10 months to choose a HDTV? Need help on what to look for?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jeff_P, Apr 1, 2001.

  1. Jeff_P

    Jeff_P Stunt Coordinator

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    While shopping today for a new entertainment center my wife told me for my 30th birthday she is going to buy me a HDTV. Well since my birhday is not until January I got a long wait but I need to know what I need to look for.
    I read sound&vision, home theater magazine, and sometime audio/video interiors and look at all the different topics posted here but I am still confused on what to look for.
    I heard of line doubling, comb filters, 1080i (which I understand). I was planning on only getting a HDTV-ready for now until more programming is ready.
    To let you know what else I am working with- I have a Denon-4800 receiver, Sony dvp-7000 DVD player, Dish Network receiver(basic), and Def Tech speakers. I would like to get a HDTV in the 56-64in range depending on price and performance. I think my budget might be around 4,000.
     
  2. Richard Driskill

    Richard Driskill Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Jeff,
    There are quite a few "flavors" of ATSC sets out there, aren't there? Well just to start off, I own a 64" ATSC (Advanced Television Standards Committee) RPTV (rear-projection television) made by Inteq (Zenith). I normally wouldn't touch a Zenith with a 20' pole, but this is an entirely different beast. It's like seeing a Cadillac STS roll out the back door of a Volkswagon production plant.
    My recommendation on this one is to push the budget as far as possible. I know you said $4,000, but if you can make it around $5,000, a whole new universe opens up. And if you treat it right, it might last 10 years, so the investment pays off. I paid about $6,600 about 9 months ago, and since then it has dropped in price ($5,500?). So if you have 9 to 10 months to go, it will definitely come down even more (ALL ATSC sets will).
    I think the number one thing that clinched the deal was that the set used 9" guns for it's 64" screen. Normally this size is not used until you reach about 72" (which is a significantly larger screen). It had very good specs, and was a genuine ATSC set, as it had the digital tuner built in (as well as the analog, of course). As of late, the RPTV's as well as the plasma TV's have taken a quantum leap in advances from what they used to be, so don't reject a RPTV based upon past performances (contrast, brightness, viewing angles are very good now). Go take a look at a high end RPTV playing 1080i in a store, I think you'll be surprised (unless you already know this).
    On the downside (kinda, but your getting a huge screen), it is a VERY large set (64" high, 64" wide, and I think a little over 24" deep). It has a great "shell" that doesn't let any dust into the set. I had told my 5 year old son that a very big TV was coming, and when they wheeled it through the doors, my son said: "Mommy! Mommy! That's a Holy Cow TV!". We cracked up hard. Anyway, I use the set in a room 25' X 15" along a "long" wall nestled between two groups of massive book cases. The minimum viewing distance is 8' (in my case it is about a 12' distance), so that would play into the possible selection. It has so many different connections that (including computer, and Satellite port) it makes you drool.
    Brooklyn should be great for OTA (over-the-air) reception, in case your cable company doesn't go higher than digital SDTV (standard definition television: 480i and 480p), with the exception being on YOUR end if a tall building is blocking your path. There are more and more ATSC stations coming on line every day (I think it's up past 170 now, country-wide), so don't sell yourself short in not getting a ATSC set with the tuner built in.
    Line doubling, quading, etc. is very nice, as well as direct trace (tube/CRT) sets, but they are expensive and tend to be smaller. I would go with the larger screen and 1080i any day of the week.
    Sometimes (depending on the DVD transfer), the actors look like they are going to fog up the screen on the other side of the "window" with their breath!
    Anyway, that's my slant on it; and don't forget to read the specs and check out the TV in a store displaying a 1080i signal. In any event, you've got plenty of time to become an "expert" before you (er, she) plunk down the green.
    .... and it's time for me to go watch DVD #458; Lawrence of Arabia. Later,
    Rich
    P.S.: DON'T FORGET TO LAY IT ON THICK WHEN THANKING YOUR WIFE JEFF! [​IMG] (and rack up HER favorite DVD FIRST once you get the set!)
     
  3. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    Jeff,
    The biggest decision you will probably make is screen shape -- 4x3 vs. 16x9. There has been a lot of debate on this and other forums regarding the pros/cons of each screen size, but one of the deciding factors will be what type of material you watch most often (broadcast TV, DVD's, etc.).
    If you decide on a 4x3 set, make sure it provides the ability to squeeze the picture on 480i and 480p sources (i.e. DVD). Some sets only do this vertical compression when receiving a 1080i hi-def signal. If you want to get the maximum resolution from your anamorphic widescreen DVD's, this feature is a must.
    As part of your budget, you may want to also consider upgrading your Sony 7000 DVD player to a new progressive scan player once you get the HD-ready TV. You will obtain an even higher quality picture using a progressive scan player with an HD-ready set.
    With your 10 month timetable, you have the advantage of waiting for another year's models, which will probably bring additional performance/features and reduced prices. By that time, the progressive DVD player technology will have matured a little more, too, so you will probably be able to find a decent player for a reasonable price.
    Today, for $4,000 you could purchase a Toshiba 65H80 65-inch widescreen set and a progressive scan DVD player from either Toshiba or JVC. This is just one example, of course.
     
  4. Richard Driskill

    Richard Driskill Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi again Jeff, I'm just going to jump back in for 1 minute here.
    When someone says "HDTV" and television" in the same sentence, they are talking about a ATSC set, which has a aspect ratio of 16 X 9, no if's, no and's, and no but's.
    I personally do NOT recommend you spend any money on a NTSC set, regardless of the resolution it may be capable of. Presently, and for the next 5 years, NTSC is still the standard, But..... at the end of that time (which would be 4 years, when you purchase your set), ATSC will become the new standard. There can be only one standard. Every day that goes by, more and more ATSC transmissions are occuring (I think there is in excess of 170 ATSC broadcasters on the air now in the US, and I've seen a slew of data with tons waiting in the wings), and every day the shelves at the stores are shrinking in VHS space and being reused to sell DVD's. There are even a lot of commercials on NTSC television right now that have started to subtly crop the image "work area" to a 16 X 9 ratio, which therein shows a trend. The difference between POSSIBLY looking at side bars to a shrinking degree of time instead of DEFINITELY looking at top and bottom bars all the time is a strong point to consider. The difference in the volumous size of the image of a DVD using the whole (or close to) 16 X 9 screen is worth it alone. It is my opinion that you would be much, much better off by purchasing an ATSC set (16X9 aspect ratio screen). Especially if you are going to spend serious money.
    Specifically in reference to the set I recommended, a progressive scan DVD player would do no good. It takes ALL digital signal input and upconverts them to use the HDTV 1080i matrix.
    And just in case there was any confusion on the ATSC format, I include the following:
    ATSC is comprized of 5 separate matrix's;
    SDTV: 480i, 480p (SDTV is also commonly refered to as DTV)
    HDTV: 720i, 720p, 1080i
    By-the-way, in case you were wonder about comparable sizes (top to bottom), here is an example: a 50" NTSC set has a similar vertical screen height (30") versus a 64" ATSC set's vertical screen height (33").
    Lastly, Scott was talking about a 65" Toshiba set for $4,000. If this set is a ATSC based set (I do not know), then there is a chance it does not have a digital tuner built in (only HDTV "ready", or HDTV "compatible"). That is a choice you'll have to make. Keep reading up on the subject, and good luck. [​IMG]
     
  5. AllenD

    AllenD Second Unit

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    $5k is a great budget now and especially in 10 mos.
    I'm a bit out of the loop when it comes to current news on encryption schemes for HD material. Unless there is already a standard set for an encryption scheme, I would suggest not buying a set w/a built in tuner. If standards change, your set will be rendered obsolete by a new encryption scheme, unless someone sells the upgrade for "ATSC" sets that Richard suggested. An HD ready set paired w/any current HD tuner would be the way to go. So if standards change, an upgrade to your receiver or HD set is all that is needed to meet new standards. Correct me on this one if I'm wrong since it's been months since I've read up on this issue.
    Also, go to http://www.hdtvinsider.com/ and sign up for a free newsletter. I believe the first issue you will receive will be about the DFAST/5C/8VSB issue. Do a search at HTF for any set you are interested in for more info. and also at http://www.avsforum.com and http://www.hometheaterspot.com .
     
  6. Richard Driskill

    Richard Driskill Stunt Coordinator

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    I think Allen meant to say "compression" rather than "encryption". [​IMG]
    The "standard" for ATSC is set, but...... it's not a standard yet. Huh? It won't be an official standard until December 26, 2006 when it replaces NTSC. Up until that time, the present ATSC format has been accepted by the Grand Alliance of developers. It's not written in stone (but maybe hard resin?) until the switch, but the odds are it won't change at this point. Conversely, Los Alamos has been tinkering with another matrix that may be used as a transition between now and then, but I wouldn't hold my breath in it becoming real, as I don't believe there is enough time left to develope and deploy it under cost effective means.
    The good news is that if you purchased a true ATSC set (meaning a 16 X 9 screen aspect ratio and built in digital decoder), the odds are any changes that MIGHT take place in the present ATSC format, MIGHT be able to be upgraded via a software download to the set. The beauty of a digital set is that, just like a computer, the code MIGHT be able to be re-written via a download. The real limitations of a digital set are what the mechanical control limits are of the tracing system. At one point in the development of ATSC, there was a slot for 920i and 920p, but it was dumped due to the expense, thereby raising the overall cost of the set too much (and 1080i looks just great). "You" could go hog wild in resolution, but at what cost? Any product must be balanced by development/production costs versus the profit margin to be made, which of course includes the estimates on how many people will (could afford to) buy it.
    Allen is right on target and very helpful in suggesting any links that will give you more information on the subject. At this point I'm betting you've now been thoroughly bitten by the "A/V virus". [​IMG] Good luck, it's gonna be fun!
     
  7. Richard Driskill

    Richard Driskill Stunt Coordinator

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    Opps!, I meant 960i and 960p in the last post, not 920i or 920p.
     
  8. KevinLandry

    KevinLandry Extra

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    Richard......
    "When someone says "HDTV" and television" in the same sentence, they are talking about a ATSC set, which has a aspect ratio of 16 X 9, no if's, no and's, and no but's"
    I assume that you mean a "physical build" aspect ratio of 16:9.....yes?
    Does this then mean that somebody with a 16:9 HD-ready TV and a set-top box to complete the package does NOT have a HDTV?
    What about somebody with a 4:3 HDTV set that can compress to a 16:9 display area, thereby having BOTH a 4:3 AND a 16:9 set?
    I would argue that any screen capable of properly displaying any of the HD formats (1080i, etc.) in the PROPER aspect ratio of 16:9 has an HDTV, no if's, no and's, and no but's. 4:3 "physical build" HDTV's may suffer from "screen size envy", but that's all.
    K-
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  9. AllenD

    AllenD Second Unit

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    Richard,
    I'm only a newbie when it comes to HT, so I'm going to once again risk putting my foot in my mouth. I thought MPEG2 is the compression scheme used for HD (like DVD?) and any change in the encryption scheme, or system like changing to DFAST, is what would make current STBs obsolete. Is that right?
    Kevin,
    Don't you loose resolution when watching a 16:9 HD program on a 4:3 set?
    Any info would be greatly appreciated. [​IMG]
    Thanks
     
  10. Richard Driskill

    Richard Driskill Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Kevin,
    Gee, I grew up an Long Island. Are you anywhere near Lynbrook or Bay Park in Nassau County? If your in a sweet spot (like half way out on the North Shore, you may be able to get numerous ATSC transmissions in the long run; like from NY and Conn.)
    My quote: "When someone says "HDTV" and television" in the same sentence, they are talking about a ATSC set, which has a aspect ratio of 16 X 9, no if's, no and's, and no but's."
    Answer:
    1) Yes, that is what I meant.
    2) No, they do. I just would not refere to it as a "set" (implying the digital tuner is built in) though, in the conventional use of the word. I would call it a HDTV display and tuner. (I know that sounds picky or contradictory, but I'm pushing the point)
    3) There is no such thing as a 4 X 3 (the NTSC aspect ratio) HDTV set; HDTV is a specific matrix within the ATSC format. The ATSC format calls for a 16 X 9 display. There are NTSC sets that ALLOW high resolution images to be displayed on them; that does not make them ATSC sets, or, if you wanted to say, HDTV sets. It just allows the image to be displayed within the CONFINES of the NTSC set display. I never said you couldn't watch a HDTV signal on a NTSC based TV with the proper hardware. I was just saying it was not an HDTV.
    One last comment: For over a decade salesmen have been selling NTSC sets boasting resolution of 900 lines. The only person who could hope to view that rez would be somebody bring home a Broadcast mini-cam from work. The point? Just because they advertise a television as HDTV ready or HDTV compatible, does not make it a HDTV set. You will NEVER see a 4 X 3 set that has ATSC printed on it, and therefore, you will NEVER see that set with HDTV printed on it. If you find one, let me know, and I will detract my statement. (that does not include fluffy advertising stickers that you pull off)
    4) I disagree. See response #3.
     
  11. Richard Driskill

    Richard Driskill Stunt Coordinator

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    Allen,
    MPEG2 (Motion Picture Experts Group, 2nd revision) is the encoding used in both ATSC sets and DVD media.
    Ah, now I know why you used the word "encryption" when you did. Your talking about closed circuit television signals (cable). The DFAST scheme of encryption would require a certain type of port (firewire, I think?). There are a few ATSC sets that have them. But in general, IF you are tethered to cable (yiks!) then your outa luck if DFAST is deployed. (hint: go with satellite)
    DFAST has nothing to do with ATSC OTA transmissions, it is cable company based shenanigans.
     
  12. KevinLandry

    KevinLandry Extra

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    Richard.....
    Yes, I'm on the north shore of Long Island, about 1/2 way out, (Northern Lake Ronkonkoma) and I get all kinds of directions to point my antenna using antennaweb.com.....it actually has me pointing EAST to get CBS HD rather than West to the city.....
    I guess what I'm getting at is that right now there are 2 kinds of sets, ATSC and NTSC. And in todays world of high technology to place a stipulation like physical size on ANTHING is rather irrelevant. What I'm saying here is that it shouldn't matter where the electronic components are - in or out of the disp;lay cabinet....capability is capability.
    One last scenario. Take the 16:9 screen off of what you define to be a true ATSC set or HDTV display and tuner (RPTV) and replace it with a 4:3 screen of the same width. Is this set no longer an HDTV?
    I don't think we are very close to having ALL broadcasts digital....so, I think a true hybrid set (what we are talking about here) will be one that can display both signals, in their native aspect ratios, resolution, etc. correctly - whether or not the screen size is 16:9. These don't exist.....I thought that the Sony XBR series and the Panasonic Tau, to name a couple, accomplished this....no?
    I believe the 4:3 Panasonic Tau and the 16:9 panasonic Tau both have "HDTV 1080i" printed on them with the same stencil.
    On that 16:9 Tau......would you define it as an HDTV, once is is paired with a set top box?
    K-
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  13. Michael St. Clair

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    You know how the 16:9 RPTVs are (figuratively) made?
    They take a 4:3 RPTV with a squeeze mode for 480p and 1080i. They squeeze the image, then they get out the hacksaw. They cut off the top and bottom of the screen. They remove the ability to unsqueeze the image. The CRTs inside are still 4:3. The optics are still spherical. The image is electronically squeezed to 16:9.
    A properly designed 4:3 HDTV is 'real' HDTV, and frankly makes more sense for 90% of consumers. You are just getting extra top and bottom space, not losing any sides.
    Now of course some 4:3 Hi-Def sets do not have a properly engineered 16:9 mode. But some 16:9 sets are worse than the 16:9 mode on a 4:3 set.
    There is nothing magical about the shape. You just want a good design.
     
  14. KevinLandry

    KevinLandry Extra

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    This is exactly what I'm trying to convey to Richard.........and I think that the current purist/elitist definition of the HDTV is going to go the way of the Dodo.
    I say this, of course, with all due respect to Richard and others with similarly informed opinions. I just think that some are being a little too strict with their criteria - a "tomato" vs. "tomato" argument.
    K-
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  15. Michael St. Clair

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    Kevin,
    You nailed it. But it's a radical paradigm shift for many people. 'Wider' has to be better, right?
    Except what the majority of widescreen television sets are is 'ShortVision(TM)'.
    This fall Sony has the KP-61HS30 coming out. It's 4:3 but squeezes Hi-Def (480p, 960iDRC, 1080i) to a 16:9 ratio. 3:2 pulldown doubler, 3D comb filter, 2 tuner, etc. When you watch 16:9 anamorphic material on it, you watch a window that is 48.8 in x 27.4 in, or about 1337.12 sq in. Of course, when you watch 4:3 on it, you watch a whopping 2786 sq/in image.
    Or you might get the KP-51HW40. It is 16:9. It uses the same electronics, tubes, and optics as the KP-61HS30...just squeezed down into a shorter (and a bit narrower, even) screen. But when you watch that 16:9 anamorphic material on it, the screen is only 44.5 in x 25.0 in, or 1112.5 sq in. We won't talk about how small 4:3 material is on it.
    Guess which one costs more? You have to pay an extra $200 for ShortVision(TM).
    Want to guess why? I know. [​IMG]
     
  16. KevinLandry

    KevinLandry Extra

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    I FINALLY find someone I can connect with on this whole HDTV thing.....there's bloodshed over at AVS on this.
    That Sony sounds like a REAL nice TV - can't wait to check it out.
    The times, they are a changin'........
    K-
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  17. Richard Driskill

    Richard Driskill Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi again Kevin,
    Lucky you, with all the transmission possibilities. Ahhh Lake Ronkonkoma, didn't they have a roller rink out there at some point, or am I thinking of some place else? I know it's not too far from where I bought my limousine (United States Coachworks in Bohemia) in 1996. I also remember as a boy spending some time a little further out on the Northeast leg of L.I. at a place called "Port of Egypt", where we'd take a boat out on weekends.
    Anyway,
    1) It's not size I am debating, it's aspect ratio. Hell, I have a 7" diagonal flat panel 16 X 9 aspect ratio display/TV (which by-the-way, does not make it a ATSC set) on the front dash of my STS, which is without a doubt MUCH smaller than any 4 X 3 aspect ratio TV you might have for home viewing.
    Placement of the components is, in actuality, irrelevant. It is the nomenclature being used that I was challenging. Capability is capability, -all things being equal-. But, compliance to formal regulated design can not be breached and still attain full adherence, but rather is diminished to simple compatibility. Compatibility, in this case, is eluding to a trade off. A way to MAKE it work; not to make it work under the formal design, which includes EVERYTHING within said design. That includes having a 16 X 9 aspect ration display screen, and does not say: "Well, you can display the 16 X 9 image on a 4 X 3 display, and we'll call it ATSC also" (of which formal HDTV is a matrix of). No, that is not the case.
    2) Correct. It no longer has a true ATSC display screen, and therefore is no longer a true HDTV set.
    3) We are about 5 years and 9 months away from pure digital TV transmissions.
    In actuality, I have a ATSC set that is hybrid, as it also contains a NTSC tuner. Unless I'm misunderstanding you, most, if not all, ATSC sets are hybrid in this sense.
    4) If the Panasonic 4:3 set has "HDTV" or "ATSC" printed on it, I would like to see an image. If it has "HDTV 1080i" printed on it, that would be in reference to the set being able to display 1080i on the screen, but does not make the set a HDTV set. Here is a reverse example: You have a NTSC set. You plug a signal source into the composite input. You are watching a NTSC matrix controlled image (yuk!). You then plug in a signal source to the S-video input. What are you watching now? An NTSC image? No. You have circumvented the control of a great many NTSC parameters and are now watching the image in "monitor mode", where many of the restraints of NTSC do not infringe. Why do you think there is such an accute difference between them (other than signal division and purity)? Because it is a "different" display beast before your eyes. And that is why there is less of a jump between Component video and S-video (even though the signal is now divided into the 3 original signal paths and is as pure as it is going to get). It's still in monitor mode, ergo not a contrained NTSC display.
    Bottom line, you can "play" with things until the cows come home. Formal standards are formal standards, and hacks are hacks.
    5) If the 16 X 9 display is engineered to execute all trace in accordance with ATSC standards and you incorporate a ATSC tuner into it, then yes, it becomes a ATSC set (in your words). I would refer to it as a ATSC display and tuner.
    Kevin, I see you have strong feelings on the subject, as the same might be said of myself. I just wish to point out, that at no time do I wish to become inflammatory or hostile, which is not to say I accuse you of such. I just want to bring caution into this and point out there is the possibility of degradation of communications if bantered for too long.
    If you have additional questions or points not covered, I am willing to discuss them, and have enjoyed the conversation. I truely do not consider someone watching HDTV transmissions on a 4 X 3 set inferior, but rather that I extend that the purity of the ATSC design standard calls for a 16 X 9 display, if it is to be offically called a HDTV set. Since I am not a member of the Grand Alliance, I can only extend this information as informed opinion. Conversly, I am a retired Electromagnetic Spectrum Authority, so I tend not to talk out the side of my hat.
    I hope to hear from you on many subject going foward.
    Rich
     
  18. Richard Driskill

    Richard Driskill Stunt Coordinator

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    Michael,
    Funny stuff guy. [​IMG]
    Commonly, the optical projectors are refered to as "guns" not CRT's. CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) is more commonly used to describe a display type (direct trace, tube).
    Never implyed there was an "magic" to a 16 X 9 display.
    Never said wider is better. BUT.... wider is different, and wider does tend to more naturally accommodate viewing by animals with stereoscopic vision.
    "Shortvision", very cute. [​IMG]
    Marketing?
     
  19. KevinLandry

    KevinLandry Extra

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    Richard....
    Ronkonkoma.....I didn't grow up here - or even on Long Island, so I know very little Long Island geography that doesn't involve my immediate neighborhood, some Nassau and wine country. LI is quite a place.....I'm trying to convince my wife to leave. Its waaaay too crowded, has very little character (IMO) and not enough trees. But that's a different rant. I'm originally from Mass....but I want to keep going south.
    I have to say that I also have enjoyed this thread....and learn more with every post read and written. No flames here. Back to the debate....or possibly not. I guess I can probably stop part of the debate right here:
    I can agree that a 16:9 aspect SCREEN, etc. etc., not image is ATSC/HDTV as formally defined by whoever made up the terms......
    "But, compliance to formal regulated design can not be breached and still attain full adherence, but rather is diminished to simple compatibility. Compatibility, in this case, is eluding to a trade off. A way to MAKE it work; not to make it work under the formal design, which includes EVERYTHING within said design".
    Perhaps my point is capability / compatibility SHOULD be the formal definition, IMO.
    So in 5 years and 9 months....what would need to happen before then with regards to:
    Satellite infrastructure -
    Land Cable infrastructure -
    Existing consumer NTSC TV's -
    Enough time? -
    K-
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  20. Richard Driskill

    Richard Driskill Stunt Coordinator

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    Kevin,
    Opps! Didn't know that. just trying to be friendly.
    Gotcha, and understand where your coming from.
    Satellite: Not much in the way of effort because it's already a digital downlink (more bandwidth, less channels). The HDTV sat boxes are already out.
    Cable: A whole mess of cable companies are already going digital or already are digital. It's more efficient, more manipulatible, less stealable, and is needed to compete with the "Death Star" (what cable companies call DBS).
    NTSC: Nothing. The sets are getting cheaper and cheaper in an attempt to still sell them from the production lines. Conversely, ATSC sets are also getting cheaper and cheaper as they battle NTSC for sales and because more of the sets are being sold. Isn't competition great?!!!
    NTSC is history, as are all the sets (well, not all, if you get one of those cheapie ATSC converters), as of December 26, 2006 (if all goes as planned). That is another reason I tend to push ATSC. Why invest in a product that will disappear shortly?
     

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