While trying to figure out how to connect my stereo, cable DVR, flat panel TV, Wii, xBox 360 and hopefully an AppleTV, I now have more questions than answers.
I am NOT trying to build the Ultimate Home Theater setup. What I DO want is to combine all the pieces and make them work if possible. The TV is a Philips with every type of connection possible. Stereo is also Philips component system that is 10 years old, so no HDMI or Component plugs. Cable DVR has all the plug connections available. Wii and xBox 360 are component plugs and the AppleTV has plenty of choices.
Looks like I will need a switch box to plug everything into so we can manage the cable clutter, but it looks like I have to choose between HDMI or Component as I haven't found a combo type switch box yet. Or should I look for an "All in One" Home Theater to cut down on all the different pieces? My wife found some Philips systems at Best Buy and one of them has some very good reviews on it.
My wife and I want the cables to disappear and all components to be out of sight in the new entertainment cabinet. Wireless controllers for the gaming boxes mean we don't have cables to trip over, so those boxes can go behind the glass too.
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As far as a visual difference between the two connections, I can't see one. I have used both Component and HDMI for HD stuff and it looks the same to me. The advantage HDMI has is that it also carries audio on the ONE cable.
My setup is as follows:
Tivo HD, Sony PS3, Toshiba HD DVD, Apple TV connected to my Octava HDMI + Optical Audio Switcher (this switcher totally rocks!)
I use optical Audio into my Bose receiver from the switcher.
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Dave: the answer to your question depends on how you define "work." Up until now, "work" mostly meant "workaround" and not an easy-to-use integrated solution across brands and components.
There may not be an easy or really slick solution to your existing A/V system. But, the answer may not be far away (if you're willing to buy an entirely new A/V system ). See HDMI-CEC below.
This report might help you somewhat with the HMDI vs. component question. The very best HDTV's can only now process 10-bit information; the very best analog (component) hardware can only receive 63dB signals (10.5 bits). You will probably notice the visual difference with good Blu-ray sources over HDMI (HDMI showing less noise than component connections). Human vision can only see about 7-bits of luminance at a given instant, so this equipment is reaching certain limits in human perception.
Here's a more thorough, but more technical, explanation of HDMI-CEC. Maybe this Standard will better serve your needs in the near future.
The A/V manufacturers have fought a protracted battle opposing control standards, for fear of losing market share or losing their branding features. But their duplicity shows through, because not a single manufacturer introduced a unified control system, even within their own brands and hardware. The diversity of commands in "universal" remotes is almost infinite - there is no integrated control system to minimize wiring and peraphernalia. Ironically, one of the manufacturers' most distinguishing brand characteristics has been lots of wires without any integration whatsoever.