HDMI-CEC Guide: What it is and why you should have it (and use it)


In paper, all HDMI-CEC use cases should work as intended, and in practice, it does on correctly implemented devices. This is actually the most relevant caveat:

  • Improper or incorrect implementation –  HDMI-CEC doesn’t define use cases nor end user behaviour. It only specifies the messages CEC devices needed to be sent, received and acted upon. So, although being designed on the 90’s and present on the HDMI spec since 2005, only from around 2010 can we find proper implementations of HDMI-CEC on TVs and AV receivers. Even today (2014), we cannot take CEC for granted on a white label TV, or even on most STBs. To make things worst, as usual on HDMI, certification doesn’t ensure that all HDMI features are present on a HDMI product, but only that a declared list of features were indeed tested and certified. This lists are seldom made public, so it is extremely difficult for a shopper to take an informed decision on the store.
  • War of the remote controller – The fact that most CEC support comes from the TV manufacturers does not comes from chance, but from the fact that the TV was elected the root device and controller. On a world where DVD and Bluray players got irrelevant, free to air TV is less than 20% of the market and cable (or fiber pay-tv) dominates, the biggest block on CEC road is actually the cable companies, which won’t be giving up the STB remote. From the cable companies view, the STB remote is the contact point to the user, and giving that away is like giving up control of the user, from both the user interface as from a technical support point of view. As you can imagine, cable companies will resist this movement until economically feasible.
  • Proprietary remote keys – The only thing that doesn’t work automatically and seamlessly is precisely all the proprietary and unusual remote keys such as “On Demand” or the operator’s dedicated key. Those have a fairly high variability and as such where not defined on CEC. However, a clever user interface on the STB can easily mitigate this issue, as the “Menu” key is both properly mapped and present on the TV remote.

All the above tend to become a thing of the past, as the industry moves to simplify the AV experience, and users demand such features, both from the TV manufactures and cable complains alike.


AV control as come a long way since SCART’s image format control which mostly supported automatic input selection. Although, it hasn’t advanced as much as it is now technically possible it works on a large number of devices, enough for most users to be fully satisfied by it.

As the above use cases demonstrate, using a properly implemented HDMI-CEC setup transforms a cumbersome and complex AV setup into a seamless AV experience, with a single point of control. AV systems cannot be of complex usage, and today’s living rooms to demand the usage of a proper 5.1+ audio systems, all of this without the complications of an disorganised electronic industry.

Leave a Reply

Back to Top