[LINK] US going digital TV in 2009

Craig Sanders cas at taz.net.au
Sun Mar 4 10:32:19 AEDT 2007

On Sun, Mar 04, 2007 at 03:36:13AM +1100, andrew clarke wrote:
> On Sat, Mar 03, 2007 at 09:22:44PM +1100, Jan Whitaker wrote:
> > The News Hour had a story on Friday about the US going to digital.
> > 
> > http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/media/jan-june07/digital_03-01.html
> > 
> > The 'expert' was panning SDTV and settop converters. I dropped them a 
> > note that he didn't know what he was talking about since I was 
> > watching him right now using a converter. What a Wall Street Journal snob.
> Quoting the 'expert', Walter Mossberg, from the article:
> > "I have not seen one of these converter boxes, but my guess is it's
> > going to really give you a lousy picture. You'll be able to receive the
> > signal, but you're going to get kind of a lousy picture."
> Later on in the article he talks about how good High Definition TV is,
> so he is probably comparing the relatively the output of a set top
> converter shown on an old analog CRT TV, to a new HDTV with a builtin
> digital receiver.  Obviously the analog TV display will indeed be fairly
> lousy compared to the new HDTV set.  

it's about the same quality as playing a DVD on an analog TV.

not too shabby.  certainly not lousy.

> But of course, HDTV isn't everything.

i doubt if most people could notice or would care about the difference
between HDTV and SDTV.  SD is "good enough".

IMO, the only real advantage of a HDTV-capable (i.e. 1080i or 1080p) TV
is that the higher resolution makes it more viable for things other than
television - high-resolution games and stuff that you'd more commonly
associate with computers, like web browsing.

> I don't know what the plan is with digital TV in Australia these days.

didn't the govt. cancel/postpone the 2008 cut-off date for analog

> Digital transmission has been required for commercial free-to-air
> networks for quite a few years now, but as far as I know, none of the
> analogue transmitters have been switched off, partly because retailers
> are still allowed to sell new TVs with analogue receivers.  

that's a mistake. all new TVs sold should be digital and wide-screen,
and should have been for at least the last 3 or 4 years.

> Most flat panel (non-CRT) TVs sold probably have digital receivers
> though.

i think most brands & models only have analog tuners, if any at all,
built in. if you want digital TV, you still have to buy a set-top box
(either SDTV or HDTV). one of the brands advertises that their TVs (or
some of them, they don't say) have the "tuna inside" (haha. tuna =
tuner. get it? advertising people are so funny).

HD boxes have come down to under $200 for the budget brands. budget SD
boxes are $60 or less (bought one yesterday for $60 to replace the one i
bought 2.5 years ago for about $120....it died a few days ago, possibly
due to a lightning strike).

personally, i don't see that there's $140 (or more) of extra value in HD
over SD.

and i'm still waiting to see a PVR (Personal Video Recorder - a HD or
SD set top box with a hard disc recorder) with an RJ-45 network port
built in. the cheapest ones still cost over $400 these days, and some
cost well over $1100...but they don't have a network port in them for
transferring recordings to/from a PC (or for playing video, or mp3,
files that happen to be stored on a PC).

if you want networking you're better off with a DVB-T device (PCI card
or USB) in a PC running linux and VDR (or whatever the equivalent is for
windows - pre-Vista, of course) for recording and an xbox running XBMC
connected to the TV for viewing. which is a bit clumsy for most users,
it would be better to have just the one unit for viewing real-time TV
and recordings.

easily upgradable hard discs would also be useful on a PVR. in a year or
two, even the big 750GB drives will seem tiny (the biggest drive i've
seen in a PVR so far is 160GB). upgrading the hard-disc should be as
simple as turning it off, opening a panel, removing the old drive and
inserting the new one. the PVR should then offer to format it when you
power it on again. better yet, have two slots for drives so you don't
lose your old recordings when you upgrade. or, at least, a USB port so
you can plug your old drive into that and transfer your recordings to
the new drive.

> I suspect the most confusing aspect of buying a new TV is whether to
> choose a CRT, LCD, plasma or rear projection set...

in terms of electricity consumption, heat generated, quality of picture,
and price, LCD is emerging as the clear winner.

better yet, wait a year or two and they'll be better and cheaper. mass
production of large LCD panels is really beginning to ramp up.

and LCD's generally the best choice for computer monitors too. in
another generation or two, LCD monitors will be good enough to replace
even big CRT monitors - the two things holding me back from switching
my current 21" Philips 201B monitor to an LCD are: 1. i've still got a few
years of useful life left in this monitor, and 2. the "affordable" (i.e.
sub-$1000) large LCDs only have a max resolution of about 1600x1200....i
run my current 21" CRT at 1920x1440.

i expect that i'll switch when LCD resolution equals or exceeds my CRT's
resolution. that probably means when the big 30" LCD monitors (that have
higher res.) which currently cost around $3000 come down to under $1000.


craig sanders <cas at taz.net.au>

BOFH excuse #58: high pressure system failure

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