While the 1080 format of HDTV has basically been adopted world-wide (even though ABC in America and home camcorder maker JVC are both using the 720p format, which can be seen on all 1080 HDTV sets, plus several other standards already exist in Europe for HDTV including the British wide screen PAL format) the U.S. is still leading the pack with all major networks and stations broadcasting most of their prime-time shows in HD while Europe only has one HD station.
It is expected that with the introduction of HD DVD and Blu Ray by next year that sales will perk up in both the U.S. and Europe, especially since Germany is planning to start HD broadcasts in the near future.
Another factor that might help would be if consumer electronics of HD camcorders and HD DVD camcorders drops below the $1,000, which probably won"t occur until 2007.
Also to be factored in will be digital TV (DTV) which is now starting in the U.S. and is due to take over sometime between 2010 and 2014 totally replacing analog broadcasts of “commercial” television. Many of the HDTV sets now being sold are DTV ready and all sets in the near future will be DTV capable, some may be HDTV capable or you can at least buy a tuner to get the HDTV signals.
To get true HDTV, however, requires a bigger picture tube with 6 million dots forming 2 million pixels. Many of the digital TV sets that will be sold have the standard analog configuration of 333,333 pixels formed from 1 million dots, so there is less detail in the picture. Most DTV sets will also sport the 604 x 480 format of pixel matrix, while true HDTV sports a 1920 x 1080 format of pixels for wide screen images like you get in movie theaters (“letter box”).
Even with all the drawbacks of small format, DTV sets can deliver 500 to 600 lines of picture image which is twice what a conventional TV delivers, although HDTV delivers almost five times that same image quality.
When push comes to shove, however, buys a DTV set for $300 that will give you a picture level better than current DVD technology is still more attractive than paying closer to $1,000 for a wide screen HDTV set. The consumer can spend that savings on a new DVD player with High Definition capabilities and still have enough cash left over for a nice vacation at Disney World!
HDTV is still an elitist tech toy. Back when computers were $4,000 few households had them. When the internet was $10 for 5 hours of time few households were on-line. Now that you can buy a “box” for $400 ready to go and unlimited broadband is only $30 a month the information highway is overly crowded and almost as many people have computers as own TV sets!
Once flat panel, 6 million dot HDTV sets get down to $300 consumers will start snapping them up and this won"t be for another year at least!
It should be noted that most CRT based computers still use only the 1 million dot screens, as do many of the LCD flat screens.
Small screen HDTV seems somewhat impractical. It"s hard to say if a 24” screen with 6 million dots will actually deliver a crisp image. The idea behind HDTV is friends and family viewing, which plays more to the 36” and above sets.
HDTV seems to be doing better than color did in the early 1960"s, largely because the cost gap is changing must faster. Back in 1965 a big screen black and white TV set cost $150 while a color set was well over $400. Right now a good DTV set costs $300 and a low end HDTV costs around $500 at discount stores.
Many consumers are still confused over HDTV and think of it only in terms of big, wide screen. Many of those same consumers have become quite savvy over digital cameras and so if we equate regular TV at being less than a megapixel made up of 60 dots per inch (DPI) to digital TV (DTV) as also being under 1 megapixel but being made up of 100 DPI and HDTV as being two megapixels made up of 300 DPI we put the picture into a better perspective.
HDTV Above 1920 x 1080
Above left Digital TV – Right current analog TV 640 x 400
They would be this size in an HDTV set until you expand them to full screen.
Close ups of approximate quality L-R: HDTV, DTV, Analog TV as blown up for HDTV screen.
If you stand back about 10 feet from you computer you'll see how your "brain" fuses the images and they begin to all look quite nice. But up close you will see the difference. These are not actual TV images but an approximation.
As the price keeps dropping and with the coming of DTV consumers are soon going to be faced with a decision to make and HDTV, if the price is right, may end up being the winner by the year 2010.