Q I have my set-top cable box and Blu-ray player connected to my receiver via HDMI. Another HDMI cable connects my receiver to my TV. I change between my cable box and Blu-ray player by changing inputs on the receiver. I use a Logitech remote to control everything.

Lately, when I turn on everything it takes six or seven minutes for the picture to show up on the TV. During this time, I keep getting the message "no signal" on the TV. Is it my receiver or the cable box causing the delay, and what should I do?

A It's not any one component causing the problem but the way they interact. It sounds as if you're dealing with an "HDMI handshake" issue.

Digital components connected via HDMI use a copy protection system called HDCP. When components are switched on or connected, they talk to each other via the HDMI cable, verify the HDCP and then allow the picture to be displayed. This verification is commonly referred to as the "HDMI handshake."

With my home-theater system, the processor says "need HDCP monitor" when the handshake isn't established, and I find myself staring at a screen that either flickers or is solid blue or black.

Typically, changing inputs is all that is needed to establish the HDMI handshake. If you want to watch your cable box, change the input on your receiver to something else and change it back to the cable box. You can change it to any input, because all you are doing is breaking the connection between the cable box and the receiver and re-establishing it. This should get things working for you right away.

Your remote might be part of the problem. Many universal remotes have an option to turn all the components on at once with a single press of a button. The most reliable way to establish a good HDMI handshake is to turn on the television first and let it boot up, then turn on the receiver, then turn on the cable box and Blu-ray player. Just think of yourself as starting at the TV and going backward over the cables to the receiver and then the components.

It could be that the remote is turning on the components in a different order. As a result, you aren't getting a good handshake most of the time.

The components used, their price or their age don't seem to have much bearing on whether you get HDMI handshake issues or not. The system in my bedroom is much more modest than my home theater, yet I have many more HDMI handshake issues with the high-end setup. Sometimes I have to change inputs several times before I finally get a good handshake and can start viewing.

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