Bug Related To HDCP DRM Is Giving New Playstation PS4 Pro Owners Headaches

from the first-do-no-harm dept

Sony recently released the slightly-more powerful Playstation 4 Pro console, a beefier version of its existing PS4 console that brings 4K and HDR functionality to customers with 4K sets. 4K was already proving to be a bit of a headache for early adopters, many of whom didn’t realize that in order to get a 4K device to work, every device in the chain (particularly their audio receiver) not only needs to support 4K and the updated HDMI 2.0a standard for HDR (high dynamic range), but HDCP 2.2 — an updated version of the copy protection standard used to try and lock down video content.

HDCP has always been a bit of a headache, like so much DRM usually causing consumers more trouble than it’s worth, and then being ultimately useless in trying to prevent piracy that occurs anyway. The latest incarnation of this issue appears to be plaguing PS4 Pro owners, who are plugging their $400 console into their expensive new receiver and 4KTV only to find that the unit doesn’t work as advertised. For some people, it’s because they likely didn’t realize (as noted above) that everything in their AV chain needs to support not only HDMI 2.0a, but the latest HDCP copy protection standard:

“HDMI 1.4 can handle 4K resolution, but its 4K support is limited to video signals at 30 Hz (or 30 frames per second). HDMI 2.0 is required in order to handle the increased bandwidth required by a 4K feed at 60 Hz. And although all PS4s ? including non-Pro consoles ? can deliver HDR as of mid-September?s v4.0 firmware update, HDR technically requires HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2.

Which is understandable, given that the bleeding edge isn’t always a pretty and simple place to reside. There’s always tweaking and tinkering required on the bleeding edge, and having to dive deep into your TV’s unnecessarily-confusing menus is par for the course. But as the problem persisted through last weekend, many console owners discovered that they were only able to use their new console if they disabled HDCP entirely:

“The issue appears to be related to HDCP, the digital copy protection that?s built into the HDMI connection between the PS4 Pro and the TV. Sony launched the PS4 in 2013 with HDMI 1.4, the then-current HDMI specification. The introduction of HDR has brought forth HDMI 2.0a along with HDCP 2.2, the latest version of the port and its copy protection. That?s why the PS4 Pro box includes a high-speed HDMI cable that supports HDMI 2.0.”

As a PS4 Pro owner I can confirm that out of the box the device simply wouldn’t properly transmit a 4K signal to my Samsung TV (you get audio, but no video). To get the console to work I had to boot into safe mode, disable the latest iteration of the HDCP 2.2 DRM, then disable HDCP in the console settings after boot. Note that while this will allow users to at least use the console to play games in 4K with HDR, it prohibits them from being able to use the console to stream video content, given that’s not possible with the DRM disabled.

At this point it’s not entirely clear if the problem is a bug in the PS4 Pro firmware, or a bug in the compatibility firmware embedded in most new “smart” 4K TVs. Some users over at Reddit indicate that many of the TVs impacted by manufacturers like LG have long struggled to play nice with the HDCP DRM. And while the HDCP 2.2 standard may not be the only thing contributing to these interoperability bugs, it’s pretty clear at this point that the DRM — which will inevitably be bypassed anyway — is at least playing a starring role in consumers not being able to easily use a piece of hardware they paid for.

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Companies: sony

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Comments on “Bug Related To HDCP DRM Is Giving New Playstation PS4 Pro Owners Headaches”

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34 Comments
Roger Strong (profile) says:

Not a Bug

Years ago when the industry settled on HDCP shortly AFTER the first wave of HD TVs were released – rendering them unable to show new HD content – that wasn’t a bug. Early adopters were deliberately thrown under the bus.

When most video cards sold as "HDCP compatible" ahead of the HDCP roll-out turned out to be incompatible, that might be called a bug – but only to gloss over outright dishonesty and incompetence.

When early HDCP compliant TVs often failed to handshake with HDCP-compliant players and satellite receivers, those were bugs. Although even then the label glosses over the standard not being properly locked down.

In this case, the 4K content providers and manufacturers agreed on HDCP 2.0/2.1. But then that was broken, so they replaced it with 2.2. This new standard outright specifies that a 2.2 transmitter must not support 2.0/2.1 receivers.

It’s not a bug; it’s by design. It’s not just the PS4; all future players and content will refuse to work with the same 4K TVs. As before, the early adopters were thrown under the bus.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It's worse than that

It’s not a bug; it’s by design. It’s not just the PS4; all future players and content will refuse to work with the same 4K TVs. As before, the early adopters were thrown under the bus.

Given the timeline of when 4K TVs became available, I don’t think it’s fair to say that only the early adopters were thrown under the bus. It’s everybody. Yes, people can still get a non-4K TV, but 4K TVs have been out long enough that I think most people expect all the major problems to have been resolved. On a technical level, that might be true, but the major media companies are dead set on creating new problems with stunts like this.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Not a Bug

BTW, this issue was also my first experience with questionable news on social media.

Having complained online about HDCP incompatibilities at the end of 2006 – right about the time Muslix64 released his first AACS decryptor – suddenly I was reading on Digg, and elsewhere that I was responsible for the crack. (The claim was eventually removed from Wikipedia, but is still in the article history.) I damn near destroyed the monitor in question when I spit my tea out on it.

I received a few enquiries, and advice from a trade official that "it would be unwise to visit the US."

The Puntley says:

Re: Re: Not a Bug

Wow, Roger, you must be able to fit a lot of tea in your mouth (smile)

Did you see then or do you see now how important the ability to post anonymously was/is/will be? Not to say that you’ve said anything pro or anti on the matter, but that you might have after hearing from the trad official.

For everyone: don’t you think it’s time we did something stupid and pointy to these maffiaa people? My thought would be something that involve mil spec amounts of shaving cream and toilet paper, but I’ve always been considered a bit of a firebrand.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Not a Bug

I fully agree with the need for an ability to post anonymously. Not just because of government: Around the same time I was followed around online by a nutjob who objected to my debunking of his North American Union claims on Digg.

I never felt threatened by the trade official. (I wish I had written down the exact branch of government he was in.) He wasn’t taking internet claims seriously. “But the issue came up, so we have to ask.”

It got more ridiculous later on: The claim was made (again on Digg, the Reddit of the time) that the crack was responsible for studios pulling support from HD-DVD and backing Blu-Ray (probably untrue) leading to the eventual demise of HD-DVD. And so I, Roger Strong, was personally responsible for the demise of HD-DVD and the loss of billion-dollar investments.

Again, untrue. But given the role of DRM in the fiasco – it’s a classic case of “nothing is illegal if one hundred businessmen decide to do it” – I do wish that I could take credit. Whoever Muslix64 is, I consider him/her to be a hero.

Adam Lambert says:

Re: Mine worked fine

Im also using a samsung ks8000 and mine wont work properly[it says hdcp 1.4 no matter what] and i personally know people with ps pros and ks8000 tvs. The thing that has made it all exponentially worse is the fact that sony customer support doesnt have any idea what they are talking about. I have been on the phone with them [NUMEROUS customer support staff to say the least] and i am either getting conflicting info or flat out falsehoods in most cases. Samsung support has been great. Sony released this hardware too fast and have thrown us under the bus. Sad part is as someone who has owned every playstation ever made I was championing the ps pro. Well they have lost another in a loooong list of former customers for sonys consoles. I am returning my pro for an xbox one s and then waiting for scorpio. Shame on you sony. I will still be getting the shaft for 120 bucks for my ps plus membership and infinite warfare not to mentiom the movies i have paid for on my sony account. I dont even have half the time to tell every rediculous or conflicting info given me by sonys joke of support staff.

Anonymous Coward says:

All this talk about 4K and HDMI. Yet I’m still using A/V and VGA or DVI cables.
Pros: No DRM shit. Works in any device I plug it into. Still a common standard. Not going anywhere.
Cons: None that I notice. Everything is still crisp and clear.

Video standards seem to be little more than an excuse to charge money for new cables every other year.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If you try to play a Blu-Ray disc on an non-HDCP compliant monitor using DVI, you’ll get a blank screen just like with HDMI.

With analog connections – A/V and VGA – HDCP requires that both the video and audio be downgraded. You can watch HD movies, but not in HD.

DRM aside, no, a 1080p monitor is not as crisp and clear with VGA as it is with DVI, HDMI or DisplayPort. The difference is less noticeable with video, but it’s easy to see when reading text on a word processor.

Vikarti Anatra (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I checked website of physical store chain I use to buy most of my electronic devices.
They have group ‘4k TVs’ but only remotely relevant filter option is ‘Supports HDMI 2.0’.
Detailed model descriptions doesn’t show HDCP version at all.
They also sell PS4 Pro.

p.s. I’m not from USA. It won’t be too easy for me to return TV to them due to this issue, they don’t have to accept back it if it ‘works’.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

They have group ‘4k TVs’ but only remotely relevant filter option is ‘Supports HDMI 2.0’.

Though unrelated to DRM, that’s also important.

You’ll see often see 4K TVs advertised with a 120hz refresh rate. Not mentioned: "Not at the same time."

HDMI 1 is only fast enough to send 4K video at 30Hz. (Try using an HDMI 1 / 4K TV as a monitor, and your mouse will have annoying lag.) HDMI 2 – assuming your player and TV both support it – ups the refresh rate to 60Hz.

Adam Lambert says:

Re: Re: Re:

No thats not necessarily what you need to do at all. Refer to my post above. I have a playstation pro and a samsung ks8000 which is most certainly a hdcp 2.2 compatible tv and this combo works fine for some but not for most. The problem is that sony rushed out this mid generation release so they could double dip into our wallet soon as possible before scorpio comes out this time next year because you better believe they are paying attention to how bad sony has shot themselves in the foot with the ps pro so they will have fixed this problem plus scorpio will have the raw power to play all games in native 4k hdr plus a native uhd blu ray player and this is someone who has been called a sony pony for years. Just watch all the YouTube videos about exactly what I speak of. Great job sony. You taught a whole service department to lie to your fanbase and try their best to blame it all on the tv companies and in the process lost your customers who are smart enough to know and that is tens of thousands of former customers. Including this one because I will never EVER buy another sony product of any kind again.

Allan (profile) says:

Work around

As someone who was completely ignorant about this HDCP2.2 BS I find my PS4 Pro not able to play the higher resolution due to my TV (HighSense 55K321UW)only having HDCP 2.0

Question, if I follow the advise quoted below from the above article will this help me and others solve this copy right problem. I would just like to play Tomb Raider in 4K

Thanks
Regards Allan

To get the console to work I had to boot into safe mode, disable the latest iteration of the HDCP 2.2 DRM, then disable HDCP in the console settings after boot. Note that while this will allow users to at least use the console to play games in 4K with HDR, it prohibits them from being able to use the console to stream video content, given that’s not possible with the DRM disabled. “”

Allen Armstrong says:

HDMI switch and no picture

So here’s it all in a nutshell.
I have a Samsung 7 series tv and only one hdmi port will configure to UHD HDR.
I have a Samsung UHD HDR Bluray player and the Sony PS4 Pro.

I’ve tried 2 different hdmi switches, both HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 compliant.

In each case the Samsung Bluray player works fine but the Sony PS4 Pro does not.

I tried changing the HDCP settings on the Pro as well as disabling the HDCP and nothing works.

And here’s the weird thing. The switch WILL see the Pro while it is restoring from an improper shut off (verifying files), but as soon as the Pro resets the picture disappears.

Stefano Leigheb says:

PS4-Pro and Bravia HX900 - Audio problem

Not 4k but still experimenting audio problems, some times (randomly?) also Playstation main menù music have “holes”…
Unflagging HDCP that issue disappear but no DVD/Blu ray.

I’ve noted that while using VR, audio coming from earphones is OK, audio from TV have a lot of “holes” so every time I set TV volume to zero

Hoping new firmware will fix that.

Stefano

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