Ok, there’s probably not a lot of you out there that care about the “Analog Hole,” but I’m going to tell you why it’s important…at least to me ;-) Basically, it’s what people use to get around digital copy protection. Recording the audio output from a CD player is taking advantage of the Analog Hole. For video, recording from the component output was used. Unfortunately, HDMI has all but replaced the giant five-connector component audio/video cable as the HDTV connection of choice, but along with HDMI comes digital copy protection.
Good news, I think. This device looks like the same thing as the Gang Hu HDMI Splitter and is finally available on Amazon! The seller is Frontier Factory whose name appears on the label of the Gang Hu device (see below).
OLDER UPDATE: I found a similar device on Amazon called the Portta PETHRV HDMI to Component YPbPr + R/L Audio Converter. The nice thing about this device is it’s only $26 and free shipping with Amazon Prime. I bought one and here’s my short review.
This really didn’t matter to me until we switched from AT&T U-Verse to DirecTV. The U-Verse box, like most TV service boxes had old-school component video connections. The new DirecTV box does not. Unfortunately, I have been using a Slingbox to stream U-Verse to my PC upstairs. The “omission” of component outs on the DirecTV box rendered my Slingbox useless. (Incidentally, I found it interesting that the installer forgot to mention this and just unplugged it leaving all the wires hanging there–AH. Also, Slingbox is owned by EchoStar Communications, owner of the Dish Network, DirecTV’s competitor. Hmmmm.)
Fortunately, Slingbox has a solution to this problem on their website and it’s very interesting. They recommend getting an adapter that will convert HDMI signals to component video signals. The question that should immediately pop into your head is, “doesn’t this get around digital copy protection and wouldn’t that make such a device illegal?” Seems logical to me, but there on that page is a link to just such a device. It’s the HDMI Splitter from Gang Hu.
Since the component-only Slingbox is destine for obsolescence, one would think that Slingbox would be all over this technology, build it into their devices or at least be a distributor, right? Well, all they do is describe the product and link to Gang Hu’s site so you can order the $59 device from them directly. Note that this is the only HDMI splitter I could find that converts the signal into component! It also is the only thing that Gang Hu sells and you cannot get it anywhere else. Moreover, the label on the bottom appears to say it is made by FrontierFactory. The name of the device is–get this–the “Slingbox HDMI Konbaata.” Konbaata is written in Japanese and I assume is bad English for
Combater converter. (HAHA funny. I wonder if this device was designed for a specific purpose… ;-P) No UL listing and it’s made in China.
What does all this tell you? It tells you that it’s probably dancing the line of legality and that’s probably pushing it. Slingbox is obviously trying keep a safe distance from the sale of the device by putting up a proverbial Chinese wall.
So what did I do? I ordered two. HAHA. I just would not be surprised if someone sued this device out of existence and I wanted a backup.
Installing the splitter is straight-forward. You connect the DirecTV box to the splitter and the splitter to your TV, via HDMI. Then you connect the Slingbox to the splitter using a component cable. The device requires USB-power, but as luck would have it, the DirecTV box sports a USB jack that worked fine.
I believe the way it’s supposed to work is that the TV needs to on so that there is compliance with the so-called broadcast (i.e., copy protection) flag. What’s interesting is that I’m watching the DirecTV box now on my PC over WiFi and the TV is off! Now there are a couple possibilities as to why this is working: 1) the TV is essentially on even when it’s off; 2) there is no flag on the content I’m watching; 3) the Xbox One passthru is making the DirecTV box think the TV is always on; or 4) the splitter isn’t following the rules. Personally, I don’t really care. If it comes down to the TV having to be on, so be it. It would be worth it.
The Slingbox video is crystal clear and you can’t tell any conversion is going on. The audio is a tad choppy, but I can live with it. Personally, I’m really happy that such a device exists and I can continue to use my Slingbox. Thank you Gang Hu!