What you really need to know about HDTV

I see so many videoholics mouthing off about HDTV not teaching anyone what really matters that it pisses me off.

Here's some things I've learned now that I've bought my screen.

1) Size does matter. When I got my 50-inch home Maryam said two things: A) "Why did we wait so long?" (Cause you freaking wanted a stove instead of a screen!!!) B) "We should have gotten the 60 inch." (I took back the 50 inch and got the 60 and now the 60 is starting to look small). Lesson, get the biggest screen you can. Even if it's too big for your room.

2) Resolution. The marketing makes it sound like you want 1080p. The problem is nothing supports it yet. My Sony screen is 1080i. My HD-DVD is 1080i. My Xbox 360 is 1080i. The Sony camcorder Microsoft bought me is 1080i. The new Panasonic I'm getting is 1080i. And, when I went to CES I compared 1080i with 1080p and didn't see that much of a difference. Truth is if you buy a $4,000 screen you'll get 1080i today. At the end of the year you'll get 1080p (although Sony raised its prices on its "p" screens). 1080p promises a smoother image on rapidly moving content. But, 1080i is stunning. Absolutely stunning.

3) The DVD player you have matters. My Xbox has a DVD built in. But my HD-DVD is much sharper, even when playing regular old DVDs. Why? It has a better "scalar" built in. Make sure your is a scaling DVD. Go onto the forums and do some homework.  

4) Look at the resolution of your screen. Most stores only show low res HD on their screens. It makes all the screens look good, even cheaper ones. But, get them home and only screens that truly support 1080i or 1080p look good. My screen blows away most that my friends have. But in the stores they look about the same. Be careful buying stuff just by what it looks like in the stores.  You want one that says it supports at least 1920×1080 native resolution. Like the one I bought

5) Be prepared to be in debt. My screen? $3,799 at Best Buy. My HD-DVD? $500. My Xbox? $400. Cables and accessories? At least $300. Make sure you price shop even AFTER you buy your screen. I saved $600 by walking into Best Buy 29 days after I bought my screen to check the price.

6) Be prepared to be frustrated over lack of content. Comcast in Seattle area is pretty good — I hear it's a lot worse in most parts of the world. But, you'll find yourself watching the stupidest things simply because they are pretty. Like Discovery Channel's Sunrise Show.

7) Learn about cables. My TV has two HDMI connectors. I needed to get a new cable for my Xbox that supported HDTV (Xbox doesn't yet support HDMI, which makes me wonder if they'll come out with a new version soon that will). I had to get a new cable for my Comcast Cable box (it supports HDMI, which looks a lot nicer than the other kinds of cable I was using previous to getting the HDTV). Also my HD-DVD came with an HDMI cable.

8) Get surround sound and spend some money on your audio equipment. I already had a great surround sound system so didn't need to worry about it. But, lots of my friends don't have surround sound systems and it really makes a difference. Even moreso with a good HD set. I don't know why, but regular TV sounds a LOT nicer on my new TV than on my old one, even though my audio equipment hasn't changed. The audio tuner in the new TV is a LOT better and supports surround sound much better.

What else should people worry about HD?  

HD DVD, why it sucks might not be why you think

Audioholics wrote about why HD-DVD has already failed.

I have an HD-DVD. I spent my own $500 on it. I also bought a $4,000 HD screen from Sony (it's a lot sharper than any of the screens my friends have). So, that makes me an expert on HD. Heheh.

But, Audioholics totally is wrong about HD-DVD.

Let's take on each point.

1) No one likes false starts. This is bullshit. When I bought my first CD, there was only 100 CDs at Tower Records. And all the "audiophiles" said the format sucked. I remember those guys — I sold audio equipment to geeks in Silicon Valley and they'd come in and debate me about why vinyl is a superior format. I told them they were smoking good dope. CD's quietness would beat any of Vinyl's superiorness and I turned out right. Same will go for DVD-HD. My friends come over, I put on a HD-DVD and they are amazed. Even Chris Pirillo and Ponzi.

2) Format wars don't sell players. They are right here. I bought HD-DVD because it was half the price of Blueray and there are already more titles at the local Best Buy.

3) The new formats are not stunning leaps forward in tech. I think this is the biggest bullshit comment (see, I can swear now that I'm leaving Microsoft). Anyone who comes over and watches an HD-DVD says "wow." It's HUGE difference in sharpness over previous DVDs.

4) Studios are greedy, unmotivated, etc. Yeah. Agreed. The reason I tell my friends NOT to buy HD-DVD is all due to the studios. They haven't released any movies in either format yet. They are stupid. But, what will their stupidness cause? The increasing rise of Bittorrent!!! Why? Cause assholes like me with $4,000 screens aren't gonna put up with this forever. We're gonna look for content and if the studios don't get on board FAST I'm gonna go elsewhere. Calling Steve Jobs!!!

5) Playstation 3 can't save the world. Well, I agree there. I already bought an Xbox360. You think I'm going to buy another console just to get another format? You're smoking good dope!

6) Ignoring history. See #4. If you don't get me content, I'm gonna find it anyway. I can only watch so much of Discovery Channel's Sunrise Channel before I'll get bored.

7) That people like new tech but are confused by it. When you get your HDTV home, you gotta make changes. You'll need to buy a new DVD player (your old one, if it doesn't upscale to HD resolutions) is not gonna be good enough. You'll need to make sure you find the HD content on your cable box. Even if you have Xbox 360 you'll need to get the HD cable and make sure to switch it to "HD." (A coworker didn't have it on for months until it was pointed out to him and it made a HUGE difference).

8) Enthusiasts are getting tired and smarter. Oh, I'm not tired yet of wasting my money. But, we definitely are hooked into a smart community. That's a HUGE change.

9) A skeptical media doesn't help. This is TRUE. Do you know WHY they are skeptical? When I was a the local TV station I asked when they were gonna be HD-compatible (they aren't yet). Turns out in 2007 and they are PISSED. They wanted to buy a new satellite truck, but instead, will have to buy new HD equipment and cameras. Not cheap or easy. They are gonna drag their feet as long as possible.
10) Broadband and IPTV to compete. Hey, I thought these were the same thing. Actually, I got a tour of the IPTV facility Microsoft built down in Silicon Valley. They ARE the same thing, albeit IPTV means that the phone company is gonna bring you 30 megabit DSL lines to your house. What does that mean? Four continuous channels (soon six) of HD. Imagine watching a baseball game with four windows — all in HD, all at the same time. Now THAT will blow away HD-DVD!!

So, what sucks about HD-DVD. Not the resolution. Not the number of titles (although that does suck right now). Not the technology. What sucks? The freaking price!!!

I can buy a scaling DVD for about $100. But the HD-DVD cost $500. Sorry, that's prohibitive for most people. When it comes down to $200 wake me up. Until then it'll be a failure. If I had an extra $500 right now I'd buy an Xbox, not HD-DVD.

Why do I say that? Cause Xbox Live delivers more HD content right now than HD-DVD.

Like I said, it's all about HD. Pay attention studios, you are about to get shaken up! More on this topic on Memeorandum.

Let’s repeat: everything is about HDTV

I don't know why we keep dancing around these facts:

When you hear about dark fiber, it's all about HDTV.

When you hear about DVD disk formats, it's all about HDTV.

When you hear about video game consoles, it's all about HDTV.

When you hear about video advertising schemes, it's all about HDTV.

When you hear about Network Neutrality (or lack thereof), it's all about HDTV.

Let's go over this again. Why is Google (and others) buying up dark fiber? It's not to distribute more email to you. That won't increase the load on the Internet. It's ALL about HDTV. Well, OK, those server indexes are pretty big, Don Dodge is right, but really, they will be dwarfed by HD files. I am getting a Panasonic HD camcorder. The files it records will be gigs per hour. Gigs!

I want to get them to you.

How will that happen?

Wifi in planes horrible business

Looks like Boeing is giving up on Wifi in planes because they've lost a billion and don't see that their investment will come back. Funny, didn't JetBlue just pay big dollars to add that to all their planes? 

I used the Boeing service on an SAS flight to Copenhagen and loved it. The problem wasn't with the Wifi. But there was a major problem elsewhere that'll keep people from using it: power.

My batteries in my laptop (and in most laptops I see on planes) last about two hours. Yeah, some models last four to eight, if you have additional "big" batteries. But most last about two hours the way you buy them out of the store.

So, how do you get power on the SAS flight? You have to buy a $250 upgrade each way. Prohibitive for most people. I actually tried to upgrade cause I wanted to do some work. Turned out those seats were sold out in both directions.

Long and short of it is that we aren't going to see Wifi in most planes anytime soon.