Playing with HDTV

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, November 22, 2005, 11:58 PM | comments: 18

I upgraded to the new version of Beyond TV because it supports HD. I got an over-the-air tuner too, the point being that I can at least record more than one thing at once (since the networks schedule like the two shows I want to watch at the same time).

Of course, I don't actually have an HD monitor, so I'm not really watching in HD unless I transfer the files to my desktop. I was disappointed that my NBC affiliate's signal is too weak to get with the little indoor antenna. I looked them up and they're only transmitting at 7kw, which is weak. I had a hard time at first getting good signal strength because I couldn't find a good piece of RG-6 with good connectors.

It's kind of neat to see that TV is finally starting to transition to HD in a more sincere fashion. There still isn't a ton of HD content, but the networks are at least doing their prime time stuff.


Gonch, November 23, 2005, 5:24 AM #

Heh, I though I was the only soul on Earth to watch HD programming on a standard TV! :)

We got the DVR box from comcast and it has HD decoding built in. I figured "What the hell" and flipped to one of the HD channels. I was surprised that it came in (I dunno why, I didn't expect it to)

I'm a weirdo that prefers watching things letterboxed so given the option I now flip to the HD station for any given show if available. Plus, even on a 4 year old 36" Toshiba, there is a very noticable difference in signal/picture quality so that's a little bonus too (more like watching a DVD vs TV)

I'm still not ready to go HD with the monitor. Prices will only continue downward while more and more programming will become's just not at the point where I'll bite quite yet.

Jeff, November 23, 2005, 5:36 AM #

Yeah, seven-year-old 32"ish Sony. Some stuff does look cleaner, but I think that has more to do with the quality of the transmission. I mean, my DirecTV channels are all digital, but they're also highly compressed compared to the over-the-air signals, or so I understand. If that's not the case, I still get a lot of compression artifacts on some DirecTV channels.

, November 23, 2005, 12:40 PM #

We seriously considered an HDTV a couple months ago when looking for a new TV stand for our 32" Toshiba, but even though the prices seemed great, we decided to wait a while. The toshiba is only 4 years old and although HD is coming around, we figured once it became more prominent, the prices of the Monitors will drop as well.

When we do bite the bullet, we plan to purchase a very nice console table that will hold the DVD's and the rest of the CD's that won't fit into our new rack (plus the TiVo, DVR box from Comcast, CD player, Tuner and DVD player). That is if we don't decide to install it above the fireplace.

CPLady, November 23, 2005, 12:41 PM #

ooops...forgot to log in.

, November 23, 2005, 1:30 PM #

Explain to me why HDTV is such a big deal? I can't see a single benefit aside from forcing a lot of people in the coming years to buy new equipment.

I'm doing just fine with my 13 year old 19 inch GE with thrift-store-found bent rabbit ears duct taped together. I can usually get 3 or 4 channels in ok. Besides, all I really use the damn thing for is watching the occasional pre-recorded library check-out (finally broke down and got a DVD player just because my VHS options were getting limited).

I just don't see why people are so excited about this stuff as if it is the second coming.

Onceler, November 23, 2005, 2:02 PM #

You not only need to appreciate the details brought out with HDTV but also have want or a need for it. If you are fine with watching cableless television on a 19" tv, you wont understand all the hub-bub over the HDTV revolution.

, November 23, 2005, 2:31 PM #

But how is a "want" created if I don't know why it is supposed to be such a big deal?

Did you sit around 15 years ago wanting this stuff? Something had to convince you.

And it is hardly a revolution! It is, afterall, just television. We aren't solving the energy crisis with this stuff (actually, probably adding to it).

CPLady, November 23, 2005, 7:00 PM #

Wants and needs are personal things and asking how a want is created is impossible to answer. It's not the same for everyone.

Note, though, just because you don't see the benefits, doesn't mean others won't appreciate the quality and clarity of HDTV. Even though I don't watch much TV, I do understand, just by going to my local Best Buy and looking and the picture quality of an HDTV versus my 32" Toshiba. There is a marked difference in clarity. Do I need one? Not at all. Do I want one? Someday.

Personally, I simply like the new flat screen monitors only because they are so space saving. But I'm not so fired up to run out and purchase one until the prices come down. It's not worth it to me to spend that kind of money for a TV I only watch maybe 10 hours a week....and that's only in the winter. During the summer my TV viewing drops dramatically.

As with everything else, new technology becomes popular, the prices drop and soon it's just as sensible to purchase the new technology as it is to purchase the older technology.

Onceler, November 23, 2005, 7:52 PM #

Actually, it is a revolution by definition (

"a changeover in use or preference especially in technology"

..and as for your "want," it is almost impossible fo you to have that "want" based on your current viewing equipment. For people that have steadily adopted newer technology, bigger televisions, Tivo (or other PVR's), newer methods of receiving their programs and data, etc., this is a logical step.

To me, it appears that television, and maybe more generally speaking, video, is not that important to you. Without an importance in video, there will be no "want" or even perceived value with HDTV.

Jeff, November 23, 2005, 8:50 PM #

I first saw HD in I think 1997 or 1998 at the office of the company that I bought most of my pro TV equipment from (when I had an annual budget of $100k). Why was I in awe? Because there was finally a format that looked better than film. As a movie junkie and someone who knew how to get the most out of NTSC, this was something amazing.

If that difference isn't clear to you, or you just don't care about it, then naturally you wouldn't want it. There is no problem in that. Hell, my parents still watch TV with the color turned up too far and too red.

One thing frequently overlooked is that most of these things can connect to your computer via the DVI output. Considering that cable, satellite and broadcast are only one form of transmission, and the Internet the emerging one, that's important too.

Gonch, November 23, 2005, 9:21 PM #

I really need a page over here. It's like CB, but with all the people I actually enjoy communicating with. ;)

I don't need HDTV, I want it. :)

And like Jeff said, now everything is going to be nice and digital. Standards are forming and total media convergence is just around the bend.

CPLady, November 24, 2005, 12:27 AM #

I like my husband's idea (and I think Jeff already does this?)...he wants to set up a PC with the HDTV monitor and internet access so we can download programs to CD and keep them if we wish.

Imagine, I can have a full year's worth of figure skating on CD! LOL!

, November 26, 2005, 1:15 PM #

I don't care that HDTV exists because if some people really think that watching a clearer picture of the Jerry Springer Show is so important then I won't be the one to stand in their way, but the problem is that it is being forced upon everybody. My perfectly functional TV will soon become a worthless piece of landfill clutter, along with millions of others. And there is a lot of other pollution involved -- lots of lead in a television set.

Since the government is endorsing this thing, they ought to implement some sort of recycling effort or toxic substance recovery program. Otherwise, I just don't see this "revolution" as a very wise use of limited resources.

And then if I want to watch TV again, I have buy something new. I don't see why they can't just use two types of signals. Use HDTV so technology fiends can have their little orgasm and then have "plain old TV" so millions of others can check the weather for Christmas travel.

Jeff, November 27, 2005, 4:49 AM #

Down-converting tuners (assuming you actually view over-the-air signals) will cost $25. I wouldn't stress over it. Otherwise, your cable box or satellite tuner will already have an "old" composite output.

Gonch, November 27, 2005, 6:29 AM #

Otherwise, your cable box or satellite tuner will already have an "old" composite output.

And this is the part that people just don't seem to get.

The actual number of people truly affected in any way by the switch will be the few who use an antenna of some type.

Anyone with cable, satellite or TV delivered by whatever service already has the necessary equipment.

Also understand that the switch is to digital delivery of the signal. That does not equate to HDTV. I know with Comcast anything beyond the basic channels is already a digital signal being down-converted to my analog set.

The only thing that's going to change for someone like me on April 7, 2009 is that those basic channels will probably have a better picture. Other than that, I (and the millions of other cable and satellite users) won't notice (nor have to purchase) a thing.

On top of this the government is proposing to spend as much as $3 billion dollars to subsidize the cost for those who might be affected so that "plain old TV" people can still have their little orgasm at no (or next to no) cost and continue to use their outdated equipment.

See, we all win. :)

, November 28, 2005, 2:49 PM #

Why is something that still works and serves the same function as the "new equipment" considered outdated? New does not equal better. Actually, this all sounds like "same old crap in a fancier package." I am starting to appreciate the Amish more and more. They don't consider themselves "outdated." I walk to work. Is that outdated?

And I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the government spending 3 billion dollars on this when the money could be used for much better things. What kind of a screwy world is it when TV watching has to be subsidized?

Jeff, November 28, 2005, 3:51 PM #

You're looking at things in one dimension. If you would've been happy to keep black and white TV when color came out, then you're in the same boat now. You don't have to buy anything new. Having worked with HD, there's no question it's better, and I'm glad the feds have encouraged the transition.

That said, one of the bigger reasons for government involvement is to make better use of the spectrum currently used for TV. There is a finite amount of spectrum available for any kind of radio frequency communication. By reallocating spectrum, it opens up more frequencies for virtually everything from safety services to wireless broadband to cell phones. That stimulates the economy in so many ways that any money spent by the feds is a drop in the bucket. (And it's a drop in the bucket, a day of operations, anyway when you consider how much this ridiculous war is costing every day.)

Gonch, November 29, 2005, 6:49 AM #

The $3 billion is nothing considering it will be compensated for by the $10 billion they're expected to generate by selling off all the newly opened spectrum.

When it's all said and done, no one had to buy anything, the government comes out $7 billion in the black and there are endless opportunities for the newly opened airwaves.

It's win/win/win.

-"Why is something that still works and serves the same function as the "new equipment" considered outdated?"-

I dunno. The definition of 'outdated' as an adjective is - old; no longer in use or valid or fashionable

I'd say all three generally apply to a 13 year old 19 inch TV with rabbit ears attached. Especially come April 7, 2009 ;)

-"I walk to work. Is that outdated?"-

Of course not. In fact, depending on your situation it may even be more convenient and productive than driving. However, if it's 15 miles from home to work in a rural setting, then the idea is totally outdated, absurd and a little silly.

I can't fault your approach no matter how silly it may seem to me. It works for you and that's all you want. In the end though, you can rest assured that your 19 inch TV and rabbit ears will still work just fine when the switch happens.

HDTV will work fine for me and is what I want.

See it's still win/win. :)

Speaking of which, do any of you know of a HDTV that doesn't have speakers? That's something I always thought would sell well. I mean, a home theatre audio setup has been a valid, affordable option for almost 15 years now and with so many people running a home theatre setup, the monitor speakers seem so worthless. They could cut a few bucks off the price tag and a few inches from the size and probably sell a ton. The last time I listened to the speakers stuck in whichever big TV we were using in the living room was 1996. I think it'd look really nice (especially with the new HD sets) to not have that extra on the bottom or sides.

Maybe it's just me?

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