HDTV, The Future Of TV

At this point in time, I think it is safe to say that we have all heard of HDTV. But is it safe to assume that we all understand what HDTV is? The fact is that there is a lot of confusion, and misinformation about HDTV out there.

I have an intelligent friend, who will remain nameless, that knows absolutely nothing about HDTV. He comes over to my place to watch the game, in HD, and knows the picture look fantastic, but he has not idea why. And unfortunately he is unable tell the difference between an LCD computer monitor and a HDTV. While the difference is now minimal, it brings up a good point. What defines a HDTV?

HD Logo

Consumers need to be careful as there are many options out there when purchasing an HDTV. Currently there are regulations in place that require manufactures to include a ATSC tuner in any new TV set over 25 inches. This is good for the consumer, because chances are that is all the consumer will need. Currently it is not realistic to expect to get free over the air HD (ATSC). While it does exist in some locations, most will need to get a digital cable or satellite box and service to get HD programing. But a tuner is important for future applications.

All of these complexities make the transition to HDTV difficult on the consumer, which is not a good thing. Consumer are left having to figure things out for themselves and often times get the wrong information. The Mac Observer recently posted this interesting article:

The HDTV industry has glossed over the potential for technically uneducated customers to become alarmed when their TVs stop working after February 17, 2009. This concern was expressed on Monday by HDTV Magazine.

The U.S. Government has defined a hard cutoff date for the broadcast of over-the-air analog TV of February 17, 2009. All TV sets that depend on over-the-air NTSC signals will cease to function the next day. But the government and industry haven’t expressed adequate concern for potential irate phone calls from Americans who won’t understand what is happening or the technical issues involved. However, a few thoughtful people in the industry are taking the situation more seriously.

The fact that 30% of HDTV owners are not connected to HDTV content is also considered a failure of the HDTV industry. “That is different from the days when early adopters of Color TV did everything they could to get high performance out of their systems and show those glorious TV pictures to as many as possible, as often as possible.”

In response to these failures, a consumer education program is being developed by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). However, the public has become so jaded by special interest groups exploiting consumers that the message must be supported by all the stakeholders according to Dale Cripps, the magazine founder. And there may need to be a “unifier,” or a Czar charged with the responsibility to minimize the pain in all sectors.

The Society of Moton Picture Engineers has noted that, historically, increases in communication have brought an increase in business volume. There is great concern that the lack of consumer education about HDTV will retard this growth.

We can only hope that things will change quickly, and more information is provided to consumers in an efficient and accurate manner. HDTV is a truly wonderful experience that should be viewed by all.