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HD is Everywhere

Screen Options Becoming Aggressive -- Delivery Battle Could Be Brutal By Miles Weston

"The day I made that statement, about inventing the Internet, I was tired because I'd been up all night inventing the camcorder"
-- Al Gore

Al Gore was quick to admit he slightly overstated his role in developing the Internet.  But in joking at his own expense, he probably didn't realize how prophetic his statement would be by linking video with the Internet.

All of the professional level products -- hardware and software -- at this year's IFA and IBC conferences focused on producing and delivering high definition content -- movies, television, music.  Now that Gore's Current TV is a growing cable network he's probably watching the rapidly developing IPTV arena and keeping his Internet options open.

Thanks largely to government regulations, HDTV content development and delivery have moved fairly rapidly in the U.S. since 1994. Europe on the other hand chose to let the market set the pace for conversion and there was only one channel delivering digital content in Europe in 2004.  Service expansion has been painfully slow so the need for HD TV sets has been mired in high cost and lack of interest. England's BBC has been one of the early adopters so European broadcasters are watching their progress before they jump in with breathtaking content.

High Def TV set sales are experiencing considerable growth in the Pacific Basin (Figure 1) but for a change sales in the area lag behind those in the U.S.  Europeans are certainly interested in high-def big screen viewing and the set manufacturers and European retailers are convinced that the soccer World Cup will be the key decision point for many households.  Then European consumers will face the same challenge U.S. buyers face -- a dizzying array of sets and techie points that will totally blow your mind.

Fig. 1

"Television enables you to be entertained in your home by people you wouldn't have in your home."
-- David Frost

Even though our rear projection "HDTV-ready" set isn't that old, we decided it was time to replace the huge piece of family room furniture with one of the sleek flat panel sets you see "everywhere."   Trouble is, what self-respecting American family sits down and watches TV together anymore?  So multiple idiot screens meant we could: move the big set into one of the kids rooms which would mean they couldn't have anything else in the room (like a bed) buy a flat panel set for each of them (like that ain't gonna happen). 

That was an easy decision because they already have powerful InstantON entertainment notebooks.  Kids were raised by TV and they entertain themselves with their computers, the Internet and cellphones.  When we were growing up and happened to say we were bored the old man solved the problem -- he sent us outside to work and you did?or else.  But in today's civilized Wi-Fi homes, kids fill their time watching videos and movies on their systems in their rooms, by the pool and probably even in class.  In addition, our kids have ADS Tech TV tuner cards to prerecord shows when they left their systems at home and attached to our media center PC.

According to In-Stat (Figure 2) they are in the majority since the sale of entertainment-ready notebooks has surpassed the sale of "plain old" PCs.

Fig. 2

So simply by adding 21-inch LCD monitors they had everything they needed for IM-ing, Web research, streaming video/audio, email, digital surround music and, oh yes?schoolwork.  That was easy and the picture looked better than that large screen set in the family room ?and they had room for furniture!

"Television has proven that people will look at anything rather than each other."
--Ann Landers

Picking a new flat screen HDTV sounds easy enough?look at the picture, ask the price, take delivery?yeah, right!

First you have to decide if you are going to go with plasma or LCD flat screens. Worldwide LCD sets outsell plasma systems three to one (Figure 3) but we were going to keep an open mind.  Until recently the flat panel displays have been extremely pricey.  But with everyone entering the market including Dell and HP, prices are plummeting.  By mid-next year when several Asian plasma and LCD plants come on line, prices will get brutal.

Fig. 3

But when your wife wants to remodel the room and have the FCC's version of HDTV to watch HGTV, you do what is required.  While that part of the population makes the decision, most of the purchases are made because of intellectually-stimulating HD programming like Nascar, football, golf, tennis, baseball and boxing. 

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Related Keywords:IFA, IBC, producing, delivering high definition content, movies, television, music, government regulations, HDTV, content development, delivery, Miles Weston

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