For a city that has no HDTV support from local broadcasters or cable, HDTV appears to be growing at a surprizing rate.
Every 4 months or so, I make the rounds to our largest retail outlets for home electronics and conduct an informal chat with the sales force to see where things are going. These stores include but not limited to:Best Buy, Circuit City, Sound Advice, Sears. I added Sears because they do seem to have a good turn around on their floor models and have a large % of HDTV on display.
It appears that the most informed, intelligent responses come from Sound Advice and second, Circuit City. I don't query the small mom&pop specialty home theater retailers because they do not get the traffic or move the volume to indicate any trends in sales.
The real good news is that HDTV capable monitors are considered second in popularity only to DVD players. The inventory shows about 60% of all TV's in the house advertise the "HDTV" designation in some way prominently. Predictions are that by next year, all sets in the house will be HDTV, said the rep from SA to another buying customer. Of all the RPTV's the non-HDTV models are difficult to move with so many great looking HDTV's sitting side by side. In spite of our local broadcaster's indifference to HDTV, HDTV by consumers is being purchased with the salesman's info that only DirecTV or DishNetwork as being the only available source for programming. People are willing to invest in the future now. This raises an important conflict question:
What do you think about DVI and Firewire connect?
I got some interesting replies from Never heard of it to: IT is a new connection that will be out next year that will have added features. Mits sets we sell are supposed to have an upgrade path and the sets with built in tuners won't need it. I asked what about all those sets you sell now, like Sony, Pioneer that have neither, will they be obsolete in a year when the DBS providers kill the analog outputs on your STB's you sell. Answer- we really don't believe they will ever do that. There are just too many sets being sold right now that require the analog signals to work. Like anything else we'll sell the new stuff when it arrives but don't believe any new technology will shut down the sets we sell today. That would be stupid.
Real hot items are the TV/VHS/DVD combos and HDTV ready sets. Doubts they will have floor space for any simple analog TV's this Christmas. Predicts are that the only place to find these sets will be in K-Mart and Walmart in 2002.
So, the big change from about 4 months ago is that HDTV's are being sold in nearly _all_ larger Home entertainment centers and small Home theater systems. 4 months ago I was told "about half of all sets sold are HDTV ready."
I think this is encouraging news for us locally because with all the sales in HDTV's, soon, our local TV stations and cable will have to get a clue and begin to catch up to the sophistication of it's customers. The consumer base in Jacksonville are clearly sending a message that they are taking the lead in HDTV. It is not the TV stations and not the Cable company. Clearly, without HDTV support by local providers, these locals will lose this demographic to the DBS companies, but, Jacksonville consumers will have it's HDTV.
All in all, this clearly tells me that locally, HDTV is having a nice growth spurt.
Home Theater Pics at: www.scubatech.com
Last updated 3/25/01