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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Howto: Getting the Logitech Revue (Google TV) to Work With Comcast Cable Boxes

As I've Tweeted, Facebooked, and Buzzed about recently, Google sent me a Logitech Revue Google TV unit shortly before Christmas which I will probably be using to write apps for.  There are many things I like about it, many I don't, but I'll save that review (no pun intended) for another date.  I did want to post briefly on an issue I came across that had me really frustrated, as there were no answers on the web.

The issue stems with Comcast Cable Boxes (mine was the HD PVR unit with HDMI out) not working well in receivers that have more than one HDMI cable input connected at a time.  I have the Harman Kardon AVR-247 and when I would connect the Comcast Cable box to my Logitech Revue unit, I would get Content Protection errors each time (HDCP - Google it, with "Logitech Revue").  I tried every means of connecting, and no matter what I tried I couldn't get it to display TV without the HDCP error, a big green message on top of the screen from the Comcast digital cable box.

I Googled it, and came across issue after issue of Comcast customers having similar problems with the Comcast Cable boxes, with no answers, and no response from Comcast (Many were complaining that Comcast was sending them back to Motorola, some saying Comcast was blaming Google, etc.).  The only answer I came up with was that the AVR (your receiver) did not work well when it had more than one input in the box, something that was necessary in my situation because I also have an Xbox, an Apple TV, along with a Blu Ray DVD player.  The Apple TV and Logitech Revue only have HDMI ports, while the others I prefer to connect via HDMI where possible.  The only solution I found was to connect the output of the Logitech Revue unit out to the TV's HDMI input port, and the Comcast Box into the Logitech Revue, then using the Optical out port of the Revue to connect to the Optical input of the receiver, giving me the sound I need (you may have to read that a few times to get it).  My problem was that my TV is still pretty old (but can you argue with 65 inches???), and only has one input HDMI port, which is already being used by the receiver.

So I thought about it, and realized the problem was because I had 2 HDMI cables connected to the receiver.  I also happened to have an HDMI hub, which I purchased from Best Buy for about $100, but is also available in various forms starting at around $30 or so on Amazon and elsewhere.  I was using this already to power some of the other HDMI devices I was using.  So I disconnected the second port completely, and put everything into the HDMI hub.  Voila!  It worked!  No more content protection errors!

So if you're seeing the HDCP Content Protection errors with your Cable box on the Logitech Revue, you may want to consider going out and purchasing an HDMI hub, get rid of all but one HDMI input into your receiver, and connect everything to your hub.  I'm pretty sure this method will work for almost everyone.  In the meantime, Comcast told me on Twitter that they are aware of the issue, and they're working on a firmware fix to hopefully fix the issue on their Cable boxes.  It's good to know they are now recognizing the problem, although they can't give any ETA on a fix.

It was actually this problem that convinced me to just go get rabbit ears - with a Google TV, an Xbox and Windows Media Center, and an Apple TV, do I really need cable TV any more?  Assuming you do, well, here's the answer.

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