Thursday, September 22, 2005

My New HDTV Gets Thumbs Up

I finally took the plunge. I am now the proud owner of one of those new-fangled high definition TV sets, or HDTV.

Although I’m into gadgets of all kinds, as I recently wrote about, I am not one of the early adopters. I probably would be if I were rich, but I have little choice but to wait until the price drops.

I had been shopping around for an HDTV for a couple of years. I often dropped by one of the appliance stores in Greenwood to drool all over their giant flat panel HDTV systems, hoping the price of one of those big 52 inch models would eventually come down to, say, 400 dollars or so.

Ok, so I was dreaming. Even the projection models, which generally have a less than stellar picture quality when viewed at oblique angles, are still well above 1,000 bucks.

But I lucked out a couple of weeks ago when I was shopping around for a new washer. I not only found a floor model washer on clearance, I found my HDTV as well.

While in the store buying my new washer, I couldn’t help but stroll through the TV section. There on the shelf I saw a nice 34 inch HDTV with a price tag of 599 dollars. I couldn’t believe my eyes, so I called the salesman over to ask what the deal was.

He told me it was a floor model, sold without a manual or remote. He also told me that since I also had bought the washer, he would throw in the TV for only 500 dollars. I couldn’t pass it up.

I bought a universal HDTV remote control for 20 bucks and looked up the owner’s manual on the Internet. I had bought a 34 inch HDTV for a grand total of 520 dollars, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

One of my brothers already had an HDTV and I don’t mind admitting I was a little jealous. But his is only a 32 inch with a square screen, whereas mine is a 34 inch oblong screen. Now it’s his turn to be jealous.

Unfortunately, not all regular TV programs are broadcast in the new high definition format yet. Most of the regular primetime filmed series are. Most of the programming on PBS is in HD. But, like the early adopters of color TV in the 1950s, we HDTV owners will have to wait a couple more years before everything is broadcast in digital.

Originally, the plan was to pull the plug on standard analog TV broadcasts by the end of 2007. But since less than 85 percent of the population will have access to digital broadcasts by then, Congress will push that date back.

I predict it will be late 2009 or so before all broadcasts will be digital. At that time, all the standard analog broadcasts will end and anyone still using a standard TV will have to either trash it and replace it with a new digital TV or buy a set-top converter box that will convert digital reception into the old analog format.

All HDTV signals are broadcast digitally, but all digital broadcasts are not necessarily HDTV. Digital is superior to analog, but HDTV offers twice the number of lines of resolution as standard TV. Many HDTV broadcasts also have CD quality 5.1 surround sound.

I may not have been the first person on my block to own an HDTV, but I have one now. And the high quality picture and superior sound is enough to make me consider becoming a couch potato.

Now, where did I put that remote?

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