Several days back I had a look at some of the forward looking aspects of the upcoming Windows Vista and made mention of Digital Rights Management. The protection of encoded media content is a consideration which will increasingly have implications for hardware as well as for software, and it seems that we will need to look beyond the components in the PC case when planning future upgrades.

Up until now, it has been common for people to retain their favoured PC monitors far longer than they do other parts of their PC systems. Purchasing a high quality monitor is an investment which can last you through several system upgrades, and this has been a path many have chosen to follow. But those wishing to take advantage of the high quality, high definition media content which will soon be available widely will need to consider replacing that much loved possession.

Microsoft have outlined Output Content Protection features of Windows Vista, and they include what is called Protected Video Path – Output Protection Management. This is a software technology which interacts with hardware to ensure that the display hardware is capable of decoding the content protection used in media distribution. It is also a software technology which demands that computer hardware falls into line with features included in consumer electronics devices such as the more recent DVD players and Television sets.

Simply put, in future if you want to use the PC for playing protected high definition media content, your PC and monitor will need to be capable of High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) in the same way that modern televisions are. To date, very few PC monitors are capable of the technology. On most modern PCs capable of running Windows Vista, you’ll be able to view the high definition media content, but it won’t be viewable in the high definition that you want to see!

Monitor Copy Protection has been embraced widely in consumer electronics, to the effect that it has become a de facto standard. If you’re planning to spend money on a high quality monitor, perhaps it’s time to look for the feature amongst the listed specifications? If you were thinking of holding on to your existing monitor when you do your next upgrade, perhaps it’s time to rethink?

Those guys thinking up the DRM methods are crazy. Just olain crazy. What next, the PC Cabinet should support DRM? Maybe the computer desk ought to be smartened up....geez, they're all nuts

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