What’s An HDCP Handshake… And Why Should You Care?
published onDecember 21, 2011

Have you ever had trouble playing a Blu-Ray or DVD on your HDTV after your home theater system was powered down and then turned back on? It could be that your equipment did not negotiate the HDMI / HDCP handshake correctly.

Woah. We just threw a lot of letters at you there, and if you’re not a techie, you may have no idea what we just said. An HDCP handshake is short for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection. It’s technology devised by Intel Corporation to prevent illegal copying of digital media, and also to prevent some digital content from being played to mass audiences without the proper licensing fees being paid. Essentially, your Blu-Ray or DVD player connected via HDMI cable to your screen wants to make sure that it’s playing content for a consumer device (increasingly the likelihood that you’re not charging admission for the viewing and you’re only showing the content to family and close friends.)

When Devices Won’t “Shake Hands”

In other words, your Blu-Ray or DVD player (content source) reaches out to your HDTV and says, “Hi. Are you a consumer HDTV?” The TV responds, “Yes, I’m a consumer device and I prefer 720p format.” Done deal, and your movie begins.

Sometimes, though, there’s a problem. This could be because your HDTV is an older model. One or more of your devices may not have the latest firmware installed. Or there could be a problem with your HDMI connection, such as bent wires or a loose cable.

Troubleshooting HDCP Handshake Issues Yourself

There may be a few easy fixes you can make yourself if you recognize an HDCP handshake issue.

  • 1. Power down all equipment at the wall connection (through your surge protector.)
  • 2. Check all cables, splitters, switchers and extenders to make sure they are connected correctly. If you find anything wrong, that could be the problem.
  • 3. Power on display and set to HDMI input
  • 4. Power on players. If you’re using an HDMI switch or splitters, make sure there’s an open path from source to display for the HDCP handshake to take place

In some cases, the HDCP handshake will work only if the sources are powered on first. In that case, switch steps 3 and 4.

When to Call a Home Theater Specialist

If we lost you at “Power down all equipment,” getting your home theater gear to negotiate an HDCP handshake is not something you want to do yourself.

If you attempted these steps and still can’t get the HDCP handshake to work, don’t frustrate yourself further. Your equipment may need a firmware update, or there could be an entirely different problem that a home theater specialist can diagnose and fix.

In today’s world of digital media, the HDCP handshake has become one measure of copyright protection that can often frustrate law-abiding people who just want to watch a DVD or Blu-Ray in their own home.

If you recently connected a new component and now your HDTV isn’t connecting to all sources correctly, bad HDCP negotiation could be the problem. JD Pro has years of experience in home theater technology and we can fix your problem fast so you can get back to enjoying your evening.