A few months ago I purchased a refurbished HP dv7 Entertainment Notebook under the guise that I would use it as my primary desktop computer at home. Having an HD television in my room, I wanted to use this "entertainment" laptop as a basic media center for which I could watch movies and television shows streamed from my computer and shown on my television. This didn't seem too difficult to do. My laptop contained quick-launch media software as well as a mini-remote for easy navigation and control from across the room.
However, I quickly learned that all is not perfect; even with factory refurbished equipment. Upon plugging in a HDMI cable to my laptop's HDMI port, I was saddened to discover that while video displayed perfectly on my TV, sound continued to play only from my computer. Now, I am no technical genius; however, I know enough from previous experience that HDMI does support audio so I was concerned that it was not working. Naturally, I googled it to see if there was a listed solution for this issue.
To my surprise, the number results that came up for others with the same problem as me was fairly overwhelming in quantity. It seems HP notebooks were well known for having issues with audio output failure for their HDMI ports. This issue seemed to also affect a variety of other laptops from other manufacturers as well. Many of these laptops were running on a 64-bit operating system - usually some version of Windows Vista.
Most of the solutions offered by people on various forums and discussion boards dealt mainly with messing around with the Sound Settings through Window's control panel. While this method worked for some people, I noticed several others in each thread who continued to state that their problem was not solved by trying their methods. After going through the motions and trying what was recommended, I too found myself in that group of people whose HDMI port continued to not output sound to my television.
Thinking as many consumers do, I decided it was time to go to HP's Technical Support in hopes of solving this problem. That choice was a big mistake and a compete waste of time. After spending over four hours talking with a collection of technicians and supervisors, I found myself in no better of a situation than I had started. None of the technicians offered support beyond the most basic level of assistance that I had found on other forums. The only thing the technicians could recommend was it was likely a "hardware problem" that needed servicing at a local "HP service center" - my service center was simply my local Best Buy's Geek Squad. Naturally, I would likely have to pay an arm and a leg for it.
In the end, I was left feeling dejected and annoyed at being convinced into buying a notebook that had an obvious and known performance issue. And I let myself learn to live without it for a few months.
Then came along Hulu's new desktop application which allowed fast access and easy navigation of their streaming video database all through an application on one's desktop! The seller was this program worked perfectly with my mini-remote as well. Visions of my media center swirled through my head again and I decided to try to solve my HDMI audio issues once and for all. This time around, I would try to prepare better and would not give up until I had discovered a solution.
The following is what I found:
Even knowing only an intermediate level of technical knowledge about computers, it is obvious that there are two potential issues with this. Software based or Hardware based. Software is of course the easiest to solve of the two, provided there is a working piece of software out there to fix it. I knew that since my HDMI port dealt with the audio and video aspect of my computer, looking at my video and audio drivers would be the right place to start. I quickly discovered my video card (ATI Radeon HD 3200) but finding information on what type of audio drivers I might need proved more difficult.
To figure out what I had, I had to know what my chipset was for my notebook. If you don't know what a chipset is or what it technically does, in truth, you don't really need to worry about knowing. You simply need to know what chipset it IS in order to figure out what type of drivers will work with it. After some digging on google (I used Radeon HD 3200 as part of my search prompt) I found an answer. My HP dv7 ran with an AMD 780G chipset.
Googling once again, this time with a prompt for HD audio issues with the AMD 780G, I was quickly able to find more information. It seemed my notebook used Realtek audio drivers for sound and the main reason I wasn't getting output through my HDMI was likely due to outdated drivers. After some more searching I quickly found a forum that discussed all the recent Realtek audio drivers released for Windows Vista. The link can be found here.
I found a link that connected to Realtek's most recent HD audio driver update (note, v.28 is now outdated, see link at bottom for most recent) and downloaded the file. Link here. After installing Realtek's audio driver, I quickly restarted. Bingo! My audio immediately began outputting to my television. It seemed the previous driver version had known issues with compatibility for Windows Vista (in particular the 64-bit version) and Realtek had only just recently addressed the issue back in March or April of this year.
What confused me though was why this HD audio driver was no where to be found on HP's support site which lists all known updates for each specific computer they manufacture. The only HD audio driver listed is an outdated one that does not make the HDMI port work. Further, it was frustrating to realize that HP had never bothered to try to address this issue from a software standpoint. While my notebook had recently been factory refurbished, it was obviously never updated on even the most fundamental drivers and software. Then when issues presented themselves, as should be expected with outdated drivers, the technicians continued to fail to provide appropriate technical service.
When normal fiddling of the standard Windows settings didn't work, HP's technical support simply wrote it off as a hardware problem. This results in HP requesting the consumer to send in or drop of their unit for an unspecified amount of time as technicians take it apart and try to figure out why it isn't working. Naturally, with most of the cost of these "services" falling on the consumer.
In truth, a simple driver based solution can be provided to fix an issue that I know many people are having with their HDMI ports not outputting sound. For HP's with AMD processors, you will likely be using Realtek audio drivers that need to be updated. In particular, search for a HD audio driver that is compatible with your system. A simple driver installation may be all you need to get that HDMI port working properly.
Realtek's [official] HD audio driver download website: Link
Try it out and let me know on here if it worked for you.