HDMI 2.0 Taipei Plugfest: Product Availability and Performance

Over time, HDMI has become a dominant multimedia interface that can be found in home theater equipment, personal computers, automotive electronics, and many mobile devices. Previous iterations of HDMI conquered the consumer electronics market by squeezing HD video and Hi-Fi audio signals through a single cable. In anticipation of market demand for Ultra-High Definition (UHD) displays, which offer four times the resolution of HD video, HDMI Forum published the new HDMI 2.0 specification in September 2013. This was followed by the publication of the corresponding HDMI Compliance Test Specification 2.0 in April 2014. These developments have enabled television manufacturers to begin launching UHD TVs in the 2nd half of 2014.

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“Testing & Certification”-The Driving Forces Behind The Screen!

Turn on your HDTV to watch a sports program, as if you were actually in the match. A diverse range of programs, from NBA (National Basketball Association), UEFA (The Union of European Football Associations) Champions League, to NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball), offer more entertainment choices for end users. It seems nothing special when talking about this recreation activity-watching TV. None the less, there is a force behind the screen driven by accumulated innovation and technology integration within the TV industry. From analog to digital signal eras, TV makers and system operators have ceaselessly developed next generation specifications via a series of standard compliance certifications to ensure AV quality for end-users.

With several years experience in TV broadcast signal testing and certification, Allion will share its knowledge and analyze the TV ecosystem, including the challenges that TV makers might encounter in the process of signal acquisition, testing and verification.

TV Ecosystem

TV can be regarded as a media platform or tool. Famous brands include SONY, Toshiba, TCL, SAMSUNG, VIZO, BENQ, PHILIPS etc. Consumers need a TV to watch programs, but first they need to register and pay for an operator (channel content carrier) subscription. Operators assure video formats provided by the channel broadcast companies, such as FOX, ESPN, BBC, are compliant with local video standards. Meanwhile, confirm that a TV can receive signals and display content, operators establish specifications and testing standards for TV manufacturer’s reference (Please see Figure 1: TV Ecosystem). The entire testing process involves various technical factors and levels of difficulty. It takes plenty of time and money, no matter how many engineers are working on signal interpretation and certification or conducting field tests. Specifically concerning field tests, testers must take immediate action when dealing with unexpected problems. Please refer to the related link: A full-range of TV Streaming Database is Ready in Allion Labs. For these reasons, planning and executing a complete TV broadcast certification and signal integration analysis is a big challenge for most TV manufacturers.

TV ECOSYSTEM_EN                                                           Figure 1: TV Ecosystem

Global DTV Signal V.S. Europe DTV Signal

Global Digital TV (DTV) signals are separated into several formats, for example, ATSC (mainly used in North America), ISDB (adopted by Japan and South Africa), DTMB (developed by China), and DVB (spread in Europe, Oceania, the Asia Pacific, and Africa). Among these regions, Europe is the most complex market. The American market is more standardized whereas TV operators in each European country have developed their own TV industry standards and use different broadcast frequencies.

When a brand vendor launches a new model in Europe, this model must pass safety regulations, such as EMI, EMC, etc. and also pass digital TV Logo certifications defined by operators. The purpose of Logo certification is to make sure TV programs can be displayed normally through interoperability testing between TV and broadcast networks. In Germany, a newly launched TV model should be certified by broadcast network operators conducting DVB-C, such as KDG and UnityMedia, and Satellite operator HD+Sky. In UK, a new model should be certified by DTV-T/T2 service operator FreeViewHD and satellite operator Freesat.

Although applying for DTV LOGO compliance is not compulsory, most operators would protect themselves by setting up certain conditions. For instance, a TV with LOGO certification can playback so-called popular programs on locked channels. Nowadays, most European TV makers will process LOGO compliance certification applications. End users can also login to E-marketplaces to double check whether or not their TV has built-in broadcast LOGO certification.

DTV Signal Distribution in Europe

There are three digital signal types in Europe: DVB-T/T2 (Terrestrial), DVB-C (Cable), and DVB-S (Satellite). Across Europe, there are over 20 countries and over 20 signal formats. Obviously, it is time-consuming to pass all the logo certifications.

Operators that provide DVB-T/T2 services include Digitenne in the Netherlands, RiksTV in Norway, Boxer HD in Sweden, and TDT Premium in Spain. Operators that provide DVB-C services, include UPC with its coverage from Portland, Hungry, to Romania, youSEE and Stofa in Denmark. DVB-S/S2 service providers include M7 in Belgium, TivuSat in Italy, and Skylink in Czech, AustriaSat and ORF in Austria. For more detailed information, including a complete list of operators, please refer to Figure 2: DTV Signal Distribution in Europe.

Europe DTV LOGOS Figure 2: DTV Signal Distribution in Europe

Testing & Certification Services – The Drivers Behind DTV Conformance Testing

Based on our observations, it takes an average of 10 to12 weeks to pass logo certifications in Europe. Once an official submission fails to pass, TV makers must pay extra money and reschedule a new testing time. If a test schedule is only arranged on certain occasions, like local festivals or UEFA champion, the schedule will be full of uncertainty in nations where such things are more casual.

Across Europe, there are many broadcast operators and as a result, it is quite tough for TV makers to communicate, deliver testing samples, and arrange testing times. Not to mention the fact that TV makers must be able to understand and undertake each test plan. Allion has invested a great deal of time and human resources in DTV LOGO compliance specifications study and encountered many different kinds of testing situations. Once, our staff encountered mosaic effects on TV displays when a Conditional Access Module (CAM) IC card was inserted into a TV in one particular European country. In the end, the brand vendor assigned engineers to come all the way from Asia to America to resolve this issue. Based on our past experience, we have found that a common issue in Europe is interoperability. Different broadcast specifications may conflict with others from time to time. The ultimate solution to this kind of problem is to update software or firmware in accordance with the specific interoperability issue.

This year, Allion will begin providing pre-compliance test services for European broadcasting signals, aiming to assist customers with DTV Logo Certifications, and save our customer’s time and reduce their technical difficulties. In addition to automotive tests and issue analyses in the RF signal field, Allion has the ability to execute component, software and user experience testing at the product development stage and conduct environmental, mechanical tests and customized interoperability services. As its professional laboratories are authorized by over 30 worldwide compliance standards, Allion provides one-stop shopping services related to TV, such as HDMI, DLNA, WIFI, MHL, SD, HDCP, Serial ATA and ひかりTV. Allion is also proficient in smart TV functionality testing and automation test design. We offer customers a full-range of engineering test services.

Analysis of Technology Standards of Cable and Connector& the Certification Test Points

In view of high-frequency signal, mechanical properties, electrical properties and environmental factors that change in the performance of cables and connectors, developers need a complete package of professional laboratory tests and certification programs to ensure the products that can meet the quality conditions and can perfectly show the functional characteristics. In this article about validation technique, Allion experts will introduce different specifications of USB and emphasize on certification. It will also concentrate on products with different interfaces such as SAS 4.0, PCIe’s latest specification of OCuLink interface, and fiber optic cable AOC (Active Optical Cable) and will explain each interface’s characteristics. In addition, we will also introduce some equipment and testing content focusing on electrical test, mechanical test, and environmental test.

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A full-range of TV Streaming Database is Ready in Allion Labs

To verify that TV RF signals could function well anyplace and anywhere, TV related companies frequently conduct field tests over the world, equipped with their own products and equipment by consuming much time and money. Aiming to help partners resolve difficulties of field test, the engineering service expert, Allion Labs started to consolidate and update streaming data periodically over the world several years ago. Upon customer’s requests and test requirements, Allion Labs team members would record TV signals in different kinds of environments or several countries and send the purchased TV products back from locals. The collected signal data can help customers test timely signals, process product verification, detect errors, and save time and cost.

Before every single field test trip, Allion labs team members do put much efforts into the preparation, such as map, GPS setting, route plan, and the working places for recording and so on. Allion Labs perfectly understands the signal integrity and its effectiveness will vary with venues and environments surrounded by buildings. Signal noise interference usually occurs in a big city and strong signal is always being detected closer to TV signal towers. Signal inconsistence could be easily found in the suburbs. Besides, concerning a variety of recording places and a full-ranged TV streaming data, Allion Labs would conduct indoor cable TV recording through cooperating with local contact windows. It takes at least one month to arrange, discuss and simulate tests to make a trip happen.

Real challenges always come after the departure, particularly for those unfamiliar countries. Passing through the customs is the first challenge. In some developing countries, the customs would be picky or extort our members intentionally. Occasionally, it took certain tax fee to allow testing equipment brought in those countries. During the field test, it’s easy to encounter interrogation by the police due the specialty of equipment. In addition, recording equipment requires lots of power to function. To purchase bulky power suppliers or the batteries is a normal case. Meanwhile, for comparing test results, our team members have to deliver TV products with local specifications back to Allion Labs for customer reference. Time limitation, language barriers, transportation arrangement, and product selection will affect the schedule. A field test trip seems more difficult comparing with the convenience of Taiwan or the developed countries.

We always do the best to plan a trip, and understand the local situation and culture. Under any unfamiliar condition, emergency makes our members out of blue. Asians are sometimes the targets for bandits or gangsters. A field test is full of tasks and challenges.

 

Illustration OneTerrestrials of Global Digital TV Signals

      TV Streaming Data

 

Allion Labs would analysis and review the integrity of data, classify patterns and parameters in sequence, and do the filing. TV signals will vary by time and next generation techniques will be born anytime. For instance, for embracing the coming of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and stimulating buying power of TV products with 4K signals, Japanese government is said to implant 4K TV signal step by step, starting from satellite, and then widely spread in digital broadcast. It is expected to broadcast real-time FIFA World Cup Brazil. For assuring the product specifications to fill in the physical environments, 4k related developers need to synchronize TV signal without time difference.

A full range of TV streaming data is part of Allion Labs assets and services which we will keep update for customers on regular basis. The data has incorporated signals of North America, Middle and South America, Europe, Japan and China; meanwhile, Allion Labs is also expanding signal territories of the other countries. Our own central signal generator conducts simulating and testing signals for TV manufacturers. The generator is able to send global broadcast signals, standard analog and digital images, in order to simulate the function of tested products in specific environments. The collected signals in Allion Lab are: DVB-T2/DVB-T/DVB-C, ATSC/SCTE, ISDB-T, DTMB- NTSC, SECAM, PAL, PAL/SECAM, ATSC-MH and CMMB. In our signal testing lab, Allion Labs could proceed different local tests on products, and simulate user scenarios.

As a professional of engineering validation and consulting, Allion Labs can provide the complete global streaming data, and conduct any random test of stability, compatibility and energy management of smart TV and Energy Star America Plan. In addition, Allion Labs’ one-stop testing and validation services can save time and money for each customer. We could provide scenario stimulation based on User Experience (UX) and offer competitive analysis. Based on these, customers are able to improve quality platforms, enhance product usability and get Allion Labs’ best support in each development stage.

Allion Competitive Analysis Test Report: HDMI Cables Quality & Performance

In recent years, HDMI has gradually replaced DVI or VGA and become the major audio/video transmission interface for all kinds of computers, smart TVs, over-the-top devices and blu-ray players. In response to this market trend which there is a wide variety of HDMI cables with significant difference in price and visual perception, how to make the best choice for all your purchasing HDMI cables is the important lesson. To help the consumers or buyers understand the quality of HDMI cables in the market, Allion (Allion Labs, Inc.) particularly analyzes the quality and performance of various types of HDMI cables.

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When Tele-Vision Becomes Inter-Vision: Smart TV Test Report Part II

No More Couch Potato

Now we can say that the future Internet technology and application will move toward the development of mobile entertainment devices and home entertainment devices. In “Mobile” oriented, mobile entertainment devices such as smartphone and tablet PC have significantly and successfully caused the big bang explosion in market; in “Home” oriented, lean-back media such as smart TV, connected TV and set-top box invade our living room gradually, and then users just sit down and veg out watching TV and browsing Internet. That is, the user scenario of TV is no longer passively receiving information, but users are able to take the initiate to select, browse and operate various TV applications and services.

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When Tele-Vision Becomes Inter-Vision: Smart TV Test Report

No More Couch Potato

Now we can say that the future Internet technology and application will move toward the development of mobile entertainment devices and home entertainment devices. In “Mobile” oriented, mobile entertainment devices such as smartphone and tablet PC have significantly and successfully caused the big bang explosion in market; in “Home” oriented, lean-back media such as smart TV, connected TV and set-top box invade our living room gradually, and then users just sit down and veg out watching TV and browsing Internet. That is, the user scenario of TV is no longer passively receiving information, but users are able to take the initiate to select, browse and operate various TV applications and services.

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The Rising Technical Standard (2): MHL

 

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Along with the mature high-definition video display technology, people have higher expectations on audio/video experience today. For consumer electronics (CE) devices and home entertainment products, supporting HD audio/video transmission has become an essential requirement. However, while the tendency of mobile devices’ form factor is smaller and smaller, making a product design embedded HD signal transmission interface has become challenging than ever. Also, the high power consumption of HD signal transmission is also a key element that impact the standby time of mobile devices. With these above situation and the increasing needs of mobile audio /video streaming, the latest mobile HD connectivity technical standard – MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) is therefore released.

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TV Product vs. TV Signals Compatibility Test Report

Although most of the TV products are delicately designed to receive digital and analogsignals, the error rate can still appeared to be high when put the TV into actual test atdifferent countries and regions. For example, we put the same TV in Germany and Spain that the TV works fine in Germany but is having EPG issue in Spain. This is most likely caused by the variation of the broadcasting system in each country. Different carriers use different stream formats and often lead to different results. All these issues can bring TV manufacturers extra challenges in sustaining the claim of product quality. Although field test may be able to eliminate potential error, but it is rather time and cost consuming to most of manufacturers. One big task for the TV makers is to plan a feasible and effective way to validate the RF signal from each and every country for their product.

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