AVS Forum Special Member
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Abingdon, VA, USA
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Will it catch on? Yes.
The only real questions are in what time frame and what form. The early concepts for HDTV were mostly OTA broadcast based from the FCC. Today it involves many more things including basic TV gear, DVD, cable, Sat service, PVR, VCR, and home theater.
The principal issues (not in any order) driving HDTV include:
Content continues to improve, but it's still weak. Our Sat/Cable system gets 100+ channels, yet only 3 are HD. And of the 3, only about 50% of the material are shown in 16x9 format.
Cost is still quite high. The average consumer thinks of TVs in the $500 or less price range. Most HD sets start at 1-2K and up, before the cost of add-on gear like antennas, STB, or cabling. The cost to set up a home theater with A/V, HD RPTV, STB, etc is in the 3-5K range. Sales will be slow until good HD sets drop below $1000.
Transition to HD will be hard. Millions of folks have good TV sets they will not want to trash and replace with a new HD set. They will need a low cost STB to handle the conversion for some years to come. Such a STB has to handle OTA, cable, SAT, etc. Then there is the remote question. As many have already said, it must be simple to operate. Today STBs start at about $500, before the related issues are addressed (remote, antenna, cabling, etc). Until they reach the $100 price point range, it will be a hard sell to the masses.
Compatibility is still harder. The FCC schedule claims to mandate a full transition to HD in a few years. Most folks have no clue as to what this means. The FCC schedule has already slipped some, and most senior FCC folks think it will probably slip again. When it does occur, 10s of millions of TV sets will become worthless without an STB.
Then there is cable and Sat service. Neither have a schedule for a full transition. Neither have the bandwidth for such a transition or the budget to provide completely new STB gear to allow their customers to view HD.
The bottom line is that the transition to HD will be slow. It will grow mostly in improved picture quality as a result of HD-related gear, rather than true HD content.