Saturday, January 21, 2006

HDTV - Not

While there is plenty of chatter about HDTV, there is remarkably little action. Pundits say the problem is consumers who have not upgraded to a HDTV set. However there is another more important problem, and that is that there is absolutely no reason to go out and buy a HDTV set because there is no content.

Four years ago, we bought a 16x9 TV set expecting the HDTV revolution to arrive real soon now. So, for four years we watched even the slimmest TV starlet come across as unnaturally broad. Recently, we upgraded the cable box to HDTV with a DVR. I can report that the DVR is a great hit with my family and that the HDTV component is not used.

The first problem is that there very little HDTV content in the first place. We get 11 HDTV channels and most of them only broadcast HD content for part of the day, or only broadcast for part of the day. Today, one HDTV channel from a local station came up with black bars all around. It was a HDTV show that was being broadcast as a normal TV show with black bars top and bottom, and then it was sent out on a HDTV channel with black bars on either side.

However, the serious problem is that the HDTV channels are in the obscure 7-mumble-mumble range on the cable system. So I frequently find my family watching a show that is available in HDTV on the regular channel. Either they do not know, or they have not looked to see if it is available in HDTV. I cannot get my family to change their channel selection habits, and in truth it is inconvenient to go an look for a show that may not be there in an obscure part of the "dial".

There are more problems. For example, I want to upgrade our second TV to one of these new LCD models, however I am not going to pay the rapacious cable company for a second cable box. (Don't get me started, I can rant about the horror, inconvenience and annoyance of cable boxes for hours.) So I am going to hold out for the elusive cable card, whenever that arrives.

The end result is that HDTV is just not happening and everyone is waiting around for someone else to put the pieces together.

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