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Old Aug 25, 2005, 12:18 PM
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fprintf's Avatar
Cheshire, CT, USA
Joined Jan 2001
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US: HD-TV rollout schedule... what happens next?

My analog television, a very nice 27" Mitsubishi tube TV from 1994 just decided that horizontal hold was no longer a requirement for viewing pleasure. Given that there is not any horizontal hold adjustment anywhere in all the menus or buttons and dials on this machine I have relegated it to the basement heap 'o stuff ready to be tossed at the earliest opportunity. Heaven forbid we'd be able to find a TV repair shop that could even say whether the bill would be $75 (min. charge for opening the set up) or $300.

So with that in mind we went television shopping last night. Keep in mind that we are regular TV watchers, yes we have cable but only basic cable at $13 per month. So first we steered toward the HD-TVs and thought for $500 we could get a nice tube TV that would play HD signals. But then we look over and see these sweet 32" flat screen LCD panels for the bargain price (seriously!) of $1999. Only $1999 is not the real cost of watching these panels, or even the HD-TVs... first I'd need to upgrade to digital cable. Minimum cost of $53 per month. Second there is the fee to rent an HD tuner/receiver. And *then* there is the cost of HD programming. Wow, this HD stuff is turning out to be an expensive proposition.

So we decided, like thousands of American's still do each month, that a plain jane regular TV, in our case a 27" Sony WEGA, for $331 is for us. Yes, we understand that we may have to rent a converter box in a few years when the analog signals are turned off. But I cannot imagine that due to FCC rules that millions and millions of TV sets will be obsoleted over the next two years, nor that they can mandate that those of us used to receiving analog signals will be required to pay in some fashion to continue watching television.

If I am wrong and my TV screen turns black in 2007 then all I have lost is $331 plus tax, but I have gained some time... maybe that nice 32" LCD will be $900 by then! But it'd sure be huge motivation to just turn the TVs off, cancel the cable contract and go buy a new toy or two with the money.

So what do you think will happen in 2007? Do you think millions of TVs will end up in the junk pile? Do you think cable companies will earn a new source of income by charging folks to rent digital-analog converters?
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Old Aug 25, 2005, 01:23 PM
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Mostly in Norman, OK
Joined May 2002
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Have you checked out OTA HD programming? No cost there, but you get the usual network programming. The only 'innovative' use here is PBS, which has started to do 4-programs-per-channel during the weekends (ie, 1HD or 4SD) - one runs kids PBS all day, the other local/politics/issues, educational/how-to, and arts/documentary. The other network channels usually just run weather/radar on the other slots.

We picked up a 26" Samsung 16:9 with built in HD tuner ~$450 at the local Target clearance last year, with DVI input it works great as monitor for XP-MCE hooked up to it. iirc, Sam's (local) carries the remainder of the 26" Samsungs for <$500 a pop. Using HD tuner card on other PC's.

So come 2007, what's the difference

fwiw you can get a pretty decent 32" LCD for around $1k these days, check up ben's bargain, tech bargains, slickdeals, fatwallet etc. - no HD tuner though.
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Old Aug 25, 2005, 08:05 PM
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union township clermont county Ohio, United States
Joined Jan 2001
159 Posts
HDTV roll out

Our 1987 Toshiba died in July of this year. We decided to bite the bullet and get a 42" plasma set with all the bells and whistles. The brand is LG and the picture is unbeliveable. The real problem is there are very few programs in HD. We have all the local stations in HD on our cable. The problem is they still broad cast in analog. So far the only sports I have seen in high definition are golf, YUK. and NASCAR double YUK. I have seen a preseason NFL game in HD great. You can see movies in HD on the networks with lots of comercials. There really isn't that much to see in HD on commercial broadcasts yet. Save your money, maybe the price of the sets will come down. I am sure the EPA loves the new TV's LCA's and Plasma's because they have no mercury in them.
George
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Old Aug 25, 2005, 11:04 PM
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Usta Bee's Avatar
Joined Jul 2004
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Well, chances are they're gonna have converter boxes for analog sets so everybody isn't up the creek.

As far as TVs go standard tube TVs are still your best bet as far as picture quality vs. price goes. You COULD get an high def TV, but in the 27"-32" size range its kinda almost not worth it, UNLESS you plan on upgrading to digital cable, high def satellite, or a few of your local stations broadcast a high def "over the air" signal. The problem with the "over the air" signal is that although it may be "free", ya gotta go to Radio Shack and buy yourself an outdoor antenna to pick up the signal, AND you've gotta buy a high def receiver too. Try telling someone they've gotta put an antenna outside their house and you'll hear "OMG, it's like the 1950's again !". For most people the best thing about a high def TV is the picture quality while watching DVD movies, because it's a lot better than on an analog TV (smoother, no visible scan lines). A lot of people that buy big screen high def sets don't even bother to upgrade to a high def signal, because of the price and the limited channel availibilty.

My thoughts on the types of sets available:

LCD: Good picture quality. Bright picture can be used in brighter rooms. Small sets often come with stands so you can take them outside. Easier on electricity and lighter in weight than plasmas.

Downsides- More expensive than tube TVs. Blacks can sometimes look like a muddy dark gray instead of a true black. Limited viewing angle, when you move too far off to the side the picture starts getting darker, or looking off-color.

Plasma: Usually excellent color rendition and picture quality. Looks really good on DVDs and high def signal.

Downsides- Most expensive. Heavier than an LCD, uses more electricity, and gives off more heat. Picture gradually gets darker as the TV gets older (like a flourescent light bulb). Lower contrast and brightness than a tube TV, so you can't use it in a really bright room. Blacks can look muddy gray instead of black. Lower brightness and contrast can sometimes mean the picture actually looks worse on an analog signal than a tube TV.

Tube TV: Bright contrasty picture. Good black rendition. Cheaper than LCD or plasma.

Downsides- Size and weight, a 36" flatscreen weighs around 300lbs. Picture focus can vary from center-to-corner and from corner-to-corner. Some geometric distortion of picture even on flatscreen models. Can't have magnets nearby, like unshielded speakers.
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Old Aug 25, 2005, 11:20 PM
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Sydney, Australia
Joined Aug 2003
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You can only rent the set to box in the US? Here in Oz they sell them and even though the digital/analog TV similcasting period is only just underway and there's plenty of time left before the analog shut off, the price has come down considerably, making them very affordable. More so if you only go for a SD converter. Also, I bet there will be a caveat in your FCC legislation about the Gov't having some ability to review the ultimate shut off date of analog broadcasts if the take up of digital services hasn't been strong enough. If that happens then you'll see Gov't subsidy of STB's to consumers to facilitate take up, ensuring that your Gov't gets the very valuable spectrum that is left over for roll out of new technology. In the UK, I think they gave the STB's away!

Your new TV won't be able to get the benefit of HD, but even digital SD with it's lack of interference and ghosting and other problems that you get from analog broadcasting is really great. All up, I reckon you've gotten yourself an excellent TV viewing platform for by far the best cost that you'll be able to use for years.
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Old Aug 25, 2005, 11:35 PM
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You can buy the decoder boxes in the U.S., problem is you've still gotta pay for the signal if its through cable or satellite. "Over the air" signal is free, but in most cities you're limited to PBS and maybe 2-3 major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC), and the major networks usually only broadcast a limited selection of primetime programming in high def and a few afternoon soap operas. Our local CBS station added a "digital" over the air channel, but it's "standard definition" programming not high def, they've been too cheap so far to upgrade their equiptment to transmit high def.
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