March 11, 2005 4:00 AM PST

Clearing up the HDTV picture

The sharp picture quality that wows you on that expensive HDTV in the electronics store isn't necessarily what you'll see once you get the set into your living room.

In some cases, retailers run video into the sets from closed circuit networks. They do that for various reasons, including wanting to demonstrate the sets' capabilities and keep pranksters from turning to racy programming. But the practice may be distorting consumer expectations, leading to disappointing experiences--and product returns.

"There is no doubt there are higher return rates on HD sets than analog televisions," said Mike Vitelli, senior vice president of consumer electronics at retail giant Best Buy.

News.context

What's new:
Consumers want their HDTVs, but they're not always as happy with their fancy sets as they expected to be.

Bottom line:
Creating the ideal HD viewing experience for consumers has posed its difficulties. First off, buyers need to understand that having a TV with a built-in HD tuner only gets them halfway to HDTV heaven. HD service from a cable or satellite provider helps to complete the picture.

More stories on this topic

The discrepancy in picture quality, however, isn't the only reason customers bring their high-definition TVs back. Some haul their expensive sets home only to get hit by a case of buyers' remorse, Vitelli said. Then there's the issue of video source. "It should almost be illegal to buy an HD set unless you can prove you have HD service," he said.

With shipments of flat-panel televisions expected to more than double in North American markets this year compared to last (and similarly rapid growth expected in coming years), Vitelli and other retail and television service executives don't want to kill the golden goose.

Still, creating the ideal HD viewing experience for consumers has posed its difficulties.

Early on, customer support lines for television set makers, retailers and service operators often shuttled complaining customers back and forth, leaving many wondering if the industry could get its act together to sell to and support HDTV consumers.

More recently, retailers and cable companies have been working in tandem to sell HD products to consumers. Comcast, for example, has been working on partnerships with Best Buy and Circuit City to improve training of their salespeople. Best Buy has been running rebates for cable services with the purchase of new televisions.

The result has been higher subscription rates for HD service. The 800,000 Comcast subscribers who signed up for HD service started when Comcast began working with retail chains to better educate their salespeople.

LG's DU-62SY20D
Credit: CNET Networks
Some users don't fully maximize
their HDTV experience. Above is
LG's 62-inch DLP DU-62SY20D.

Still, after spending thousands of dollars on fancy new high-definition televisions, owners commonly don't even watch shows in HD programming, according to Bruce Leichtman, principal analyst at research firm Leichtman Research Group.

"Call it cognitive dissonance or ignorance is bliss, but most households, about two-thirds, aren't watching shows in HD even though they think they are," Leichtman said.

Vitelli isn't surprised. "I would agree with that guestimate without even seeing (the data behind) it," he said.

Ignorant bliss or not, HD television shipments have been soaring. In 2003, 3.7 million digital sets were shipped in North America. That number will more than triple to 14.9 million units by 2005, according to research firm iSuppli.

Halfway to high-def
Fueling the surging demand is consumers' desire for sharp images that only HD sets can display, as well as immense screen sizes that don't degrade picture quality. Access to high-definition programming and broadcasts is a major selling point for HD sets--without it, consumers aren't really getting the high-definition television they paid for.

The high-definition television experience is comprised of an HD set and a service that can display high-definition programming. But consumers can easily confuse either end of that equation--by purchasing a television that can't play HD content

CONTINUED:
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84 comments

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Add your comment
Hmm
Well my problem is when I go to the HD channels there is hardly ever anything in HD, plus it's annoying watching the screen change size when comercials come on. Why not have HD comercials? Also people are used to certain channels being on a certain channel number. If I want to watch survivor I know it's on channel 3. Though it might be on in HD on channel 298 or something, but it takes time to adjust to looking on the higher numbered channels.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hmm
Well my problem is when I go to the HD channels there is hardly ever anything in HD, plus it's annoying watching the screen change size when comercials come on. Why not have HD comercials? Also people are used to certain channels being on a certain channel number. If I want to watch survivor I know it's on channel 3. Though it might be on in HD on channel 298 or something, but it takes time to adjust to looking on the higher numbered channels.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't need HD TV tuner with HD cable
I disagree with the statement in the article that you need an HD tuner with the TV to watch HD TV. That is only true if you are watching of the airwaves. Comcast provides an HD cable box, which is required, to watch their HD channels. Your TV must be HD capable, but Comcast provides the HD tuner with the cable box.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That's true.....
.... for any cable or satellite service. That's also why most
HDTV's have only a standard TV tuner, if any at all. With the
futurre of TV, for a large fraction ov viewers, lying within caable
or satellite systems, the potential of broadcast TV using HDTV is
pretty small, especially considering the expense involved.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
But HDTV is line of sight only
True, you can pick up HDTV over the air from a lcoal station. But unlike regular TV, the transmission requires an absolute unobstucted line of sight to be received in high def, an the transmitter range of HDTV stations is much less.

I any given setup with a home antenna three will be far few channels within range.
Posted by PolarUpgrade (103 comments )
Link Flag
Don't need HD TV tuner with HD cable
I disagree with the statement in the article that you need an HD tuner with the TV to watch HD TV. That is only true if you are watching of the airwaves. Comcast provides an HD cable box, which is required, to watch their HD channels. Your TV must be HD capable, but Comcast provides the HD tuner with the cable box.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That's true.....
.... for any cable or satellite service. That's also why most
HDTV's have only a standard TV tuner, if any at all. With the
futurre of TV, for a large fraction ov viewers, lying within caable
or satellite systems, the potential of broadcast TV using HDTV is
pretty small, especially considering the expense involved.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
But HDTV is line of sight only
True, you can pick up HDTV over the air from a lcoal station. But unlike regular TV, the transmission requires an absolute unobstucted line of sight to be received in high def, an the transmitter range of HDTV stations is much less.

I any given setup with a home antenna three will be far few channels within range.
Posted by PolarUpgrade (103 comments )
Link Flag
HD is little better than "digital"
Here in Canada my cable service offers a very limited range of HDTV channels which show only a few HDTV shows each a week. And on these only a small proportion of shows displayed were filmed in HDTV to start with. You should note in your story that THREE (3) and NOT 2 things make up HDTV: An HDTV set, and HDTV tranmsission, AND a show originally filmed in HDTV format (or newly imaged from film in HDTV).

The HDTV service and decoder would add $30 a month to a bill that is already $86.00. No way am I paying $1,500 a year (taxes included) for such marginal benefit.

One caution I'd offer to potential HDTV buyers is that most bigger TVs (20" and up) made in the last 10 years use an scan line interpolation feature that enhances the perception of signal sharpness. When commbined with analog channels delivered digitally via fibre optic, as is the case with my provider, the sharpness is visually identical to HDTV at normal viewing distances.

This is why consumers don't miss the HDTV signal: It is little understood that the HDTV's extra resolution is no help on HDTVs with a veritcal height less than that found on a convewntional 33" set. So you must spend huge bucks to get an HDTV set that can deliver in practice a better signal than digitally delivered analog TV.

THe real truth is that a lot of the apparent fuzziness in a TV signal is because much of the remarkable sharpness of regular TV signals at the head end (as in viewed at the TV station) is lost in transmission. HDTV simply does not take the viewer far enough beyond this signal, digitally preserved to the set, to make consumers want it. Bottom line: HDTV is a pricey luxury nobody needs for a crisp picture. One will not miss the extra HDTV detail viweing a set at 15 feet, quite frankly. And not at $1,500+ a year.
Posted by PolarUpgrade (103 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You get cheap prescriptions...
...but you do get screwed on your cable costs. HDTV service
from DirecTV in the US is only $10 a month. Set top box is
maybe another $5 a month. That's half the Canadian cost, and
we don't have to put up with having everything in French too.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
It is pricey
I agree, Comcast here in florida is 70 dollars for one premium channel and of all those channels the locals are availible in HD and the premium channel is only availible some times. I got a good deal and im happy but how much does it cost to provide HD signals. Internet has come down why should HD be something that costs so much that you have to choose between ok or a little better. Also DVD players are scares, with upconverters and then the DVD has to be in progressive! I think it will be a while but how can they think about slowly starting HD signals when its clear everyone wants it. They(the companies and stations) need to step up and put out some good HD, not a show here and there.
Posted by baggyguy1218 (155 comments )
Link Flag
HD is little better than "digital"
Here in Canada my cable service offers a very limited range of HDTV channels which show only a few HDTV shows each a week. And on these only a small proportion of shows displayed were filmed in HDTV to start with. You should note in your story that THREE (3) and NOT 2 things make up HDTV: An HDTV set, and HDTV tranmsission, AND a show originally filmed in HDTV format (or newly imaged from film in HDTV).

The HDTV service and decoder would add $30 a month to a bill that is already $86.00. No way am I paying $1,500 a year (taxes included) for such marginal benefit.

One caution I'd offer to potential HDTV buyers is that most bigger TVs (20" and up) made in the last 10 years use an scan line interpolation feature that enhances the perception of signal sharpness. When commbined with analog channels delivered digitally via fibre optic, as is the case with my provider, the sharpness is visually identical to HDTV at normal viewing distances.

This is why consumers don't miss the HDTV signal: It is little understood that the HDTV's extra resolution is no help on HDTVs with a veritcal height less than that found on a convewntional 33" set. So you must spend huge bucks to get an HDTV set that can deliver in practice a better signal than digitally delivered analog TV.

THe real truth is that a lot of the apparent fuzziness in a TV signal is because much of the remarkable sharpness of regular TV signals at the head end (as in viewed at the TV station) is lost in transmission. HDTV simply does not take the viewer far enough beyond this signal, digitally preserved to the set, to make consumers want it. Bottom line: HDTV is a pricey luxury nobody needs for a crisp picture. One will not miss the extra HDTV detail viweing a set at 15 feet, quite frankly. And not at $1,500+ a year.
Posted by PolarUpgrade (103 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You get cheap prescriptions...
...but you do get screwed on your cable costs. HDTV service
from DirecTV in the US is only $10 a month. Set top box is
maybe another $5 a month. That's half the Canadian cost, and
we don't have to put up with having everything in French too.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
It is pricey
I agree, Comcast here in florida is 70 dollars for one premium channel and of all those channels the locals are availible in HD and the premium channel is only availible some times. I got a good deal and im happy but how much does it cost to provide HD signals. Internet has come down why should HD be something that costs so much that you have to choose between ok or a little better. Also DVD players are scares, with upconverters and then the DVD has to be in progressive! I think it will be a while but how can they think about slowly starting HD signals when its clear everyone wants it. They(the companies and stations) need to step up and put out some good HD, not a show here and there.
Posted by baggyguy1218 (155 comments )
Link Flag
HDTV
I have a HDTV reciever dish etc watch as many programs as possible that way. Wasted my money as providers are not uploading to Satellite TV except for Vroom which is busy going belly up.

Its called Buyer Beware

Bought HDTV from Best buy and unless you pay close to 500 for service contract u are screwed on 91st day, BB will Not support
Posted by MajorCB (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HDTV
I have a HDTV reciever dish etc watch as many programs as possible that way. Wasted my money as providers are not uploading to Satellite TV except for Vroom which is busy going belly up.

Its called Buyer Beware

Bought HDTV from Best buy and unless you pay close to 500 for service contract u are screwed on 91st day, BB will Not support
Posted by MajorCB (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What about Over The Airways (OTA) Programming?
This article completely ignores the fact that you can receive HD programming for free using an antenna. Most of the country population is in the range of this broadcasting.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Only when you can receive...
.. the local channels via antenna, and then only if the stations
are actually broadcasting in HDTV, and then only if you have a
set-top (or built-in) HDTV TV tuner.

Where I live, antennaa are a waster of money, and the maybe
only one of the local channels don't broadcast in HDTV anyway. I
do know that Fox does a lot of advertising thet NASCAR is
broadcast in HDTV. My mickey mouse local Fox station doesn't
do HDTV, but they still refuse the give me access to the Fox net
channels from the satellite that are in HDTV.

So I watch NASCAR on 4x3 TV. After all, it is the only show on
the Fox network that is worth watching.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
You are correct, sir
You sure have that right. The biggest untold story in HDTV is that OTA (over the air) television has gone from the lowest quality video source (well VHS is even more awful) to absolutely the best. It is better than VHS tape, the old NTSC OTA, laserdisc, digital cable and satellite, and DVD. Because it uses a digitally encoded signal you don't have the signal degradation you get with analog. So if you get a picture it is at the stated reolution.

But there is a lot of money to be made by usually unnecessary middle men who take a digital signal and repackage it for delivery to your home. There are a handful of programs on HBO and Showtime but almost all the popular series in HD are available for free if you get an antenna and ATSC capable receiver.

Someone earlier implied this was an expensive proposition. Buying a receiver and putting up an antenna are one time costs. Cable and satellite are options that you never finish purchasing. You get to pay that $50 - $100 bill every month forever. Which option is really more expensive?

But the bigger issue is not the choice you might make on that particular question. The bigger issue is that most people don't understand that the free option exists. They have been trained to believe you need cable/satellite and most would confidently assert you have to pay in order to get HDTV. In fact one person who was trying to get a problem resolved in the HD signal of a local station and was told that if he was getting the signal without cable or satellite he must be pirating it! The station employee was so stupid she did not know it was available by using an antenna. I use the term 'stupid' because the person is in the business and still unaware.
Posted by Steve Bryan (92 comments )
Link Flag
What about Over The Airways (OTA) Programming?
This article completely ignores the fact that you can receive HD programming for free using an antenna. Most of the country population is in the range of this broadcasting.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Only when you can receive...
.. the local channels via antenna, and then only if the stations
are actually broadcasting in HDTV, and then only if you have a
set-top (or built-in) HDTV TV tuner.

Where I live, antennaa are a waster of money, and the maybe
only one of the local channels don't broadcast in HDTV anyway. I
do know that Fox does a lot of advertising thet NASCAR is
broadcast in HDTV. My mickey mouse local Fox station doesn't
do HDTV, but they still refuse the give me access to the Fox net
channels from the satellite that are in HDTV.

So I watch NASCAR on 4x3 TV. After all, it is the only show on
the Fox network that is worth watching.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
You are correct, sir
You sure have that right. The biggest untold story in HDTV is that OTA (over the air) television has gone from the lowest quality video source (well VHS is even more awful) to absolutely the best. It is better than VHS tape, the old NTSC OTA, laserdisc, digital cable and satellite, and DVD. Because it uses a digitally encoded signal you don't have the signal degradation you get with analog. So if you get a picture it is at the stated reolution.

But there is a lot of money to be made by usually unnecessary middle men who take a digital signal and repackage it for delivery to your home. There are a handful of programs on HBO and Showtime but almost all the popular series in HD are available for free if you get an antenna and ATSC capable receiver.

Someone earlier implied this was an expensive proposition. Buying a receiver and putting up an antenna are one time costs. Cable and satellite are options that you never finish purchasing. You get to pay that $50 - $100 bill every month forever. Which option is really more expensive?

But the bigger issue is not the choice you might make on that particular question. The bigger issue is that most people don't understand that the free option exists. They have been trained to believe you need cable/satellite and most would confidently assert you have to pay in order to get HDTV. In fact one person who was trying to get a problem resolved in the HD signal of a local station and was told that if he was getting the signal without cable or satellite he must be pirating it! The station employee was so stupid she did not know it was available by using an antenna. I use the term 'stupid' because the person is in the business and still unaware.
Posted by Steve Bryan (92 comments )
Link Flag
Forget all of this
If your current TV sucks get an EDTV now and wait for over air transmissions in the next 2-3 years. The broadcasters will have to switch when the spectrum is sold. I have and HDTV Card in my computer (about $100) and pickup a couple of shows I watch in HD. It's really nothing to wet oneself over.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You are not doing HD a fair service
EDTV which is Enhanced Digital TV which was originally developed for closed circuit or digital signals. I've checked out both units in side by side comparison test. EDTV units work great when used with digital cable. An HDTV set with the same setup is drastically more clearer and sharper. Do not close the book on HDTV just yet. EDTV may cost a few hundred dollars less, you get what you pay for. The issue for many consumers is that retail outlets are not being truthful in the way the units are displayed in the store. Closed circuit video feeds and signal boosters allow for the crisp and crystal clear pictures.
Posted by mavericknj (4 comments )
Link Flag
Forget all of this
If your current TV sucks get an EDTV now and wait for over air transmissions in the next 2-3 years. The broadcasters will have to switch when the spectrum is sold. I have and HDTV Card in my computer (about $100) and pickup a couple of shows I watch in HD. It's really nothing to wet oneself over.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You are not doing HD a fair service
EDTV which is Enhanced Digital TV which was originally developed for closed circuit or digital signals. I've checked out both units in side by side comparison test. EDTV units work great when used with digital cable. An HDTV set with the same setup is drastically more clearer and sharper. Do not close the book on HDTV just yet. EDTV may cost a few hundred dollars less, you get what you pay for. The issue for many consumers is that retail outlets are not being truthful in the way the units are displayed in the store. Closed circuit video feeds and signal boosters allow for the crisp and crystal clear pictures.
Posted by mavericknj (4 comments )
Link Flag
Watch non-HDTV programming and void your warranty
Thank you for your nice article. But, I think the most important issue regarding the plasma HDTV or EDTV television was complete overlooked. And it is a con perpetrated upon the public.

I think we all can agree that regardless of, or lack of, HDTV programming, the bulk of viewing is the good ol' standard 4:3 aspect ratio of standard broadcasting. This means viewers of the plasma TVs must either watch a distorted image, if their TV is in the 16:9 HDTV aspect ratio, making everyone look fat and bent out of shape, or switching the TV to the narrower screen, i.e., 4:3 aspect ratio.

But viewer beware, as I found out the hard way. If the bulk of your viewing is in the narrower mode, you'll soon discover when you decide to rent a DVD movie, that the "sidebars" (that area on the left and right side of the viewing area that was normally "not lit" during 4:3 viewing), will appear much lighter when switched to 16:9. You may not notice it at first glance, but wait for a pause in programming, such as occurs for a second or two, when a TV station breaks for a commercial and the screen is all "black". Then it will be very obvious. You'll see the screen divided into three sections; the two sidebars on the extreme left and right of the screen and the center area.

This is what is called "burn in" and voids your warranty! So, what is one supposed to do? Either watch the standard broadast (non-HDTV) the way it was supposed to be viewed and void your warranty, or watch it in stretched-out mode and make everything look weird, or set the TV into Zoom mode and cut off the top and bottom of the viewing area.

In other words, there is no solution to enjoy standard broadcast TV on a plasma screen TV without voiding your warranty!
Posted by VirtualDavid (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Are you sure?
Are you sure that it actually voids the warranty. I know it's not covered by the warranty, but I hadn't heard that it will actually void your warranty if something else where to happen to the TV.
Posted by (69 comments )
Link Flag
That is correct...
My cousin has a 46in rear projection HDTV, he receives his programming thru Dish Network, and he thinks it is the greatest thing since sliced bread, I go over there and we watch 4x3 television all squashed, he says you get use to it after a while, I just can't stand it. It really gets on my nerves, not to mention it is all pixilated because he is watching a squashed standard digital satellite signal blown up on rear projection TV and were sitting 4 feet away from it. I just don't get it, but he will never admit that it looks like crap because he paid $1600 from RTO for it, which he is still forced to pay payments on a year later. When I get home I am actually relieved to go back to my 27in TV. I will say this, DVD's look really good on it, but if there not 16x9 you still get the black bars, unless you blow it up and lose a little bit on the left and the right of the picture.

BTW: Why do some HDTV's when you do set the TV to view 4x3 correctly it has grey bars on the left and right? You would think black bars would at least be less noticeable.
Posted by (13 comments )
Link Flag
Watch non-HDTV programming and void your warranty
Thank you for your nice article. But, I think the most important issue regarding the plasma HDTV or EDTV television was complete overlooked. And it is a con perpetrated upon the public.

I think we all can agree that regardless of, or lack of, HDTV programming, the bulk of viewing is the good ol' standard 4:3 aspect ratio of standard broadcasting. This means viewers of the plasma TVs must either watch a distorted image, if their TV is in the 16:9 HDTV aspect ratio, making everyone look fat and bent out of shape, or switching the TV to the narrower screen, i.e., 4:3 aspect ratio.

But viewer beware, as I found out the hard way. If the bulk of your viewing is in the narrower mode, you'll soon discover when you decide to rent a DVD movie, that the "sidebars" (that area on the left and right side of the viewing area that was normally "not lit" during 4:3 viewing), will appear much lighter when switched to 16:9. You may not notice it at first glance, but wait for a pause in programming, such as occurs for a second or two, when a TV station breaks for a commercial and the screen is all "black". Then it will be very obvious. You'll see the screen divided into three sections; the two sidebars on the extreme left and right of the screen and the center area.

This is what is called "burn in" and voids your warranty! So, what is one supposed to do? Either watch the standard broadast (non-HDTV) the way it was supposed to be viewed and void your warranty, or watch it in stretched-out mode and make everything look weird, or set the TV into Zoom mode and cut off the top and bottom of the viewing area.

In other words, there is no solution to enjoy standard broadcast TV on a plasma screen TV without voiding your warranty!
Posted by VirtualDavid (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Are you sure?
Are you sure that it actually voids the warranty. I know it's not covered by the warranty, but I hadn't heard that it will actually void your warranty if something else where to happen to the TV.
Posted by (69 comments )
Link Flag
That is correct...
My cousin has a 46in rear projection HDTV, he receives his programming thru Dish Network, and he thinks it is the greatest thing since sliced bread, I go over there and we watch 4x3 television all squashed, he says you get use to it after a while, I just can't stand it. It really gets on my nerves, not to mention it is all pixilated because he is watching a squashed standard digital satellite signal blown up on rear projection TV and were sitting 4 feet away from it. I just don't get it, but he will never admit that it looks like crap because he paid $1600 from RTO for it, which he is still forced to pay payments on a year later. When I get home I am actually relieved to go back to my 27in TV. I will say this, DVD's look really good on it, but if there not 16x9 you still get the black bars, unless you blow it up and lose a little bit on the left and the right of the picture.

BTW: Why do some HDTV's when you do set the TV to view 4x3 correctly it has grey bars on the left and right? You would think black bars would at least be less noticeable.
Posted by (13 comments )
Link Flag
SDTV Welfare Networks
Comcast took a very aggressive approach to HDTV and when they rebuilt my neighborhood I dropped satellite for their packages. The only problem is that they make you subscribe to SDTV packages which I call "welfare networks" that I *never* watch. These SD networks at their 1 mbps or less bandwidth look terrible on my 53" HD set. Plus the IRE level is for analog making them look dark and green. Perhaps newer sets (mine is over 4 years old) have gamma compensation settings for SD (it should be built into the HD cable box) but thats not what I'm hearing from new HD owners.

Also not all HD is going to be created with HD cameras. With film you usually won't get a sharp image unless it is well lit or daytime shot. Some people ignorantly think that every scene should look pristine in HD (they'll be big fans of DiscoveryHD and INHD Imax shows). But scene softness may often be done on purpose and with film you often loose sharpness when shooting a night scene etc.

This may all be a moot point next year after HD-DVD is on the market. It would have been here already if it hadn't been the red and blue laser squabble.

Still I would rather not watch TV at all than to go back to analog.
Posted by (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
SDTV Welfare Networks
Comcast took a very aggressive approach to HDTV and when they rebuilt my neighborhood I dropped satellite for their packages. The only problem is that they make you subscribe to SDTV packages which I call "welfare networks" that I *never* watch. These SD networks at their 1 mbps or less bandwidth look terrible on my 53" HD set. Plus the IRE level is for analog making them look dark and green. Perhaps newer sets (mine is over 4 years old) have gamma compensation settings for SD (it should be built into the HD cable box) but thats not what I'm hearing from new HD owners.

Also not all HD is going to be created with HD cameras. With film you usually won't get a sharp image unless it is well lit or daytime shot. Some people ignorantly think that every scene should look pristine in HD (they'll be big fans of DiscoveryHD and INHD Imax shows). But scene softness may often be done on purpose and with film you often loose sharpness when shooting a night scene etc.

This may all be a moot point next year after HD-DVD is on the market. It would have been here already if it hadn't been the red and blue laser squabble.

Still I would rather not watch TV at all than to go back to analog.
Posted by (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Comcast HD signal problems
I've had Comcast HD service for more than a year now and the biggest problem I have is the picture breaking up due to intermittent signal interuption. The problem only affects the HD channels. Comcast has replaced my HD cable box at least 6 times. The problem typically goes away for a while but soon returns. According to the technicians that have been to my house, this is a common problem. I must say that when everything is working right, the HD picture quality is awesome but those of you considering Comcast HD Digital service should be prepared for this annoying problem.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Comcast HD issues
I have also been fighting with comcast about their HD issue. I also was told that everything is fine and that it is just my house. It will be a year in June since this has all began. Today I guess I got their final word and I quote "Either downgrade your service or deal with it" What a heck of a way to do business.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
comcast hd
I had the same issue with Comcast HD. The signal would break up. I felt like i was on the phone with them every 5th day to send a techy out. Finally a responsible technician who wanted to solve the problem for good measured the signal to the house and noticed that it was low. He had some people work on the line which only helped for a few days. Then he came out and installed an amplifier in the basement and not yet have i had an issue and it's been 2 months. I was seriously about to get rid of comcast....then again I'm trapped with them. I love the DVR, On-Demand etc. And I hear satelitte is a bizz-ach when the weather is bad. And i would have to buy tivo. So in the end i feel trapped. Wish the gov't would open up the lines like they did for the telecommunication industry. Rates would go down, and service would improve. Oh well, lobbying by the bigs works so i guess that's not going to change anytime soon.
Posted by lgran (2 comments )
Link Flag
Comcast HD signal problems
I've had Comcast HD service for more than a year now and the biggest problem I have is the picture breaking up due to intermittent signal interuption. The problem only affects the HD channels. Comcast has replaced my HD cable box at least 6 times. The problem typically goes away for a while but soon returns. According to the technicians that have been to my house, this is a common problem. I must say that when everything is working right, the HD picture quality is awesome but those of you considering Comcast HD Digital service should be prepared for this annoying problem.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Comcast HD issues
I have also been fighting with comcast about their HD issue. I also was told that everything is fine and that it is just my house. It will be a year in June since this has all began. Today I guess I got their final word and I quote "Either downgrade your service or deal with it" What a heck of a way to do business.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
comcast hd
I had the same issue with Comcast HD. The signal would break up. I felt like i was on the phone with them every 5th day to send a techy out. Finally a responsible technician who wanted to solve the problem for good measured the signal to the house and noticed that it was low. He had some people work on the line which only helped for a few days. Then he came out and installed an amplifier in the basement and not yet have i had an issue and it's been 2 months. I was seriously about to get rid of comcast....then again I'm trapped with them. I love the DVR, On-Demand etc. And I hear satelitte is a bizz-ach when the weather is bad. And i would have to buy tivo. So in the end i feel trapped. Wish the gov't would open up the lines like they did for the telecommunication industry. Rates would go down, and service would improve. Oh well, lobbying by the bigs works so i guess that's not going to change anytime soon.
Posted by lgran (2 comments )
Link Flag
Comcast stating 10 -15 HD channels are ENOUGH?????
give me a bullet ! of course I'm kidding about the bullet but hey I want every show in HD, yes it's true my 72 year old mother cannot tell the differance. I CAN however I have a local VHF on roof for local LA Direct TV ( URGGGGG) and I'm craving for more balancing the cost of cable, Dish Network and Voom ever other day.
Posted by Rickrack (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Balancing the cost?
So all you get is local channels? Which show about 6 hours a day of HDTV. But you have no Dish or cable service. That's like Buying a car with no gas stations around.
Posted by (13 comments )
Link Flag
Comcast stating 10 -15 HD channels are ENOUGH?????
give me a bullet ! of course I'm kidding about the bullet but hey I want every show in HD, yes it's true my 72 year old mother cannot tell the differance. I CAN however I have a local VHF on roof for local LA Direct TV ( URGGGGG) and I'm craving for more balancing the cost of cable, Dish Network and Voom ever other day.
Posted by Rickrack (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Balancing the cost?
So all you get is local channels? Which show about 6 hours a day of HDTV. But you have no Dish or cable service. That's like Buying a car with no gas stations around.
Posted by (13 comments )
Link Flag
This is untrue
HDigital Antennae's have a LONGER range, (some up to 40 miles) and DON'T require a line of site, as they can use bounced signals fine.
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is untrue
HDigital Antennae's have a LONGER range, (some up to 40 miles) and DON'T require a line of site, as they can use bounced signals fine.
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HD TV, Cable and Satellite Networks Channel Availability
The limited number HD channels available to Comcast and DirectTV subscribers is only about 15 to 20 channels. The author is right - cable companies are not moving quickly to offer more HD channels to its subscribers. My spouse and children would like to watch their favorite channels in HD. The color and clarity of the pictures on 50" HD set cannot be matched by a normal unit. When properly setup and adjusted an HD set will out shine any regular unit.
Posted by mavericknj (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HD TV, Cable and Satellite Networks Channel Availability
The limited number HD channels available to Comcast and DirectTV subscribers is only about 15 to 20 channels. The author is right - cable companies are not moving quickly to offer more HD channels to its subscribers. My spouse and children would like to watch their favorite channels in HD. The color and clarity of the pictures on 50" HD set cannot be matched by a normal unit. When properly setup and adjusted an HD set will out shine any regular unit.
Posted by mavericknj (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not true...
You're right about HD costing extra and that you need an HD set, an HD signal, and HD content.

But you have to understand its a chicken and the egg scenario. Until you have enough HD viewers, the cost of doing HD content isn't worth it.

Now having said that, there is more HD content out there....

But gettting back to the point...

You may have an HD TV, but at what level?

I've had a Sony Plasma monitor for about 4 years now. The newer generation of the same 42" monitor comes in two flavors. One has a slightly higher resolution.

You need to compare 480i to 1080i for picture quality. Also you need to compare composite video out to component video out. There are a lot of things that would effect your picture quality.

Even switching your dvd player from 720i to 720p shows a major difference.

In 10 years, everything, including comercials will be recorded in HD, and then downgraded to 480i until that is phased out.

They say the next great thing is 1080p, which is what they use to record the content. If Moore's law holds true, in 18 months, you could expect to see comerical/consumer (high end) sets that can handle 1080p. (Note: Some projection units are already shipping.)
Posted by dargon19888 (412 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Correction
It isn't crucially important but worth pointing out that DVD's have a maximum resolution of 480 x 720 where 480 is the vertical resolution and 720 is number of pixels across the screen. It is normally rendered at 480i meaning 480 interlaced lines. By a trick that can be configured to 480 progressive lines or 480p but not 720p which is a true HD format. You can upconvert to 720p but you don't have 720 lines of reslution in the picture that is stored on a DVD because of the way DVD video technical standards are specified.

There are two HD format optical disc standards that are vying for adoption. They are HD-DVD and BluRay. Both support the ATSC digital formats which include the HD formats. Neither is available commercially but there are a few titles already that are playable on PC's which include a standard DVD-video and another DVD that contains the computer file of the same content at a higher resolution. They use a codec from Microsoft that is being promoted for use in higher resolution applications and DRM that can sometimes be more than a little annoying. Confusing enough yet?

I'd also like to point out that there is a significant supply of true HD content available in essentially every large market in the US. Furthermore it doesn't involve any monthly subscription fee. That's right, it is free! But you have to put up an antenna and get a receiver capable of reception of the new ATSC signal. All your favorite programs on PBS, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, WB, and UPN can be viewed in glorious high definition for free. You don't need permission from a cable or satellite company to receive and display these programs. Because there is no lucrative after market your salesman at Best Buy is not trained to even realize this option is available.
Posted by Steve Bryan (92 comments )
Link Flag
 

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