Another detail to check out, if you want to play high definition content on your computer, or there is any chance you might decide to in the future, is HDCP. High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection is a DRM scheme included on some high def media. If your equipment doesn’t support HDCP, it won’t be able to deliver the media at full resolution, or at all. Looking for HDCP capable monitors and graphics cards doesn’t significantly drive up price or reduce selection, so you may as well get it. Even if you never make use of it, three years from now, the family member you give it to or person you sell it to might appreciate it.
This wasn’t the case only a couple years ago. When HDCP showed up on media in 2006, it wasn’t in a lot of hardware on store shelves, let alone user’s desks. Many people found that their monitors and graphics cards would have to be replaced to play the new content, even very expensive recently purchased ones.
So even if your monitor or graphics card uses a digital signal, it may not support HDCP. While you will benefit from digital video in computing applications, playing HDCP content will require an HDCP card and monitor. That means that if you are already half-way to DVI, you can still get to digital in one upgrade, but getting HDCP capability may require a second.
For instance, your monitor is digital, your graphics card is analog. You buy a digital card and get the benefits of digital quality, but can’t play HDCP because your monitor doesn’t support it. The next time you upgrade your monitor, you can get an HDCP ready one. You are now DVI/HDCP capable provided you had the good sense to buy an HDCP graphics card.
In summary, you should look for HDCP and DVI support when you perform a monitor or graphics card upgrade. Neither standard restricts you to using only equipment that shares the it, so you can work the transitions in one upgrade at a time. You don’t get the extra functionality immediately when upgrading just one of the monitor or graphics card. But, for no or little cost, or reduction in selection, it paves the way to bring in the advantages when you upgrade the other component.