Will HDTV be obsolete before it becomes popular?

We’ve been hearing about it forever, and it was supposed to become popular and then go down in price and then become pervasive.
But now I’m sure somebody has a plan to leapfrog it, with sooner/cheaper/better.
Any hint what would do that?

But what would succeed HDTV? At present I’m hard pressed to believe there’s more to television sets than an HDTV thin plasma tv. Other than 3D–or coming up with a new format with even higher level of detail than HDTV-- I really fail to see what possible advances could be made.

I’m not too savy on the technical details of HDTV, but it seems to me that it would be safe from becoming obsolete for at least 10 years. I’m judging by the way flat-screen is presently finding its way into homes and the introduction of DVD.

Consider the new disc format (blu-ray), it holds about 30 gigs on it, which apparently is about 2 hours of HDTV-quality video. So I think we can expect another media format before anyone scales up the level of detail that HDTV currently produces.

/two cents

I’ve had a HTPC (Home Theater PC) with NTSC and ATSC tuners, prokecting onto a 12-ft projection screen for over a year and I agree that I can’t see much reason to improve the video image. Then again, unlike many HDTV viewers, I’m not so snotty that NTSC is unwatchable to me on the same screen. It doesn’t look nearly as good, true, but if I don’t fixate on image quality, it’s passable. Maybe that’s because I was raised in the era of AM rock stations and staticky TV.

However, since the question was raised “what could replace it?” I have an answer. Like DVD, HDTV is compressed in MPEG-2 format, a relatively old format, as far as digital compression goes. We’ve already passed MPEG-3 (which is not MP3 - that’s more properly known as MPEG-1 audio layer 3 compression) and various flavors of MP4 are quite common among video enthusiasts. A 700 MB MP4 CD can contain an image that is indistinguishable (except on very close inspection) from a 4.7GB DVD image. This number can vary according to content, the specific compression codec, and its setting, but it’s a rough indication that digital video compression is a lot better today.

A couple of dozen of the newest DVD players already support MPEG-4, presumable almost all of them will in a year or two (some of the the cheapest, like Apex, use a broad format capability as a major selling point: it’s cheaper to burn fancier software than to make fancier and more durable hardware)

Of course, that has no direct bearing on HDTV, since DVDs provide a decoded output, but the ATSC DTV standards have a lot of flexibility built into them, and the FCC rules offer even more. Some channels are already broadcasting 4 ‘standard TV resolution’ digital channels over a single alloted HDTV channel’s worth of bandwidth. I would not be surprised if they were transmitting 4 HDTV resolution video channels (by which I mean 720p or 1080i, not the other 16 allowed resolutions) over a single allotted ATSC channel, once they get past the problem of getting source material in that format.

Few current tuners can even hope to be upgraded to MPEG-4. I’m not to worried because my HTPC is based on a PC that can already handle it easily, and tuner cards are cheaper than stand-along tuners.

I’m not saying this will happen soon. Video providers, like movie studios, are alreadyt antsy over HDTV being “too good” and trying to put locks and limits on it, especially for recording. Paradoxically, this may end up being an impetus to MPEG-4 broadcasts: if the cows are already out the barn door on MPEG-2, they might be able to get digital controls on the MPEG-4 gear. (a Bad Thing IMHO)

Using MPEG-4, one can get a better resolution (or more subchannels of independent video) in the same bandwidth or recording medium, so we wouldn’t need to wait for Blu-ray or any other enhanced DVD recording technology - not that we won’t develop those anyway.

I certainly understand your cynicysm. HDTV has been coming Real Soon Now for a long time. Some people way back when bought “HDTV ready” sets… but then the standard changed a bit so those weren’t so great. Since then, HDTV’s been slowly introduced (Apparently the CBC just started broadcasting last month).

Who knows. For such a tech-oriented guy, I only own a dozen DVDs - and now China claims to have something better with their EVD. Ironically, after a few codec installs, my 5 year old computer system can still play recent video files. Guess I’m just as cynical as you. :smiley:

HDTV is not really in demand. Digital TV is NOT HDTV.

Let’s look at this from the point of money $$$$$

If after a station converts to Digtial it can broadcast ONE program in HDTV or 5 digital programs. Which will it do? Of course 5 channels mean more ads more revenu.

For those not clear when TV stations go digital they can multicast. In other words broadcast 5 (sub)channels in digital format. Now if they want to broadcast HDTV, because it is so large they must use ALL 5 channels to broadcast that one HDTV show.

Can current HDTV sets accept uncompressed data from an external cable box or optical disk player? If so, upgrading to a newer compression standard is just a matter of replacing the receiver, not the whole TV.

Maybe, but your current TV is only capable of displaying 480 lines or maybe 520, depending on your location. That is a long way from the 720 or 1080 lines in HD.

To update my previous answer. Yes, current HD sets can accept uncompressed data. New HD receivers and some new DVD players have the DVI output which is for uncompressed data. Good luck on trying to find a DVI input on a TV more than 2 years old, and as soon as you try to make it work with a component input you have your compression.

HIGHER resolution? Cripes, during the Winter Olympics I could see one skater’s nether razor burn. I feel no need to know MORE about people’s hygiene. :eek:

I can’t wait for the closeup during the World Series on HD. I’ll be able to count the microbes in Derek Jeter’s pores. Or count Joe Torre’s nose hairs.

Heh, well IMHO it seems that everyone thinks HDTV is the highest resolution they’re willing to accept. Does anyone know what could possibly be done to improve a tv beyond 1080/HDTV/plasma ?? it looks like the end of the road for this type of technology, until 3D comes into play :wink:

I can think of one idea. What happens if you blow up an HDTV resolution to, let’s say, 10ft diagonal. Does the image noticeably suffer?

A good quality, true 1080i signal on a 10 foot screen should be very impressive, almost as good as theater quality to most people. The difficulty lies in finding a projector that’s capable of this resolution. Some high-end 9" CRT projectors can do it, as can projectors using D-ILA (digital image light amplifier) or LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) technology. Understandably, these are all very expensive. There are currently no LCDs or DLPs that can display it (they’ll accept the signal, but will downconvert it). Finding a true good quality 1080i signal is also difficult; my local PBS runs a demo loop on their HDTV broadcast most of the time; this was recorded in true 1080i and is very impressive, the pictures are of photographic quality. OTOH, HD shows on CBS look better than NTSC but are not of the same quality (this may be due to the film->HD conversion process, which apparently has room for improvement).

Getting back to the original question, HDTV should be good for years to come; the FCC moves slowly and would not set another standard in place so quickly after having such a hard time establishing this one. Additionally, it would probably be hard to convince the populace so soon that the new technology was superior. Think about this: why did DVD catch on so quickly, but hardly anyone has bought into SACD or DVD-A (both new audio disc formats)? Because, surround sound excepted, 99% of music purchasers can’t hear the difference between those formats and CDs. In addition, there’s no convenience difference (as there was between LP/tape/VHS and CD/DVD) and there are disadvantages (such as digital copy protection) with the newer formats.