High-definition TV has been available in the U.S. since 1998, but it is now gaining ground for two reasons: the government and flat-panel TVs. Both houses of Congress are advancing proposals that set deadlines at the end of 2008 or in 2009 for the broadcast industry’s transition to digital. Booming sales of flat-panel TVs have buyers willing to shell out fairly big bucks and thinking “future-proof,” which also gets them thinking about adding HD.
A hi-def picture is anywhere from five to 10 times sharper and clearer than an analog TV picture. HD changes the ratio of the picture from a boxy 4:3 to a widescreen, cinematic 16:9. So products and people look and even sound (thanks to digital surround) very different.
Proof: A well-known tech pundit publishes a very popular list of the best- and worst-looking celebrities in HD (www.onhd.tv). When consumers upgrade to HD they also tend to upgrade screen size, moving from an average 25-inch screen to a 50-inch, which makes a big difference (literally) in consumer view.
True HD transmission requires that the content be shot either with HD video equipment or with 35mm film. The content is edited and worked in HD, then transferred to a broadcaster for transmission.
Since the turn of the millennium, it seems that someone somewhere has declared each year “the year that HDTV takes off,” with most of that noise reserved for this year. Still, HD is likely to be adopted more quickly through the rest of 2005 and 2006 as flat-screen TV prices plummet. Look for real mass market potential by 2007 or 2008. –ADVERTISING AGE