EngadgetHD – Dec 10th 2006:

After several years of this “HD thing” being around, we’d assume that the general public would begin to catch on and understand the completely unnecessary, yet very prevalent confusions that simply come with owning and operating an HDTV. Apparently there’s still a vast majority of potential HDTV buyers and current owners that are still miffed when it comes to fully understanding how to setup, tweak, operate, and enjoy their new set.

Research posted in USA Today states that while “about 15-percent” of American homes have an HD-capable television, less than half of them said that their purchase was influenced by wanting to catch their favorite shows in high definition. While we’ve certainly seen reports showing that we Americans can’t get enough once we get a taste, it appears that a staggering amount of owners either don’t know how to correctly receive HD content, or simply believe that “digital cable” equates to “high definition.” Surveyors attribute the “confusing nature” of actually getting HD content into your home as the primary culprit, as cable and satellite companies don’t exactly go the extra mile to clarify the technological mumbo jumbo while siphoning your cash.

EngadgetHD – Dec 30th 2006:

While it’s no surprise that the mystery surround HDTV is further complicated by glossy marketing and a lack of technical support all around, a recent report claims that “about 19.5 million consumers” who purchased an HDTV over the holiday break are now complaining about the quality. Apparently, the “plug and play” approach that has become quite common on today’s electronics didn’t work out so well with HDTVs, leaving customers baffled that their TV wouldn’t magically display the clean, crisp imagery they viewed on the in-store displays when making their purchase. Customers are still having a difficult time understanding that special programming packages, set-top boxes, and / or OTA antennas are required to receive HD content, taking the wind out of their presumably puffed sails.

What I think is funny are all those morons who think their new 720p TVs are really High Definition merely because they’re wide-screen. Yeah right, and my two-wheel drive Saturn Vue is really a four-wheel drive merely because it has four wheels!

But what’s really funny is that people have no idea that they can get true HD (not that over-compressed pixelated crap from cable and satellite) completely for free right off the air! John wrote about this in one of his PC Magazine columns:

As an aside, I’m amused by the HDTV scene. I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area and get perhaps 20 stations over the air with a UHF antenna in full HD, with Dolby. Yet somehow most Americans have forgotten how to use an antenna—the cable companies have sucked out their brains—and few realize that OTA (over the air) HD is fantastic.

  1. George of the city says:

    Tailwookie that is the problem not the solution. I have moved back to my fathers Ford namely over the air. mainly for local stuff. No cable for three years. You can catch any thing on the internet. I predict more people will go this way in the future. All that is new is not good. I am running a 42″ display off my media center computer. love it.

  2. SN says:

    #57. “Just admit you were wrong and be done with it.”

    Oh, so you’re not going to shut up. I’ve explained my position again and again and you’ve yet to refute anything I’ve said. I’ll leave you with this question:

    You own a 1080p capable TV and a Blu-Ray/HD-DVD drive. You go to buy your favorite movie. The store has a 1080p version and a 720p version. They are the same price. Which one do you buy?

    Yeah, I thought so. You buy the one that is truly HD, of course. Not the one that’s only HD because some marketing lackey said it was.

  3. Brian says:


    Your continued ignorance on this topic is mindblowing. You continue to insist that 1080p is the ONLY HD format – which couldn’t be further from the truth. 1080p is not the only ‘true’ HD format.

    High Definition is defined by the ITU-R (the body responsible for publishing said standards) as 1080p, 1080i, or 720p. I am sure you are trying to compensate for spending gobs of money on a 1080p set, and I am sure it looks good, but you are simply WRONG on this.

    Good lord you make this too easy.

  4. noname says:

    All these arguments are really worthless.

    The test of anything in a Capitalist Market society is what the consumer buys. The boundries driving the rational consumer to buy HDTV, are
    1.) analog drop dead date in 2009
    2.) Cost/Benefit

    The boundaries that will drive the irrational consumer to buy HDTV
    1.) Keeping up with the Jones,
    1.a) Being the “Cool kid on block”
    1.b) What the latest technological fashion
    2.) What does the sales person say
    3.) What does the magazines and industry say
    3.a) Gee Coke does add life, like #53 disbelieves

    As for the benefit, I happen to agree with #49 there really isn’t much on TV and can totally relate to #38, doesn’t even watch the crap. And, #53 makes good sense to me.

    So for this consumer/customer, HDTV ain’t worth the upgrade. The eventual driver for me to buy is if my current 19 Trinitron dies.

    Since the customer is always right (at least used to be in days gone by), no one is wrong. So way all this bogus and manufactured fuss??????

  5. Greg Allen says:

    As a person trained in marketing, I can’t totally blame the consumer for this… when the confusion rates are this high, somebody wasn’t doing their job.

  6. sh says:

    I mounted an antenna in my attic (a radio shack 80 inch model $60)
    I was amazed by the HD I received. I have since upgraded my dish
    network to HD with their DVR. I like it!

  7. Olo Baggins of Bywater says:

    I’m only saying it’s not true HD.

    This is like true Gods, or true operating systems…it’s a meaningless distinction, IOW a perfect marketing catch-phrase.

    High def is defined (by everyone in the tech world) as more than NTSC, and it has been defined that way since it was first proposed many years ago. 1080p might be higher def than 720, but they’re both high.

    No marketing arm of a blu-ray or hd-dvd company can change that. 🙂

  8. Tippis says:

    Ugh…. I don’t see the problem some have with these definitions. 720p and 1080i are HD formats, because the standard says they are, and in terms of “definition,” the two are very similar (they have nearly the same pixel count per time and the choice is really down to movement or resolution fidelity). However, they are primarily broadcast formats, because they fit into the govenmental bandwidth alotment, unlike full-blown 1080p.

    1080p, on the other hand, is primarily a “fixed-media” HD format, meant for delivery through HD-DVD/Blueray, hard-disk playback, and whathaveyou.

    That said, I interpreted the original “What I think is funny are all those morons who think their new 720p TVs are really High Definition merely because they’re wide-screen” comment as consumers assuming their TVs were HD because of the wide-screen, not because of the resolution. In other words, the TVs are HD, but the consumers don’t understand why.

  9. gquaglia says:

    That said, I interpreted the original “What I think is funny are all those morons who think their new 720p TVs are really High Definition merely because they’re wide-screen” comment as consumers assuming their TVs were HD because of the wide-screen, not because of the resolution. In other words, the TVs are HD, but the consumers don’t understand why.

    You could, expect for SN’s numerous replies following claiming that only 1080 is HD and and that 720p is really some salesman trick to get you to buy HD. No matter that the industry and just about every other person in the know says that 720p is indeed HD, SN knows better and you are an idiot if you don’t agree with him.

  10. Jeffrey Stephen says:

    My problem with Over The Air is to get it I need an outside antenna.
    The problem with that is the city I live in and many others have bylaws against them (I’ll bet the Cable companies lobbied hard for that bylaw).

  11. Roc Rizzo says:

    This doesn’t surprise me, as many people still have a flashing 12:00 on their VCRs

  12. Mr. Fusion says:

    Yesterday I worked on my neighbor’s computer. It turned out his video card had tanked, and fortunately I had an old one kicking around. This guy doesn’t know much about computers, he’s an accountant and will do my taxes this year. (I also did some photography of his son playing football) So while I know enough to figure out his video card is history, he knows enough to wade through all that tax code and have my tax form the best it can be.

    So what does this have to do with HD TV? Simple lesson people. Not everyone is an expert in everything that comes along. And that does not make any of us morons. It simply means that we need to rely on others more knowledgeable then us. If the purveyors of that knowledge can’t get it straight, how the heck should us peons know?

  13. Colin Nowra says:

    720p = HD Just under 1 Megapixel (921,600/

    1080p = Full HD Just over 2 Megapixels (2,073,600)

    Both HD

  14. Smartalix says:

    The biggest problem is that the industry is schizophrenic about the entire issue. Industry factions, often within the same company, have different goals and timetables.

    The standard resolution crowd still wants to sell out inventories of VCRs, DVDs, Set-top boxes, and peripherals that will be useless once everyone finally moves to HD, the content providers want to muddle definitions as much as possible so they can sell feeds at various resolutions and price points, and a lot of display manufacturers want to continue selling 720p sets because it’s hard to do 1080p in Plasma.

  15. Mister Mustard says:

    Maybe I could get more excited about this whole thing if every eveningI didn’t look at the TV istings an see all-night back-to-back CIS Miami alkathons and and entire evening of “flip this house” or “pimp my ride” We have about 1092340923409823 options, may of which are he same thing, and the rest are lame-o new shows I wouldn’t watch if I were in a jail cell. So I realy want to go out and spend $5000 on a giant plasma screen TV thats’s goign to show repeats of the same old crap I lve been watching in lo-def for the past five years, except the characters are al squatty and disctorted when not in HD format? I think I’ll wait until next year. Pffft.

  16. Mister Mister says:

    Mmmmm HD-lite from D* and almost any cable…. OTA!! OTA!! Said no to HD on Sat or Cable!

  17. ECA says:

    What will need to be done,
    Is a daisy chain system, with interconnects…such as USB and SCSI…
    Its either that, or we are ALL going to be buying Switching boxes…
    Between the
    game consoles,
    VHS, which probably WONT record HD.
    Vidoe inputs for Camers, Digital video cam, and security cameras..
    Wirelss computer connection,
    DVD, HD, BR….
    Its really going to be HELL hooking things up.

  18. Tippis says:

    Seeing the difference between 1080p and 1080i is as simple as watching fast-movement footage. With good deinterlacing, it 1080i becomes stuttery; without it, it becomes blurred. Afaik, most major sportscaster have gone 720p for that very reason: 1080i simply can’t handle the movement.

    Of course, the irony of all of this is that the content that is generally considered the selling-point of 1080p (movies) are the result of 3:2 pulldown from a 24fps source, so the totality of information provided is actually less than both 720p and 1080i. Until we have workflows that begin with a 4k+/60fps source which is then downconverted to the different distribution formats (including film), we’ll never get “true HD” anywhere. Of course, until then, there’s something to be said about having crisp and clean motion blur… 😉

  19. ECA says:

    YOU are getting it…great…
    But do you know what a 60hz signal is in FPS??
    60 frames per second.
    ranging up from 24-30, wont be easy.
    Even in interlace, at 30mhz=30 fps…and they went to 20-24 LONG ago to save money…ALOT of money.

  20. James Hill says:

    This thread sure did go to hell. Hopefully we can have an HDTV discussion again in the near future without all the bullshit.

  21. ECA says:

    And what is OFF…
    We have alot of good points. And lots of knowledge.

  22. jbellies says:

    I am reminded of a time when a 250K 8″ floppy disk was called “High Density”. Well, of course we had to read the labels very carefully every time we bought floppies and diskettes. DS DD HD even Quad Density. If the various flavours of HD are identified by numbers and letters 480p, 720p 1080i 1080p, I’d say that’s a small improvement over 1980 (the year, not the density). It’s not nearly as bad as the kerfuffle with USB2, where all the important info is in small print.

    I’m happy with our old analogue setup. Here in Canada there is no etched in stone date for changeover to digital, so I suppose technophilia will cause me to change over before force majeure does. I still have a Beta VCR, but it isn’t connected to anything (it *was*, three years ago). Rubber deteriorates so the transport mechanisms get sloppy, that’s the reason it’s not connected.

  23. hdtv geek says:

    “most Americans have forgotten how to use an antenna”

    Being someone who is running the HDTV antenna labs website, I have a pretty good perspective of this. Although many Americans are not aware of how over-the-air HDTV is great, the situation is changing drastically. Cable and satellite companies simply can not compete with the quality due to severe bandwidth limitations. They have to use high video compression ratios just to compress a HD signal enough to fit in the available frequency slot. Their bandwidth cost money, the UHF and VHF broadcasts bandwidth is free. That’s it.
    People are starting to understand that free and good quality is better than expensive and bad quality. I follow the visitors of my website and clearly see the trend.

  24. Bob Boeri says:

    I am one of DC’s early adopters of OTA HDTV (and an antenna rotator), and reception for some channels is spotty (PBS). I’m sure hoping that lack of adoption doesn’t kill OTA HDTV — partly because of my investment, partly beause I don’t want to pay Cable for what I can get for free — and it is truly eye-popping for all except PBS at this time.

    I believe that broadcast stations will have to broadcast digitally at the same power they used to broadcast analog, which means things will get better in late 2008. True?

  25. joe says:

    HDTV’S are crap the image is shotty and even systems like the 360 look like crap on them i agree im americann and people are getting stupider and im getting pist!!!


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