Chromebooks with Intel chips will soon finally be able to play HD Vudu & Netflix over HDMI

Chromebooks with Intel chips will soon finally be able to play HD Vudu & Netflix over HDMI

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In an effort to prevent piracy, platforms such as Netflix and Hulu use encryption and digital rights management schemes to restrict the playback of content on certain devices. However, because of the strictness of some of the requirements, some devices in the wild aren’t capable of outputting HD video from these services. The reasons can vary — we’ve covered how phones from manufacturers like OnePlus and ZTE lack the necessary Widevine L1 DRM. But in the case of Chromebooks with Intel processors, high-bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP) is to blame.

HDCP, if you’re out of the loop, is a form of Intel-developed copyright protection that encrypts digital audio and video signals traveling over HDMI and DisplayPort connections. It uses an authentication key that prevents non-HDCP-compliant monitors, televisions, PCs, and other hardware from sending or receiving the signals, which poses a real problem for Intel-powered Chromebooks. They lack HDCP support, and so can’t transmit HD video from Netflix, Vudu, and other services.

A comparison of HD and SD resolutions. // Source: Wikimedia

A fix for those Chromebooks is on the way, though. New commits in the Chromium Gerrit source code review page suggest that Google’s adding HDCP support to the Chrome OS kernel.

There are three new commits related to HDCP, in fact: Two patches that add support for HDMI and DisplayPort connectors by implementing intel_hdcp_shim, and a patch that adds the framework required for HDCP support on Intel connectors. If all goes according to plan, a future release of Chrome OS will merge the changes and, consequently, bring support for HD video playback over HDMI to Intel-based Chromebooks.

It’s not clear yet how soon HDCP support will come to Chrome OS, but it’s bound to be a welcome change for folks who hook up their Chromebooks to TV screens. If you’d like to have a look at the code yourself, you can check out all of the HDCP-related commits here, here and here.