High Definition Multimedia Interface, better known by it's acronym, HDMI, is one of two major high definition video standards that have taken the world by storm.
I got my first HDMI device in October 2007, a DVD-VHS recorder combo. I was massively excited to try it out as soon as possible since I would be getting myself a new TV. My new TV ended up as a Samsung M87. One of the things I noticed on my Samsung's remote was this AnyNet+ button.
I looked it up and found out that actually, it uses a technology known as HDMI-CEC, or HDMI Consumer Electronics Control. This technology allows you to control the host device with the remote control of a device connected to it. This meant I could use the DVD-VHS combo remote control to control my television. It also worked the other way around - my TV remote could control my DVD-VHS combo.
To me, personally, this was one of the most amazing things - one remote for all.
I got my second HDMI-CEC enabled device, a Samsung home theatre Blu-Ray system. On the very basis that this was a speaker system (primarily), I knew that this would work perfectly with HDMI-CEC. Indeed it did, permitting me to change the volume of my home theatre system with the remote control of my television.
So why is this so great?
Let's look at this from the point of view of someone who wants fewer cables and fewer remotes, like me. CEC is one remote for all devices connected to the hub device.
One HDMI cable between each device and one remote for the TV. The TV then controls each device through it's own CEC interface, telling my Blu-Ray home theatre system to turn up the volume or play a film.
You can also choose to switch off all devices connected to the TV using CEC as well.
Why not just use a Logitech Harmony?
The Logitech Harmony is an all-in-one remote that can control all of your devices with one remote.
Why pay that extra money for something that your existing TV can do? Since most TVs include this feature by default, and many devices, including the slim version of the Sony PS3, include CEC, it's easy enough to set up.
But, HDMI-CEC does require that all devices using the TV feature both HDMI and HDMI-CEC. Devices without this may not be controllable with the single remote, this is where a device such as the Harmony comes in.
Why CEC is so great
CEC is just one of those little conveniences that make things easier. Turning on all of the devices connected to a TV can be made much easier using CEC and that's got to be one of the greatest things. Put a DVD into a CEC enabled DVD or Blu Ray player and the TV will automatically switch to the appropriate channel.
This is not just great for this though, the fact my PS3 can switch my TV on, which can then cause my speaker system to start up means that I only need one remote (or controller) for the whole setup - which to me was a problem when I had 7 remote controls in my bedroom at the one time (I'm now down to just three, one for my TV et al., one for my Mac mini and one for my projector).