11th Nov 2004

How long before hdtv and hdtv broadcasts catch on?

Turned off by high equipment costs, confused by the wide variety and types of television sets available and bewildered by the techno-speak, many people are tuning hdtv and hdtv broadcasts out of their minds. That’s too bad because the technology is revolutionary. With five times the resolution of normal television broadcasts, a wider field of view and theater-quality sound, high definition television is as good as it gets when it comes to televised entertainment in the comforts of one’s own home.

Fortunately, recent developments in hdtv and high definition broadcasting should entice more people to give this new technology a try. Firstly, the list of programs available is expanding dramatically, especially in relation to sporting events. This summer, NBC is planning to broadcast almost 400 hours of Olympics coverage in high definition, including the opening and closing ceremonies. In addition, football season will also herald a greater number of HD broadcasts. Also, many favorite cable shows like HBO’s The Sopranos are now broadcast in high definition on certain stations.

Why are sporting events a perfect showcase for hdtv? With high definition signals giving viewers greater detail than ever before, fans can finally see the grooves on a hockey ice surface, the dust particles kicked up by a baseball player rounding third base, and the beads of sweat dripping down a determined boxer’s face. Simply, it’s as close to being there in person without actually being there. Similarly, with high definition broadcasting in Dolby Digital audio, concerts and movies are never the same as before hdtv came along.

Secondly, the 1,600 television stations in the United States must switch to digital television broadcasting by the end of 2006 so long as 85 percent of the nation’s households are able to receive those signals. In addition, all new television sets will need to be capable of receiving digital transmissions by 2006 (whether in high definition, standard definition or enhanced definition).

Finally, prices for high definition televisions sets are dropping. Prices for hdtv’s have dropped 20% a year for the past 3 years as more and more manufacturing facilities in Asia increase production to meet the demand. As with all technology, economies of scale are only realized once products becomes popular enough to overcome the initial high startup production costs.

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