 1.4: This HDCP type relates to HDMI 1.3/1.4, protecting full HD content.
  • HDCP 2.2: This HDCP type relates to HDMI 2.1, protecting 4K content.

Does HDCP Cause Lag?

As mentioned, HDCP is only concerned with the protection of digital content. 

HDCP doesn’t cause lags. Instead, it can cause disruptions in digital signals when the device detects pirated content.

When HDCP protocol causes the total or partial disruption of a handshake, your connection may be cut off or you may get lower resolution content. 

To give you a better idea, here’s how enabling HDCP affects digital signals:

Playing movies and TV shows

watching movies on TV with a low resolution

When playing movies using a streaming service or a Blu-ray player, HDCP protocol might restrict access if some of the components of your entertainment system lack HDCP compliance.

For example, if you have a 4K projector (requires HDCP 2.2) but only have an HDCP 1.4 digital cable, the handshake between your input device and source will be incomplete. HDCP protocol suspects a problem with the handshake, so you will get a lower resolution content instead of 4K.

In some cases, you won’t be able to use streaming devices or disc players in early DVI or HDMI HDTVs. You may have to replace your cable with a component cable  or an HDCP-certified HDMI  or DVI cable.

Gaming

a man is playing games in low resolution content with his gaming console

If you want to record gameplay on your gaming consoles using your capture card, you can disable HDCP. However, disabling HDCP will block certain apps, including streaming services like Netflix. To make streaming services on gaming consoles work again, you need to enable HDCP. 

While you can switch between turning HDCP on and off, you can also use an HDMI splitter . Splitters read and match HDCP signals expected by a device to prevent signal incompatibilities. Meanwhile, some HDMI splitters can bypass HDCP completely.

Take note that using HDMI splitters to copy or distribute HDCP-protected content is illegal. However, if you’re only making backups of your content, recording your gameplay, or other similar applications, then using an HDMI splitter is 100% okay.

Cable or Satellite services

Some cable or satellite TV subscriptions aren’t compatible with older HD TVs. This is because protected networks use the HDCP protocol to prevent consumers from recording shows. 

If you don’t want to get a new TV, you can use component video cables instead of HDMI or DVI. However, you should know that you will get a much lower resolution video compared to a digital cable.

using component video cables on an old TV

If you don’t want to compromise the quality of your viewing experience, you can always look for a new HDCP-compliant TV .

Should I disable HDCP?

If you’re thinking of disabling HDCP to make signal transference faster or to prevent lags, we’re here to tell you that HDCP won’t make a difference.

In fact, disabling HDCP will completely restrict or block your access to copyrighted content. 

Most streaming sites like Hulu, Amazon Video Prime, and Netflix require HDCP-designed equipment. Having a non-HDCP soundbar, AV receivers, TVs, and disc players can terminate the handshake between your source and output devices.

The only reason for you to disable HDCP is to record your content, such as when you want to capture your gameplay using an external capture card .

How to disable HDCP

Pressing a button on a gaming controller

To use game capture devices for gaming consoles like Playstation and Xbox, you need to disable HDCP. Take note that Settings will vary depending on the system, but these steps should be similar across platforms:

  1. Go to the Settings menu of your device, and navigate to System.
  2. Choose HDMI settings.
  3. Toggle off HDCP to allow game capture.

You should now be able to record audio and video signals when you connect your capture card. However, you won’t be able to stream movies and shows from streaming services. Playing Blu-ray discs on your gaming console will also be restricted. 

Conclusion

High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) protocol is mainly concerned with protecting digital content from unauthorized recording and duplication. The connection is disrupted partially or entirely if the HDCP handshake detects illegal or pirated content.

Because of this, some people think that HDCP-compliant DVI and HDMI cables cause interference in digital signals. 

Enabling HDCP doesn’t cause lags or any signal delays, whether you’re streaming movies or gaming. 

The only reason you can disable HDCP is to backup your content or record your gameplay using a capture card. Otherwise, disabling HDCP will only limit your access to most platforms and services, including cable, satellite, media players, and streaming devices.

Last update on 2022-08-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.


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