London software testing news UK

Consumer testing for interoperability

Posted in General by testing in London on July 29, 2007

From  EE Times

With interoperability issues for digital entertainment systems still dogging the consumer electronics industry, a subsidiary of the chip vendor that invented the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) has seized the opportunity to turn the industrywide problem into a profit centre. Now its year-old test program, touted at introduction as a much-needed de facto standard regime for CE interoperability, is under fire by some who say it is little more than a costly feel-good seal of approval.

Silicon Image Inc. unit Simplay Labs LLC created the SimplayHD Compatibility Test Specification to test High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) functionality in conjunction with HDMI for consumer electronics OEMs. The program also offers compatibility testing among devices from different vendors. The company offers OEMs that pass the test a SimplayHD certification logo. While SimplayHD is an elective service for OEMs, Simplay Labs has told OEMs that big-box retailers such as Best Buy will recommend products with the SimplayHD logo over competing offerings.

Some CE vendors immediately embraced the SimplayHD testing program, but in recent months a number of companies have begun to question the lab’s testing practices. The concerns cited include a lack of publicly available documented information on SimplayHD testing procedures and pass/fail criteria; long waiting periods for getting a system tested; and “extortionate” pricing for each test–$15,000 for each HDMI-equipped digital entertainment “source” system, such as a high-definition TV or DVD player.

“Several customers in Taiwan, China and Korea are having difficulty completing SimplayHD testing,” said Doug Bartow, strategic marketing manager for the advanced-TV segment at Analog Devices Inc. Without full disclosure of how the SimplayHD tests are conducted and what the pass/fail criteria are, “our customers are unable to correct the problem, let alone understand the nature of the problem,” Bartow said.

A year ago, the absence of coordinated HDCP/HDMI testing posed a huge problem for the industry. In some cases, even HDMI products already certified by HDMI’s authorized test centres would not function correctly without properly implementing HDCP, an Intel-developed digital content protection technology that controls content as it crosses HDMI connections.

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