Getting High

A few weeks ago, I was transferred to the ‘Video Services’ team while our company-wide restructure continues on into its ninth month. This transfer is part and parcel with the braindump we’re doing after my recent trip to IBC and has the potential to get my darling Wife ‘into’ TV enough to let me finally get that HD Flat Screen mounted on the wall I’ve been looking forward to since running the draw wires during our renovations.

Now – I’ve had my head in the TV space for a number of years, yet – despite broadcasters overseas recognising the benifits of HD to the viewing experience, broadcasters here in New Zealand seem to be playing something of a mexican stand off to see who will run with High Definition (HD) broadcasts first. It’s unlikely to be forced by our government who’s plans are still at a ‘wait and see’ stage, but the emergence of Freeview in New Zealand in 2008 should at least level the playing field for broadcasters who would liketo offer up HD.

I have my own opinions on this, and as some some of them are formed from knowledge of the industry (which obviously I’m not discussing in a public forum), but the up shot it, from overseas trends alone HD is coming, and my next TV will need to support it. (Well, okay it doesn’t need to support it, but my Wife has given it a thumbs up after I explained she could use a new HD screen to run her presentations off for our new business.

So anyway, the next step is to do some research, pick through the Digital Home magazines we subscribe to at work – and buy an HD TV.  I’ll update this entry as I find more information which proves useful in the New Zealand market.

Update 11/12/2006:

Ahh the tyranny of technology – just as you’re almost ready to make the jump into new capabilties – something new and more exciting is ‘just around the corner’. The specs for HDMI 1.3 have just been released and are discussed here. So now I’m torn – should I buy now, or wait for the new features such as:

  • More complete HDCP support (read: compatibility with poorly implemented ‘other’ devices)
  • Double the HDMI bandwidth (new audio formats)
  • Automatic lip-syncing
  • 30-bit colour (less banding between colours/better gradients, better contrast ratio, better ‘shades-of-grey’ representation)

It’s all pretty compelling stuff and gives me even more reason to lurk in the HDTV Discussion forums where I’ve been hanging out for the last month or so (still haven’t caught up but meh… never will). Digital Home - HDTV Resolution / Viewing Distance Chart

One of the best finds from the forum was this chart which shows at what point you actually get benefit (as opposed to bragging rights) from your xx” HD Display. YMMV of course (oh, sorry – that’s Your Mileage May Vary – ref: the L33t Sp34k post) but there’s also threads which I have in favorites on some relevant themes such as a HDTV buying discussion, Which Plasma to Buy, as well as an assortment of threads discussion the pitfalls and virtues of 720p vs 1080i vs 1080p vs Whatever-comes-next.

Update: 22/01/2007

Well, I’ve had enough friends and family ask me what kind of screen they should by to warrant another update to this posting. One of the big gotchas about buying a ‘HD’ display is what different manufacturers (and marketers) call High Definition (HD). The difference between true HD (as per the resolutions in the table below), and HD Ready need to be understood and challenged when making your purchase decision as their may be ‘economies of truth’ in the description of the sets capabilties.

Format
Resolution / Scan Type / Aspect Ratio
1080p
1920×1080 / Progressive / 16:9
1080i
1920×1080 / Interlaced / 16:9
720p
1280 x720 / Progressive / 16:9
720p50
1280×720 / Progressive / 16:9
576p
720×576 / Progressive / 16:9 and 4:3
576i
720×576 / Interlaced / 16:9 and 4:3

I’ve also included Standard Definition (SD) in italics for completeness. Obviously there are different scan rates but this is a rough guide, if you’re that keen you’d be checking out the Wikipedia entry wouldn’t you!

Update 13/04/2007

At what distance resolutions matterFollowing my recent discovery of the ‘Coolness Roundup’ podcast, there’s a new graph created by Carlton Bale from his post “1080p Does Matter“ which you may find useful.

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