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CEA working out portable device connection standard

Written by Rich Fiscus @ 23 Jan 2008 2:54 User comments (8)

CEA working out portable device connection standard As part of an initiative to come up with a common standard for connecting portable digital audio and video devices to everything from home stereos to car entertainment systems, the Consumer Electronics Association's Mobile Electronics Committee is preparing to conduct a study of combining High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) signals with Portable Digital Media Interface (PDMI) connectors.
Rather than requiring several different types of connections for different brands of portable media players, this would allow home and automotive entertainment systems to add an interface for practically all such devices at a relatively low cost. Currently most solutions available to consumers, like FM broadcast, add multiple generations of loss to music that's generally been subjected to lossy MP3 or AAC Compression already.

Although it's possible to avoid this with the ability to read MP3s from CD, this doesn't help if you keep the majority of your music on an iPod or similar device. It's about time we had a single standard to extend players' functionality to include digitally connecting to the existing consumer electronics insfrastructure.

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8 user comments

123.1.2008 20:07

I think that this is a brilliant step in the right direction. This has been a problem for a long time now, and finally someone came forward to fix it. Any format through a high quality connection. No more fm modulated crap ever again. And on top of everything, it will be universal so that you are not stuck buying some proprietary cord that can only be used by one product.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 24 Jan 2008 @ 7:24

223.1.2008 20:19

But don't we already have a standard data connector?? USB?? I use the same cable to connect to my dv camera.. mp4 player.. motorola phone.. and my USB hub.

Sounds like "just another" money wasting only some manufacturers standard. Now usb may not be able to handle the HD stream speeds.. but that probably isn't anything to do with the connectors or cable, more likely what it's plugged into.

I'm just cynical having seen many many "universal" standards come and go.

324.1.2008 02:03

USB isn't a universal standard. It's a computer peripheral standard that's been adopted by some mobile device manufacturers to connect their devices to a computer. There's no standard stream format to allow a car stereo manufacturer to use to enable anywhere near universal compatibility with USB equipped mobile players.

Of all the existing technology, Firewire would probably be the best to use for this type of connection since it's much better for sustained data throughput, but unfortunately it's primarily been pigeon holed as a DV interface, even though it's capable of much more. Since it hasn't been embraced by the home computer industry as a general purpose data pipeline it's realistically out like USB.

I don't know if this will be a good solution or not, but it certainly doesn't have much competition from the status quo.

424.1.2008 12:31

If I'm reading this right, its more about the connector on the device then the usb end.
Just think of it. You can walk into your B&M store and buy a speaker system for your media device, and if you change to a different device, you speaker system will still work.... be it Zune, Sansa, Zen, Iriver, or (Gulp,) Ipod. No more minipin hook ups, or the many different cables....

524.1.2008 12:49

Actually from what I've read it's probably more about car stereos than anything else. There are really 2 issues in play. There's the connector itself, which needs to be added to car and home stereo equipment, and the transmission standard, which they're working on right now using HDMI signals. You really need to have both in place before you can call it a standard.

There's no reason that the jack on the media player itself would have to use a particular style of plug, as long as it outputs a signal compliant with the PDMI specs.

I guess the main thing for me is that high speed USB is a kludge to begin with. USB is poorly designed for consistent throughput because there's an implicit assumption that all control comes from one end of the connection. In other words, while 2 or more firewire devices can negotiate an optimal connection between them, with each only responsible for knowing its own capabillities, a USB connection requires that the device in charge (whether it's a PC or car stereo) know everything necessary about the peripheral to optimize throughput. That's why my personal preference would be to continue developing firewire for things like this.

Barring that, a new standard like PDMI can at least establish communications rules to be implemented across different devices so it's easier for electronics manufacturers to add media player ports to their devices without worrying about whether customers' devices will be supported. Plus it avoids the ineveitable consumer questions like "I plugged a USB wireless NIC into my stereo but I can't see it on the network" type questions.

624.1.2008 19:23

Hopefully, it will be a standard that is beyond its time. Lets not get another "USB" for music devices.

724.1.2008 19:33

It's really not just about a computer or audio connection. The potential is much bigger. Imagine being able to use your video I-Pod on the car TV system. No more worries about scratched discs. Then, you take that same cord and device, and use it to play music on your home stereo system. After that, you use it to load files from your computer. The potential is there as long as greedy companies don't screw it up. The more support it gets, the bigger the success it will be.

818.2.2008 02:10

the universal connection should really be a usb connection that connection is basically on every electronic device now we should make that the new standard i think houses or flats should have that port installed as well.

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