Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My Blog In Digital HD

I remember being a teenaged lad and heading to a drugstore on Center Avenue with a bag of television tubes. Remember how you could test your TV tubes on the “Tube Tester” to see which tube was bad? Then buy the replacement right there?

Nowadays, things are easier. Right? If the TV doesn’t work, either shell out big bucks to have a technician look at it or—more likely—just buy new. Our old Sony is sick. It occasionally hacks a load of static, almost like somebody with a bad case of croup. Well then maybe it would be a good time to consider buying one of those high definition big screen models since the digital age is nearly upon us.

You all knew that, didn’t you? By February 17th, 2009, if you don’t have a digital television, or a digital converter, you’ll be seeing a lot of dead air on your set. It’s part of a campaign to get everyone to update their entertainment technology and keep Best Buy and Comcast in the pink.

So I’m going to be ahead of the curve so to speak. But I’m doing my homework. If I’m going to spend upwards of a thousand dollars on a new TV, and some big screen models run several thousand dollars, I’m going to educate myself and be a smart consumer.

That was my plan.

Now high definition, or HD as we educated folks call it, comes in several types. There’s 1080p, 1808i and 720p. Researching further on just what would be best, I came across this in Wikipedia:

The ITU-R Recommendation BT.709 includes 16:9, colorimetry and the 1080i (1,080 actively-interlaced lines of resolution) and the 1080p (1,080 progressively-scanned lines). It also included the 1440 x 1152 HDMAC scanning format. 720p formats were strongly resisted by some ITU-R members and were not standardized there. Both 1920 x 1080 and 1280 x 720p (720 progressively-scanned lines), systems for a range of frame and field rates are also defined by several SMPTE standards.

Lost me there. But then I found out that there’s actually a book titled HD-TV for Dummies. Now we’re talking. Here’s part of what’s there:

Broadcast HDTV uses a system called 8-VSB (vestigial sideband), while cable usually uses a system called QAM (quadrature amplitute modulation). What’s the difference? What’s important to HDTV viewers is that you need a different kind of HDTV tuner to receive QAM signals than you do to receive 8-VSB (though many TVs include a tuner that can tune into both types of signals)."

Oh-KAY, lost me there too. Uh, maybe there’s an HD-TV book for the super dummy. Or maybe I can just pick out a TV that broadcasts a pretty picture right on the store shelf. So I tried that. One HD-TV I walked by looked the right size, the right price, and had a pretty picture. Just take it home and plug it in, right?

Well, the TV label said, “Inputs: HDMI w. HDCP Inputs – VGA PC Inputs – Multi analog inputs CVBS x 2/S-Video x 2/Component x 2.

Lost me again. But I see that nearly all HD-TVs seem to have these HDMI inputs. Must be the industry standard. So I talked to my local cable operator to make sure my cable system could hook up via these HDMI inputs. They can’t. Not directly, not now. Maybe in 1908. Right now I’d have to rent something extra called a DVR which a technician could hook up for me for a fee. Then there’d be extra charges for the digital channel line-up. Even more if I wanted it in high definition.

Oh, and I would have to purchase the necessary HDMI cable myself. The cable company doesn't supply that.

I predict another golden age of radio.


Blogger Kacey said...

Don't worry, Dave. We(being very old and not technological whizzes) purchased an HDTV two years ago and our cable company just takes care of everything for us. I predict that since the cable company cannot discriminate against welfare folks, they will be forced to provide the converter boxes by decree of the government. Where in the world would we put a zillion old TV's that have no more use? They would be considered ecologically verboten, so go ahead and by the one with the best picture and call your cable company.

7:11 PM  
Blogger simply me said...

Remember when you wanted to change the channel but actually had to like get up off the coach and turn this dial which had numbers on it like from 2 to 13, but some of the odd numbers didn't work. Ahhh, those were the days....I especially loved falling asleep with the TV on and waking up to the kaleidoscope wheel and the soft gentle sound of static.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

We have the same campaign here in Norway - now, Dave, I don't know if you're with me here, but since tv shows are eventually getting put to dvd after a season or two anyway, I'm sorely tempted to do with broadcast tv altogether.

Kindly kiss my gluteus maximus, digital upgrade!

5:32 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

I missed the word "away" in there somewhere.

5:33 AM  
Blogger Kacey said...

Gee Dave, When I said trust your cable company, I was thinking about our Buckeye-Express in NW Ohio. (They do our HDTV, computers and phone) They are wonderful and patient with stupid questions and fix things over the phone in a snap. However, here in Florida --- we have Comcast and they are a piece of crap. I can't have sunshine, blue skies and FOX News, too.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Wish you hadn't posted that Dave, we too are headed down the hd highway and I really don't fancy taking on board ANOTHER load of techno crap.

6:12 AM  
Blogger Nankin said...

Please don't tell my husband that old TV's are going away in 2009. He's looking for any excuse to buy a new one.

I really couldn't care, but I've kind of scanned them at Sam's (they're practically the first thing you see inside the door) and I'm not excited by all the extra costs for hookup.

We have at 100 channels, and I watch maybe 3 or 4.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Carine said...

Dave, my husband does all the technology research and purchases for obvious reasons. However,I have to admit, I am enjoying the hi def!

4:47 PM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Dave, WE bought our HDTV a couple of years ago and when we were with Comcast, we had to have a special convertor box, which cost extra, to make it work. Now that we are will AT&T U-Verse it is all included in the price of the cable and it is less expensive than Comcast.

Good luck trying to figure it all out.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Trucker Bob said...

So glad you posted this Dave, as I'm about to buy a new TV for here in the motorhome.

Now I've got to learn about satellite signals as to HD sets.

As Chimpy would say, I guess I'll have to go the Google.

8:24 AM  
Blogger poopie said...

Hmm..I'm in deep dodo come 2009. Guess I'll have to sing to myself for entertainment :)

1:32 PM  
Blogger Matty said...

Oh boy...we only have a normal 36" t.v...and it's due for a change.
Looks like I'll need to learn a lot in the future or bug my son a lot.
I still remember rabbit ears...and the real reason for wire hangers!

6:56 PM  
Blogger BeverlyM said...

I guess I'll be seeing alot of dead air.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Wow, a lot of those definitions lost me too. When we bought our big screen a few years ago, we made the delivery guys install everything--took them thirty minutes and they're supposed to be experienced. :o)

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Lord! You totally lost me as well. I SO do not understand any of this.
And as I read your entry, I thought exactly the same thing, "I have a feeling I'll be listening to a lot of radio."
Feb. of 2009 should be a very interesting time in most households throughout this country.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:54 PM  

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