No Definition For Half Of HDTV Owners

from the i-have-a-bridge-to-sell-you dept

With HDTVs in 16 million homes by the end of the year, one would hope that the people putting these new sets into their homes have an understanding of the reason why they’ve just paid a premium over a normal television. Well, apparently confusion still abounds. HD programming still has a long way to go, so while it’s not that surprising that 49% of HDTV owners don’t utilize their HD functions, what is surprising (and a little scary) is that a quarter thought they were watching HDTV all along. Consumers clearly need to be educated more. If people are so easily duped, why are engineers working so hard to solve the world’s problems? Just slap on a sticker that says what you want your product to do, head home and crack open that beer.

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Comments on “No Definition For Half Of HDTV Owners”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Retail Monopoly

Plenty of consumers would just as soon pay less to watch non-HDTV.

I disagree. I think plenty of consumers are more than happy to pay $2500 just to have the priveledge of having a shiny new brushed aluminum bigscreen in the house. As long as it has an HDTV logo on it; actually watching true HDTV is an afterthought. Asking consumers to research pros/cons of various display technologies (LCD and black level problems, DLP and rainbow artifacts, plasma and burn-in) and educate themselves about the technical aspects (720P? 1080i?) of an item they’re about to max a credit card on is just too much.

If you want to know the real answer, look at the real moneymakers in that market. It’s not the HDTV set, it’s the “Component Video Cable”. Markups on these items go into $100+ on the branded cables at Best Buy that are electrically the same (75 Ohm, Gold Plated) as decent quality stereo cables at Radio Shack. Even at other stores you can expect to pay up to $40 more for the same item in a package labeled “Component Video Cable” rather than “AV Cable”.

I have seen uninformed buyers get physically angry and argue that this cable is “completely different”. Because this is what the guy at the store told them.

George says:

Re: Re: Re: Retail Monopoly

Duuooyy, so couldn’t I just buy two extra “video only” cables for an extra $5/piece?

BTW, has 17′ of Audio cable for under $8 and 6′ of RCA brand HDTV component video cable for under $10. Shipping on those two items together come to just under $7. That’s all the cable you need to locate your tv and cable/satellite box close together and hook into your stereo system that is across the room, and it comes to about $25

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Retail Monopoly

Check out Python cables. Same quality as Monster cable, but very cheap. As for the audio use optical or coax(just a single RCA…standard video cable will do) so you can enjoy 5.1 Dolby Digital on those HD channels…if your stereo supports it.

I’m pretty sure a standard AV cable will work as a component cable as long as you get a high qulity one(doesn’t have to be expensive, though). They’re both 70 OHM. You just want to make sure it supports the higher bandwidth or else you might notice some picture degredation.

Marco says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Retail Monopoly

Analog RGB (component) signals are actually less complex and have less high frequency content than equivillent composite video or Y/C (S-video) signals. Standard video cables (RG59 75ohm) are sufficient as far as bandwidth, interference, etc. However, with component and S-video, there are timing issues such that the cables need to be the same length. Granted, you probably wouldn’t visually notice anything unless the difference in length were like 4 feet. But consider this – there are a lot of unnoticable things that your eyes and mind compensate for, and the more work they are doing, the less relaxing your viewing experience is. (Same with your ears and audio by the way)

So here’s my suggestion: Buy cables designed for component video that have a fairly good shield and connectors that conduct well. This doesn’t mean you need to spend a hundred dollars. Pi Manufacturing ( has VERY economical cables. For their bottom of the line you get what you pay for, but they also have some $10 cables that are very nice – 93% braid + 100% foil shield, gold connectors, etc.

You will experience a much bigger difference between $5 audio cables and $10 component cables than you will between $10 and $100 component cables.

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Retail Monopoly

I agree with you 100% Marco. I did a little more reading and it seems as though some manufacturers use different amounts of sheilding and different sized center conductors for the video and audio channels of standard RCA A/V cabling. I still feel that some companies use the same cabling for all 3, but usually in this case all 3 of the wires are sub-standard. In theory, 3 composite video cables will work as a component cable, but for only pennies more you get color coding and the wires are molded together. I like Python cable personally. According to the specs available online Python has a larger center conductor(22AWG vs. 24AWG) and 95% braid for the same price or cheaper than Pi. It isn’t quite as pretty, though.

Rob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Retail Monopoly

Actually no… each cable is simply 3 RCA connectors. A normal AV cable can be used in a pinch as a component cable, just as an standard RCA cable can be used as a digital audio cable (not an optical one obviously.) The difference is in the shielding and the connecting material.

Don’t let the colors fool you…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Retail Monopoly

As far as the component cable vs. AV cable point goes, most manufacturers use the same jacket, center conductor, insulator foam, and coating in both their AV branded lines and in the “component video” lines. The difference is the RGB color on the wire labels, the print on the box, and of course the price markup. Make no mistake, if you have purchased “Component Video Cables” and paid more than you would pay for “AV Cables”, you have been duped. If it makes you feel better to use AV cables you can always color them with a green and blue marker. The red one is usually already there for the right audio channel.

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Retail Monopoly

That’s kind of what I was saying. Higher quality AV cables use a larger center conductor, and have better shielding…so I assume they can be used as a component cable. I know it would work, but I don’t know if there would be any noticable picture degredation, especially with very short runs. Same with the digital coax don’t need a special cable labeled “for digital coax”. I just tore off a red(right analog audio) RCA cable off of a Component/Audio (5 RCAs) to use as my digital coax. It is a much thicker cable than your average RadioShack RCA, so I assume it is of better quality (can’t be sure). It sends a Dolby Digital or DTS signal (DTS-ES on occassion) from my DVD to my stereo without a hiccup. Obviously, you need a fiber optic cable to run digital optical, but I don’t see any advantage over coax unless you have extremely long runs IMO.

The colors are just there to make it easier to hook up. Color coding. As long as you match up on both ends it should work. I agree, “Don’t let the colors fool you…”

This is another area where a lot of people get very confused…Digital Audio.

Loraan says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Retail Monopoly

It’s a fact that HD signals have to carry much higher frequencies than SD signals and audio signals. The question that I’ve seen raised is whether standard AV cables have the bandwidth to carry these high frequencies without attenuation or interference. Maybe some do, maybe some don’t.

I’m certainly not suggesting that you have to go out and buy a $100 Monster Cable Rip-Off. That’s ridiculous.

Personally, I made my own component cables out of RG-6 coax and F-connectors. Now I’m SURE that my cables have more than enough bandwidth and shielding to carry the HD signals, it was cheaper than buying pre-made cable (and I have half a spool of RG-6 left over if I need it), and the cables are exactly the right length.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Retail Monopoly

I think the point he was trying to make is that there is no difference between the $100 componenet cables that best buy sells liek these:

and the comparable radio shack cables like these:

Radio shack cables work for me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Radio shack cables work for me

There is a big difference between $30 and $100, I’ll agree, but $30 is still way too much to pay for composite cables. Five years ago you could get them at Radio Shack for under five. The difference between the $100 cables and the $30 ones is negligible, but so is the difference between the $30 and $5 models.

Joel Hunter says:

Re: Retail Monopoly

First of all, as a manufacturer, they have the decision to make whatever they want. Do you want a society where you, as a manufacturer are told what products to create and sell? While smart manufacturers would want to produce things that people want, what consumer wouldn’t want to pay the same and see a better picture? HDTV will be standard, and if manufacturers continue to offer non-HDTV sets, it will actually cost more to produce them than the HDTV sets. I sell HDTVs and there is way more demand for HDTV than non-HDTV with people knowing that HDTV sets cost more. Lastly, have you seen the picture? You need to…

Andy (user link) says:

Re: Retail Monopoly

I can vouch for the Comcast offering of HDTV in St. Paul, MN. I am splitting the bill with three other roommates, so the 55-60 dollars/month we are spending is divided four ways, and thus, “worth it,” but I don’t recommend it to my friends who are now getting ready to buy and HDTV set. Sure you can buy the HDTV, projector, DLP, LCD, Plasma, whatever, but the amount of content you get for what you pay is a sham.
If you watch ESPN only like my roommates however, then you might not mind. Some of the games look great, but this novelty fades pretty quickly. Discover HD Theater? Looks good, but you might actually watch about one show per 3 month time period. InHD, InHD2? Crap. Some nice looking eye candy or the occasional interesting concert, but no one ever watches it for more than 10 minutes around here.
Local HD channels are nice, but yippee, it’s primetime crap shows. My roommate bought a Philips 34″ HDTV that doesn’t do 720P, which has made it pretty crappy as the media center PC screen I hoped it would be. It is reduced to a crappy low resolution which produces readable fonts, but the screen has to pan around every time, a big pain.
Hold off on an HD set if your only motivation is HDTV. And remember, DVDs are NOT HD!

Jason says:

Re: Re: Retail Monopoly

You bought an HDTV that doesn’t support 720p??? Sounds like you got ripped off. Post a link to a description of this TV. I’ve never heard of an HDTV that didn’t support 720p. Are you sure it wasn’t EDTV?

DVDs aren’t HD, but they are progressive scan and look much better on a TV that can support it. HDTVs all support this, and I’m not sure if non-HDTVs do…EDTVs probably do. A lot of the newer LDTVs have component inputs but still don’t support progressive scan.

It all comes down to what you want/like. Some people like ferrari’s. Are they worth it…NO…but they are fun as hell. Conversely you can get a Civic; it’ll get you around and has a bit of pep too.

Personaly, I’m a big fan of HD(I also like ferrari’s, but have settled for an S2000), but I am also a big fan of bargains. I tend to do a lot of research to get a good product at a great price. I’m very technically savvy, so I can make it work. The average person isn’t and if it isn’t worth it to them, then don’t buy it. Your old tv will work just fine, and if you need a new 1 then why not go buy a brand new 32″ LDTV for $260. Regular broadcast will look great on it. When everything goes digital, assuming you have cable, you won’t have a problem. The bunny ears won’t work anymore without a converter.

As far as 1/2 of HD owners not even having the 720p/1080i selection turned on, it is awesome to go into 1 of their homes and watch their expression when you enable it. I think installers are partly at fault. Most of these TVs are professionaly installed and the installer is only skilled in the art of mounting the device. They have no clue on all the settings. Those DIYers who install their own probably take the time to read the instructions to figure out how everything works.

Most devices sold today have many functions most people aren’t even aware of. I like to read the instructions and take full advantage of what I have. Others don’t care. It’s a matter of preference. Bottom-line: If you don’t know how to put your tv into 720p/1080i then you probably should have saved your money.

ann says:

Re: Re: Re: Retail Monopoly

HELP!!…I am a senior citizen…my 27″ zenith just died…so now I am going to buy a new TV and I don’t know what to do….should I just buy a regular tv or buy an HDTV ready television?….I just have a time warner cable box and only watch cable television….I will not be buying any new connections or anything….am I wasting my money buying a regular television since everyone says all tv will be hd in the next 2 or 3 years….thanks for any advice…


orax says:

Rice TV's

Maybe If I just put a Plus Sticker on my decoder, I will get HBO Plus, and Cinemax 2.
I am succesfully using a HDTV sticker, and it has improved reception, on good days I get High Definition.
But the best improvement I made was this VTec – DOHC sticker I put on the side of the TV, an now I can change channels way faster.

GSA says:

We just bought an HD set

We just bought an HD set mostly to watch movies, but when I found out I just needed to trade cable boxes to get 10 or so HD channels, I did it.

Holy. Crap.

Discovery HD Theater is easily the coolest and best HD channel out there, and my point is this. The picture on this TV looks 10 times better than it did running the demo reel in the store. Any store. ALL stores. Even Best Buy and Circuit City, who you’d think could actually get the demo right.

What *I* don’t understand is why are all these people buying HDTVs blind? Yeah it’s worth it, if your cable company or satellite service support it, but you aren’t getting a realistic demonstration of your TV’s capabilities with what they show in the store.

So maybe that’s why these folks think it’s HD – ‘Cause it looks as good as the store demo tape?

jinx says:

Re: Re: We just bought an HD set

This is completely untrue. Most non-HD display are capable of displaying a much higher resolution than the broadcasts they currently receive, I believe its 480i. I have comcast digital cable and no HDTVs. I can watch all of their HD content and enjoy an almost identical resolution as someone who spent thousands more. The only benefit I can see is the 16:9 resolution and future technologies that will utilize the full capabilities of HD, ie. 1080p DVDs and such.

AZ (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: We just bought an HD set

My Grandparent bought a normal 4×3 ratio HDTV ready tv. I would have went with a thin LCD or at least a tv with 16×9 ratio. They knew little about HDTv other than soon
thats all they would be able to recieve(2009 cutoff date?). We got them a motorola Voom HD reciever for there Christmas present. We tested it and man it looks great on that tv.
Analog tv stretched out on that 36inch set looked fuzzy and hard to read any lettering on it. Cant wait to see there reaction on Christmas day. Were going to plug it in and not say a word. Just see if they notice.

I think the sad part is that stores still sale regular non HD ready sets! I mean who wants to pay all that money for a new tv if you can only use it for a couple of years and have to put it away? I know a normal tv with a HD reciever can bring in picture but its not HD and its not formatted to come in on a normal tv.

I agree there should be more information with the tv and around the tvs in the stores on what it takes to get HD. Were getting just the local HD stations and its great. I personally dont have a HD tv. I got this thing for my pc called MYHD and it lets me watch HD programming on my computer monitor(21in 1680x? pixels resolution).

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:2 We just bought an HD set

When they switch to digital only, it doesn’t mean everything will be in HD. Hell, some of the stuff that comes in on the HD channels isn’t even HD. It just means everything will be digital instead of analog to free up some bandwidth over-the-air. In my case it means I’ll have to have a digital cable box which I need anyway If I want digital cable. Where I live it is cheaper to get digital cable than analog cable. The funny thing is that if you undo the digital cable box and plug the coax directly into the back of the TV you get regular analog cable(70 channels).

I also have a HDTV 720p projector. There is no charge or additional fee to upgrade from a digital cable box to a HDTV digital cable box where I live. The box is leased so I don’t have to pay $500 as one person wrote. I believe the 1st box is free and each additional 1 is $5 a month extra. I have 1 HD box and pay $5 extra a month to have it upgraded to a DVR. Best way to do it IMO. If it ever messes up, I just take it back to the TimeWarner office and they trade it out for free.

Mr Sony says:

Re: Re: Re: We just bought an HD set

You’re nuts! You’ve obviosly have never seen a true HD picture. There is no comparison what-so-ever. Standard TV is dark and 2-dimensional. The HDTV picture is vivid and 3-dimensional. Try reading the warning sticker on a football helmet on a non-HD set. All you see is dark lines. With HD although you can’t quite read it, you can see some letters.

BUGSY says:

Re: We just bought an HD set

Clearly, your point is valid: Electronics stores don’t take the time or invest the money to demo each set properly. I am constantly amazed by the lack of sophistication in this department considering the awful price points to upgrade from a “really good” tube TV to a mediocre plasma/LCD. Watch for the big price drops in the next 12 months.

Off Topic says:

Re: Re: Re: W graduated from Yale...

…yeah, it’s not like grades can be bought or anything (or degrees for that matter). I’m no genius, and I have a degree (although I didn’t buy it). Can I be president?

2) I can drive a car, ride a motorcycle, pilot a boat and bounce on a pogo stick, it dosen’t make me any smarter. Physical coordination does not imply intellegence. In any case, do you really want to draw attention to his service record?

3) How does owning a baseball team (or anything else) make one smart? It’s not even as if he managed it, he just signed the checks (well, rubber-stamped anyhow).

4) As for being the governor of Texas, I want to make a joke about “Two things that come from Texas…”, but I won’t. Seriously, though, a VERY wealthy, VERY politically-connected man assuming public office needn’t be a brain surgeon. Actually, all he need is a pulse and a good smile. Not to mention you’re talking about a man who has groomed since his youth, for the express purpose of holding office (much like John Kerry), you might even say it’s a family tradition. You’re not winning any arguments with that one either.

5) As for “Elected twice as president”; first I’ll refer you to my previous comments. While I will conceded that he he was most likely legitimately awarded his office, unfortunately all that means is that he convinced his political associates in the electoral college to vote him in. And in truth, “W” didn’t get into office on his own, it took a significant number of people (many of which held considerable political clout) and a significant number of dollars to get him there. That’s not so much a comment on the man, but rather a sad commentary on the nature of our (the US) political system.

Point me to something else that actually demonstrates his intelligence, or better yet, let’s go back to talking about HDTV. It was an off-hand comment, made in passing as a joke and didn’t even refer to anyone specifically. The “idiot prsident” comment could have meant any one of 42 different men for all you know, you made this about “W”. It’s interesting that he’s the first one you thought of as an “idiot” though… 🙂

jhamil says:

you don't say.

i bought a hdtv back in july and when i ordered the cable box and all that came with it from my cable company, waited 3 days to get it, and finally hooked it up, it looked WORSE. i had to drag it out of the installer that they REALLY dont have digital anything around here. nice huh? and the channels they claimed to be HD were a waste of my screen space. i got rid of it needless to say (the cable that is!)
funny thing is somehow my hd tuner picked up all those cool channels in HD from somewhere else and without the waste of space and box… for free.
too bad they were smart enough to figure that one out.
but its all worth it to have the hdmi on the home theater to connect it to. those cables arent cheap either.

dholford says:

Re: you don't say.

The FCC’s mandate to go to digital TV included allowance for HDTV. There are actually 18 different standards for digital tv, of which 2 are the HDTV we are learning about. The purpose of the FCC mandate was broadcasting the digital signal. If you get a decent antenna (outdoor antenna from Radio Shack with a rotor for example) and connect it to your digital TV, you will see clear HD pictures from you local HDTV stations for free. The major affiliates in all TV markets are required to broadcast it. The ignorant folks at Best Buy & Circuit City who sell those cables (USB 2.0 – 6 ft.=$34@BB $5.61@Sam’s Club) are trying to sell DirecTV or Dish Network and those boxes have connections for broadcast TV but few use them.
A caution though: digital reception is on 100% or off 100%. If your antenna isn’t looking at it directly you may not see it at all. When you do the signal is as clear as the computer screen you’re reading this on (or better!).
A TV guy

Ed H. says:

Some Random Comments

  • This news comes from a maker of set-top boxes, so naturally they would like for the results to show that there’s a huge potential market for their product.
  • I see no distinction in this report between so-called “HD-ready” sets and ones with built-in HDTV tuners. It seems that virtually any large screen TV sold today is called HD-ready because it has some kind of component input, so anybody buying a big screen today would be getting some HD capability whether they intend to use it or not. HD availability today is markedly better than it was a year or two ago, so there are potentially a lot of sets out there with some HD capability that can only now be utilized.
  • Expensive cables must account for half of an A/V store’s profit margin (the other half coming from extended service plans). Ironically, if you lease an HD-capable box from Comcast, they supply a very beefy looking component video cable, so buying your own is completely unnecessary.
  • Doubly ironic is that Comcast doesn’t supply an HDMI cable even though some of their HD boxes will support it. HDMI is a digital interconnect, so it should work flawlessly with any cable meeting minimum specs, but as long as it is perceived as “high-end” the market for high-markup cables will be there for HDMI, too.
  • A real HD signal such as Discovery HD Theater is as jaw-dropping as GSA says. It is still remarkable that store displays are so bad. Even high-end stores are hardly better.
googly_eyes says:

Content worth watching, and paying premium $ for?

When they offer ala Cart HD cable or satellite service, I *MAY* consider buying an HDTV. Until then, and or my LD (low defenition) TV burns out, the one I have now will suffice.

I don’t watch broadcast TV, I turned off my cable for several reasons (mostly the fact that I turned into a zombie when it was on), but chieftest among them was that I couldn’t stand some of the programming they threw in, and didn’t want my daughter watching.

So, Discovery HD is cool and all, but how many hours of that a week can someone watch? Is anything out there from the media really worth $3K+ and $80+/month Cable/sat fees?

Jason says:

Re: Content worth watching, and paying premium $ f

I’m sure for some it isn’t worth it. I’m really into high-tech stuff and love my HDTV, but I have to get away from it sometimes. I have a native 720p projector throwing a 92″ image onto a screen. Granted I have to have controlled lighting, but for $1600 I’m not complaining. The same model is now going for around $1000.{0A958150-6989-4D68EVEREST-93EB-F121253C0782}&ic=plvz2

Definetly the best bang for the buck IMO.

If I didn’t have high-speed internet my cable bill would be $40(digital package)+$5(DVR upgrade)+$7(HD package)+$12(Showtime and HBO)=$64. Now I got all that so I could get every HD channel they had. If you just get the basic digital package you get several HD channels included(Discovery, TNT, PBS, & networks) for $40, but I wanted more. So, if your getting cable anyway, you won’t have to pay extra for HD content, you just need a compatible TV. I really like the HDNet and INHD channels(part of HD package). Lots of interesting programs and lots of awesome concerts and music footage. The Dolby Digital 5.1 really helps to create a “concert in my home feel”.

I have more reason to justify my expenses also.

Don’t forget about DVDs. I like to wait until a movie comes out on DVD instead of going to the theater, because I have a better experience at home now. Digital picture and sound, and the ability to drink a beer, or go to the bathroom when I want…pause button.

I like to play video-games, and the game-cube, PS2, and XBox look fantastic through component cables on my HD projector. What looks the best, though, is my PC which is hooked up via a digital connection(DVI) to my projector. I can set my PCs resolution to 1280×720 and I can sit back on the couch and surf the web or what have you. When I play PC games the experience has to be seen to be beleived. It makes the PS2 look like old-school nintendo.

When you blow-up an image this big you really need to have HD to enjoy it. When I watch regular cable channels on my projector they look grainy and fuzzy despite being scaled up to 720p by my cable box.

Something that may interest you concerning your daughter. With the digital cable box you can set up parental controls. Every tv show now has a rating, and you can control what ratings she can see. Of course there is still a lot of crap she’ll be able to see, but it won’t be sexual or violent.

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