Jan 282004
 
Authors: Liz Kerrigan

The first thing you notice is how crisp and vibrant the white

and pale blue jerseys are as the players aggressively pass the

ball. Every wince, jerk and grab is a visual experience. The

constant sound of new rubber soles skidding on the freshly polished

court is music to the ears. Suddenly No. 22 is so close that the

individual beads of sweat can be seen slowly dropping from his

forehead, down his cheek, down, down, until it hits the…coffee

table?

Even though it may sound like it, you’re not sitting courtside

at the Pepsi Center. Actually you are on your couch in front of

your new high-definition television.

“It is like watching a sporting event from the luxury box,” said

Pete Seel, technical journalism professor at CSU.

The Technical Wonders of HDTV

High-definition television is slowly taking over. It allows

viewers to see more of the picture on a wider screen and experience

a high-quality picture where colors are significantly brighter. Add

to that the fact that the resolution is virtually flawless and that

channels can be broadcasted in digital surround sound and you’ve

got a home entertainment system that rivals that of the local

AMC.

“It’s amazing. The picture quality is like night and day

compared with regular TV,” said Dan Marvin, a sales associate at

Soundtrack.

Digital technology has taken over much of the electronic device

market and TV is only the next frontier. CDs have replaced the

archaic tapes of the music industry, DVD’s are responsible for the

rapid disappearance of VHS, digital camera’s memory cards are

fading out the use of 35 mm film, and now, HDTV will change the way

people watch television forever.

“High definition offers pictures that are six times as sharp as

the current analogue signal which is a tremendous difference in

quality,” said Sean Marchant, Comcast public relations manager for

the Colorado Region. “Currently, the television standard is the

analogue signal which scans at 480 lines per second, whereas high

definition scans at 1080 interlaced lines per second and the result

is exceptional picture quality.”

Because it is impossible to receive a high definition signal on

a regular television, the first step for consumers wanting to make

the transition to HDTV is throwing out that dated, analogue

television that most of us have been using for years and buying a

high definition television.

One of the reasons why it is impossible to receive an HD signal

through a regular TV is that HD is shot in a wide screen format

allowing for more of the picture to be seen.

“The high definition televisions are made much wider because

HDTV is shot in a widescreen format. Due to this you can see

between 30 and 40 percent more so the image is similar to a movie

screen,” Marchant said.

Not only is it possible to see more of the football field on

game day, but it is also easier on the eyes.

“The HDTVs are made wider because the human eyes have binocular

vision meaning that they see horizontal pictures better than

vertical,” Seel said.

When, Where and Why in the World are We Changing to HDTV

“I would recommend that anyone thinking about getting a new

television buy an HDTV. The experience is amazing and worth it,”

Marvin said. “Besides, by December 2006 it is federally mandated

that all TV signals be broadcast in HD.”

The year 2006 is closer than we think and the Federal

Communications Commission (FCC) is mandating that transition in

order to free up more airwaves. Seel explains that analogue

channels take up more of the spectrum whereas digital channels

significantly reduce the airwaves used allowing the FCC to mandate

those extra airwaves for wireless use.

“Analogue television is very wasteful with the spectrum,

changing to digital allows for more channels that actually take up

less (airwaves),” Seel said.

With the conversion to an all HD signal on the horizon all of

the major television manufacturers including Sony and Toshiba, are

now producing HDTVs and all major electronic retailers are selling

them.

According to Albert Duff, a Soundtrack home electronics

specialist, almost 80 percent of large TV sales are HDTV’s.

“Since HD programming will eventually be in full force it is

basically pointless to buy a TV that is 32 inches or larger that is

not high definition. We don’t even carry any TV over 36 inches that

isn’t an HDTV,” Duff said.

The television sets that most of us are accustomed to are

quickly being faded out of the home entertainment market.

“It is federally mandated that by July 2007 there will not be

any analogue televisions made of any kind,” Duff said.

Once your HDTV has been purchased there is still one more step

involved before a relaxing night of home entertainment can be

experienced.

“To get high definition through Comcast cable we rent an HD box

for $5 a month. It is also possible to get HDTV through satellite

companies however the additional devices and costs alone would

make, me personally, choose the cable route,” Marchant said.

Overall, it has taken the United States a lot longer to convert

to HDTV than other countries. Duff said that most of Europe has

been broadcasting in high definition for about seven to ten

years.

One of the main reasons why the United States is still stuck in

transition is because of the expenses, not only for the channels

and networks to purchase new broadcasting and filming equipment,

but also for the consumer.

A 36-inch HDTV will deplete a viewer’s checking account by about

$1,500. However, many people in the business claim that the prices

on HDTVs are dropping.

“The initial migration has been slow but things are really

starting to pick up. The prices of HDTV sets are slowly dropping

and many major channels are starting to broadcast in HD,” Marchant

said.

KUSA Channel Nine, the NBC Denver affiliate, station claims to

be leading the way in HDTV. They are currently transmitting from a

low-power HD transmitter in Downtown Denver.

However, the signal cannot currently reach everyone. In order

for the HD signal to reach all of Channel Nine’s viewers a

high-power digital TV tower is scheduled to be built on Denver’s

Lookout Mountain within the next year, according to 9News.com.

“Aside from local channels broadcasting in HD, Comcast is

currently offering 11 channels in the Denver/Boulder area in high

definition including ESPN HD and Showtime HD,” Marchant said. “We

are also currently trying to launch HDTV in Northern Colorado but

it is not yet available to Fort Collins residents.”

HDTV Benefits Everyone

HDTV is not only great for the avid sports fan, but it is also

amazing for movie buffs.

Chris Ferland, a Sears electronics sales associate, states that

another benefit of purchasing an HDTV is that picture quality of

DVDs can also be significantly increased.

“If you purchase a DVD player with a progressive scanner in it

and then hook it up to an HDTV then you can receive complete HD

quality,” Ferland said.

Progressive scanners inside DVD players to amplify the home

entertainment experience in sound and picture is a fairly new

addition to the digital world but has taken over quickly.

“Of the 20 DVD players we sell, only two don’t have progressive

scanners. Within the next year, I would say that all DVD players

will have them,” Ferland said.

DVD players have taken over the home entertainment business,

making VHS tapes a thing of the past. It won’t be long before movie

rental stores will completely do away with videotapes.

“We don’t have an exact date as to when we will completely

discontinue video rentals but we have been very significantly

fading out VHS. More than monthly we are pulling VHS tapes off the

shelves and selling them,” said Tye Lathrop, Blockbuster

manager.

With all of these changes in the making, Marchant suggests that

although HDTV is still in the transitional phase, anyone in the

market for a television should definitely purchase an HDTV.

“I think it is right about the time that consumers should be

considering an HD set instead of an analogue. Even if programming

is not available in your area now, it won’t be long before it is,”

Marchant said. “As of now, it is not far from soon that all

channels will be broadcasting in HD.”

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