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. Mark says:

    Ifn I put more tin foil on them antannny, can I get a gooder pitcher?

  2. ECA says:

    For those4 NOT in the know…there IS more then 1 HDMI format…
    1-2 and THEN comes the Copy protection… MOSt units are NOT coming with the coptprotection, AND many in the last few years, WERENT HDMI 2 updated.

  3. Lauren the Ghoti says:

    Whazzat you say? You’re tellin’ me I spent all this dough on a Big Screen TV and then I still gotta do a buncha technical junk ‘n stuff to it so’s it’ll work? Why can’t I just take it outta the box and plug it in? How come it don’t know what I wanna watch? Why can’t they make it simpler, huh? Everything from computers to nuculer reacters should just have a big ol’ red button on the front, and when you push it, it does what it’s supposta do. Them guys what invented this stuff are pretty dumb if they can’t make it so people like me can just use it ‘n not hafta learn none ‘o that geek stuff!


    #27 – stew:
    It isn’t done, and here’s why: When TVs, any TVs are tested before shipping, they’re adjusted to what we in the industry often refer to as ‘flame mode’ – everything is goosed. They do it for a simple reason; when the dealer unpacks a set and puts it out for demo display, the last thing in the world they want is an accurate picture, since Ma & Pa Sixpack wouldn’t look twice at an accurate picture – it’s got to be as lurid as possible in an attempt to catch the average, ignorant consumer’s eye. No different from how mid-fi equipment inevitably has the bass and treble controls cranked up in a store display – if the salesmen don’t turn ’em to 10, the browsing public certainly will. Or, if there’s an equalizer, the sliders will be moved to the ‘smiley face’ configuration.

    I can’t really agree that there are more discerning TV buyers these days than there were audio- & videophiles previously – I think we just have more fools with sufficient scratch. In future years I look forward to visiting people with expensive HT setups and being subjected to hideously oversaturated picture and tizz-boom sound, accompanied by “Ain’t that a great picture, huh? Bet you never seen anything like it, have ya?” And I’ll be able to say truthfully, “No. No, I haven’t.”

  4. Deinonych says:


    It doesn’t matter what you consider to be HD resolution – the fact remains that the industry defines an HD signal resolution as either 1280×720 (720p) or 1920×1080 (1080i/1080p). The native resolution for both Blu-ray and HD-DVD is 1080p, hence the need for them to downscale to 720p. It makes for better picture quality to downscale from a higher resolution than vice versa.

    I do understand the gist of your point (that most people don’t know any better). However, blindly stating that 720p isn’t HD just because you say it isn’t, doesn’t make it so. The industry set the standards for HD resolutions long before Blu-ray and HD-DVD came to market.

  5. raconteur says:

    Spend 10 minutes talking to a sales person at Sears, Best Buy, Walmart
    or any other High End Big Box retailer and you too will be become an expert on TV reception. Can you really doubt the accuracy of the info given to you by a well trained associate with his/her name on their shirt?

    How do you intelligently process bullshit?

  6. gquaglia says:

    #34 Thank You

  7. Mr. Fusion says:

    #24, & 25,

    STOP STOP !!! You’re both right.

    FOX, some tech writers, and many sales people say 720 is High Definition.
    People who know better say 1080 and above is HD.

    Then we have interlaced and progressive. And you can hook it up any of 10 different ways. And the sound can be through your sound system in mono, stereo, 5.1, surround sound, …

    I have remotes for the TV, VCR, DVD, and Sound System. (Actually, I lost the Sound System remote, I do it by hand) How many more remotes and garbage will I need.

    BUT, as Brian stated in #9,
    Why are Americans ignorant about technology?
    Because as a whole, they just don’t care, and they sure as hell don’t want to pay for it.

    There are no ‘bugs’ to be worked out of HDTV – some of us are willing to pay more for the best, others are happy with their crappy 25″ CRT.
    After the bugs are worked out, we can decide if SN or gq are right.

    And I’ll wait until the smokes settles and a standard comes about. And the price drops to something more reasonable. To me, content is more important then picture quality. If it ain’t worth watching, I ain’t gunna watch it !!!

  8. someguy says:

    no TV since 2000

  9. Tom says:

    I work in the professional Television show production field as a HDTV Engineer.
    I can tell you simply that most people CAN NOT tell the difference between 1080P television and 720P television. Period. One of the many reasons is that, aside from one or two video game consoles, there is no 1080P program material to watch. PBS, NBC and CBS broadcast 1080I and ABC and Fox broadcast 720P. None of the current HD DVD players support 1080P yet either. Plus, since 720P compresses much more efficently than 1080I, much of what you see over the air actually looks better in 720P due to greatly reduced compression artifacts. Lastly, most people sit too far from a set to see the difference in resolution between 720 and 1080. You need to be no more than three picture heights from the screen to be able to tell 1080 from 720, the eye simply can not resolve differences that small further away than that. When I am at work, I use a Sony $45,000 32″ professional CRT monitor and I sit about 2 to 3 feet from it….

  10. Tom 2 says:

    There is only one thing I know about hd, it costs to much.

  11. aaron aardvarka says:

    Face it, most of the confusion about DTV is driven by the vested interests of the cable/satellite industry in consumers staying confused. They want people to think that “digital cable/satellite” is synonymous with HDTV. And they definitely don’t want you to know how good digital OTA is compared to the old analog TV most people are used to. If the truth came out people would be canceling their cable/satellite subscriptions in droves.

  12. gquaglia says:

    And they definitely don’t want you to know how good digital OTA is compared to the old analog TV most people are used to. If the truth came out people would be canceling their cable/satellite subscriptions in droves.

    Yes and no. If all you watch is network tv then OTA HDTV will be great. But last time I checked you couldn’t get the History, Discovery or HBO OTA.

  13. Mark says:

    “I have remotes for the TV, VCR, DVD, and Sound System. (Actually, I lost the Sound System remote, I do it by hand) How many more remotes and garbage will I need.”

    Yeah, It is getting ridiculous. I have 5 remotes. Once in a while, I go on vacation and try to teach the housesitter how to watch the TV. I dumb it down as much as possible, hide the remotes, tell her to leave the set on, and just show her how to change channels and volume. Forget about watching a DVD, we aint going there.

  14. Floyd says:

    40, 41: You’re right. HDTV costs too much, and the tech is immature. I avoid the scummy Circuit City salespeople at all costs, preferring to deal with the less slick people at Best Buy or even WalMart or Target.

    I am a technical guy–the computer kind. I’m not scared of technology, but I really don’t need to know a new set of acronyms just to get a new TV technology working, so my wife can watch her movies and favorite shows.

    We have a regular NTSC TV (a 4 year old, 19 inch Trinitron) that displays a better picture than the 25 inch TV it replaced. No need to replace it right now. We now have the cables routed correctly to get our TV, cable box, “regular” DVD/VCR, and stereo to all talk together.

    I’ll buy an HDTV when:

    Its price drops to what NTSC TVs cost now.

    The tech wars have simmered down enough that the weak sisters in display technology have gone away and what’s left is what really works.

    The cable (or dish) guy can hook it and its (presumably new) cable box up in less than 30 minutes, and I don’t lose the “regular” channels when I get the HD channels.

    The HDTV resolution has been standardized.


    The picture isn’t destroyed when a grandbaby decides to teethe on the remote control, or my wife/daughter/son asks “What’s this button do?” and presses that button (and forgets which one was pressed).

  15. ECA says:

    The problems come with 2 year old sets, and SALES persons wanting us confused.
    Go 1 place and they tell you THIS, go to the next, and they tell you THAT.

    I took 2 friends to the store and SHOWED them what to look for..They looked around at ALL the sets, and LAUGHED at what they found.

    Iv also told them about about HOW to SEE, if they can setup 3.1,5.1 or 7.1 sound…And what was needed.
    Its NOT that its hard…Its just ALOT of BS is floating around, and sales PEOPLE dont know anything, unless THEY are the geek.
    I HATE upsales…

  16. Olo Baggins of Bywater says:

    Most of the salient points have been made, but let’s collect them.

    A year or so ago I had to write a chapter for a textbook on this very subject, and it took me a full week of research to get a full grasp of the variations. (I have plenty of relevant AV industry background, too) Coax, modulated, video, composite, fiber, DVI, HDMI… it’s way too much. Then you have sources…OTA, DVD, cable, satellite, TiVo. And they’re all different and each has a different setup. Then you have DRM, which screws up everything, making all the VCRs obsolete just for fun. None of the products are consistent, and some of their manuals are flat out wrong, or missing key info.

    Additionally, none of the sales people have a clue. Until very recently, none of the sales staff in this town knew that DTV was readily available here OTA from three TV markets, like John we have some 20 available DTV channels. Until that sales problem is fixed nothing else can be done to make the situation better. But even still, when friends and relatives ask me about it I have to ask them 20 questions before I can tell them anything…what do you watch…cable or sat…any Tivo….how about audio….budget….and the kicker: can you program your VCR or microwave now?

    As for what we need, do I really need to see the pimples on an actor’s face? Do I need to see the pitchers drooling their chew? My really old gen 1 Dish receiver works great when the source claims to be HD (espn for example) and the picture on my 1997 Sony tube looks better than ever. Upgrade? Why???? I just tweaked my OTA system, and the picture is now excellent.

    A kick up a notch from NTSC would be great, but the price–both money and complexity–is still far too high for the vast majority of consumers, and too high even for many folks like us. I don’t see that changing anytime soon, and it has zip to do with the stereotypical ‘ignorant’ consumer.

  17. Tom 2 says:

    Does hdtv make the people on it look fat, this maybe a stupid question but CNN thinks so.

    see http://tinyurl.com/y5lf9y

    Is there any truth to this, I’d like someones opinion.

  18. 2xbob says:

    I will learn all about HD when they give me a reason. TV is garbage to me for the most part. Lets review from the POV of a science person:

    Discovery: Not much left here
    TLC: Great… If I was looking for home remodeling ideas as reality TV
    History: Mostly intact but a lot more aliens and pseudo science now
    Health: OH GOD MY EYES, lots of birthing, too much too often

    And that rounds it off. I don’t care for flavor-of-the-month sitcoms nor who did what on Lost/American Idol and lost TechTV when it was annihilated by G4. If you enjoy any of the tings mentioned and are the proud but bewildered owners of an HDTV, take the time to do the research before the purchase and the necessary steps after the purchase.

  19. doug says:

    tell you what, American Idol may still be stupid in HD, but Apollo 13, which I just finished watching, looks damn good off an HDDVD.

    the ‘HDTV is still a vast wasteland’ crowd should keep in mind you don’t have to watch what the networks shovel at you. even an upscaled SD DVD can be amazing on an HD set…

  20. BillBC says:

    27 is right. I don’t mind tweaking and fiddling endlessly w my computer, but I won’t do it with a TV, anymore than I will with a refrigerator. A TV is an appliance. Every so often I think I should educate myself about HD and all the stuff that you are talking about here…but what for? So I can watch Entertainment Tonight in High Definition on a big screen? Nuts to that. When the industry makes it simple, I’ll pay some attention…

  21. Tom 2 says:

    #51 Well Said.

  22. SN says:

    #34 “The industry set the standards for HD resolutions long before Blu-ray and HD-DVD came to market.”

    Oh, so 720p is really HD solely because the industry says so. That’s your entire argument?!

    So, if Coke says that its product “adds life” it also must be true? And if McDonald’s corporation says that they “do it all for you,” well, that also must be true? And if the diamond cartel says that you must spend two months salary on your wife’s wedding ring, that also must be true? Right? Certainly, an industry would never lie to sell an inferior product?!

    God, what planet do you live on?!

    I’ll admit, that the industry can call 720p “real” HD just as Coke can claim that its soda adds life. But that doesn’t make it true.

    The truth is that you cannot watch either a Blu-Ray or an HD-DVD on a 720p in each player’s native resolution.

    Now in the broadcast realm, 720p makes sense because it allows broadcasters to multicast content, i.e., play two shows at the same time. I’m certainly not saying that 720p is worthless. I’m only saying it’s not true HD.

    You can believe it is. Heck, you can believe that soda increases your life span. It’s your right to be delusional.

  23. GregA says:


    Other than the three titles released on HD-DVD and Blue Ray, is there any 1080p content at all? I guess there are a few movie trailers on the apple website…. But anything broadcast?

    Oh, and also, by definition, the industry groups define the standard and if they say 720p is High Definition TM, then it is. The marketing speak for 1080p is “The Full High Definition Experience” TM.

    However all of that is irrelevant for two reasons. First is screen size. If you are sitting more than about 3 feet away from your 50″ TV, you cant tell the difference between 720p and 1080p, and if you are sitting closer than that, you cant really see the whole screen… 1080p is for projection systems, with 100″ or more screens.

    The other issue is HDTV is DOA. Sales are not driving HDTV adoption. It is the analog drop dead date in 2009. People are buying HDTV’s because the manufacturers no longer sell the old analog variety. The contention that people don’t understand HDTV because they are stupid or delusional, is in fact stupid and delusional. People don’t understand HDTV because they don’t care.

  24. ECA says:

    48, It can happen if the Pic is SD…Pixels on SD are rectangular,,Pics on HD are Square…IF you PULL the SD video to FIT HD..You pull from the sides, and everyone Gets FAT.

    IF they would do me 1 favor…DUMP the Copyrights, and digital protections, they could save ALOT of money. 90% of what is spent on Digital is spent on Protections.

    I can see it now…a 300+ gig TiVO…
    HDDVD/bluray, and no way to copy it. NOTHING big enough to copy it TO. They want these formats ONLy to protect the programming.
    1 DVD movie?? MAX 4gig, and no specials.
    1 HDDVD/BR…19-25 gigs?? WHY??

    Math time..
    320×200-600×400 video signal converted UP to 1900×1080..
    At a 3 times in both directions..600×400=1800×1200…which is pretty close. Even at 5 times the SD low res…1600×1000…

    3 DVDs are cheaper then 1HD/BR disk.. the rest is going to be Extras, and security.
    there isnt much in Extras I watch, unless its a VERY good money and I like the actors.

  25. ECA says:

    yes, and someone had a good point…
    How do I hook up..
    TiVo / DVR,
    VHS?? yes its still around, and most of us have many tapes.
    Cable/SAT box
    Computer wireless input..

    DVI, Component, HDMI, Svideo??
    And 1 HELL of a switching box…Buy them NOW before someone Figures this out…

  26. gquaglia says:

    So, if Coke says that its product “adds life” it also must be true?

    Only if SN says it is so.

    I’m certainly not saying that 720p is worthless. I’m only saying it’s not true HD

    You are truly an ass, by your definition, the industries definition of HD is wrong, but your definition is correct because you say so. Just admit you were wrong and be done with it.

  27. curmudgen says:

    and all the other video consoles

    DVD/CD recorder

    I’m tired. I quit!

  28. Deinonych says:


    “Oh, so 720p is really HD solely because the industry says so. That’s your entire argument?!”

    Yes, it is. The ITU-R (International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector) sets the standards. This isn’t marketing hype, it’s a standard just like NTSC and PAL. I’m sorry you are having difficulty accepting this, but it is a fact.

  29. GregA says:


    Actually, you have no clue what you are talking about. 1080i and 1080p are substantially different standards.

    And my original point remains true, there are currently no sources of 1080p signals… Other than HD-DVD and Blueray.

    Also, I have to chuckle at the irony that you are ignorant of the particulars of HDTV on this thread:P

  30. tallwookie says:

    #27 && #51 – what century were you born in? all devices need to be modified, if only once every so often.

    This isnt you father’s model t ford


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