5 common digital video errors, their causes, and how to fix them

Today’s new digital video formats like HDMI and DVI provide uncompressed digital audio and video with a sharp, crystal-clear image quality. No more flickering and blurry pictures. However, even the best inventions have their limitations. Digital video signals require a huge amount of bandwidth to be transmitted properly. Using low-quality cabling or distribution equipment may lead to problems. Here are the five most common:

Problem #1: Black screen (no picture at all).
Possible cause: A. Bad cable or one that’s too long, causing either the video signals or EDID/HDCP control signals not to be transmitted properly. Make sure that you use good-quality, high-speed HDMI® cables—they don’t even have to be expensive ones—or try an HDMI extender. B. HDCP is unsupported. Does the display support HDCP? DVI displays usually don’t.

Problem #2: “Sparkles” in the picture.
Usually caused by: Too long or inferior HDMI cable. Use a video extender or change to active cables with equalization.

Problem #3: RGB color tint.
Usually caused by: A color encoding issue, a common problem when using a DVI display with an HDMI source. If you’re using a splitter or an extender between your source and the link, make sure it handles EDID. If possible, force the source (for instance, a Blu-ray player) to output HDMI video with RGB color encoding instead of Component (YCbCr) video encoding.

Problem #4: White noise, or just “snow,” for a picture.
Usually caused by: An HDCP issue. This is actually what the encrypted video looks like. It happens when your display (or any active component, like an extender or a splitter, used in the transmission) doesn’t support HDCP. The display, in turn, isn’t able to decrypt the video stream. Be sure to use equipment that supports HDCP.

Problem #5: Flickering, unstable, or blinking image.
Can be caused by: Electromagnetic or radio frequency interference (EMI/RFI), bad cable, or cable that’s too long. These all can cause issues with HDCP or the video signal, resulting in flickering or the video randomly disappearing then reappearing after a second. The solution: Use certified high-speed HDMI cables instead of standard HDMI cables, or if you need to transmit longer distances, try an extender or change to active cables with equalization.


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