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 HDTV. Emperors new clothes or a true revolution?

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PostSubject: HDTV. Emperors new clothes or a true revolution?   Sun Aug 05, 2007 9:06 am

Like everyone, I am a sucker for a brand new piece of kit. And when the HDTV revolution was first mooted, I was as excited as everyone else to be able to see a picture so detailed that I would be able to make out individual strands of Jennifer Lopez' grey hair. Or to see colours so rich and vivid that I would never go back to watching a standard definition TV. In between the launch, I tried to get my head around what was better. 720p or 1080i. I tried to work out the difference between a plasma screen and LCD screen.

(The main difference, apparently is in the contrast ratio. In essence the contrast ratio works out the ability of your screen to display the colour black. As a yardstick, the truer the black, the better your screen is in terms of the different contrasts between the different colours. If you have a Plasma, that has a contrast ratio of 10000:1, apparently, you have done well. By comparison, a cinema screen will have a contrast ratio of 6000:1. In a darkened room only. The ratio gets worse the lighter the room. Because LCDs and cathode ray tubes display pictures in a different way, contrast ratios don't apply to them. They produce perfect blacks.)

And then came the incredible prices of these TVs. And then the different connections. HDMI, composite, Digital AV, the list goes on. And then another hammer blow. To get a HDTV picture, you have to have a HDTV source. And as of now, only Sky and Telewest transmit HDTV signals. And only for a handful of channels. So you can forget about counting the hairs on Jennifer Lopez' top lip. At the moment you can only count John Terry's thigh hair (Sky Sports HD), leaves on a eucalyptus tree (National Geographic HD) or the hairs on Homer Simpsons head (Sky One HD). And you know the real kicker? Standard TV signals will actually look worse on a HDTV than on a normal TV!

But I knew that before I bought my Samsung. Now that I have joined the HDTV revolution, invested in a HDTV cable and can 'play my Xbox the way developers intended', I actually feel cheated. Maybe I had an awesome TV before, but the picture on my HDTV does not actually look very much better. Certainly not 700 better. I mean, aesthetically, the TV is awesome, but I think it is wrong to be more impressed by how the TV looks, rather than the picture it produces.

Does anyone else feel that the HDTV scene is really just a high street rip-off ploy?
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