For those of you who still don't believe in HDTV, go ahead and turn the page, because you're not going to like what I'm about to write. For the 95 percent of Broadcast Engineering readers who are open-minded enough to realize that HD is our future, read on.
The 2004 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) has just closed, and one of the two loud themes shouted from every corner was that HDTV is the future. The other CES theme was home networking, but that's another story. I'm on the mail list of key professional newsletters, which ensures that I receive information on developing trends and themes. In the 19+ years I've been at Broadcast Engineering, I've never received so many CES releases on a single technology. I've never received so many press releases from such a wide range of companies announcing support or products for a single technology, or describing such a range of new products and applications as I have this year. I'm talking about HDTV.
At last count, I'd received more than 75 announcements on new HD-centric products and applications from this year's CES — everything from new LCD and DLP HD monitors to dual-receiver HD sets, HD DVRs, HD home networking products and new HD silicon solutions.
One of the more interesting themes is the range of HD PVRs being offered. Many will store up to 120 hours of SD-quality material or up to 16 hours of HD material. For HD program junkies, it means you'll now be able to watch your favorite HD programs on your schedule.
The VOOM channel has announced its HD service, which includes 39 channels of high-definition programming. Twenty-one of these channels are completely commercial-free. In addition, subscribers receive 88 channels of digital SD television feeds.
DIRECTV is also offering additional HD programming. The satellite company just announced a deal with CBS to carry the HD feeds from WCBS-DT in New York and KCBS-DT in Los Angeles. The appropriate affiliate (East or West Coast) will provide CBS network HD feeds to customers that have subscribed to local service from CBS-O&O stations. FOX is expected to provide its programming on a similar basis.
The DISH Network announced a package that includes a 16:9 HD monitor, an HD satellite TV receiver, a satellite dish, home delivery and standard professional installation, all for less than $1000. A package of HD channels, including ESPN HD, Discovery HD Theater, HDNet and HDNet Movies is available for $9.99 per month or $109.89 annually. Other HD feeds include CBS, HBO, Showtime-HD and DISH-On-Demand pay-per-view HD movies. Customers can add the provider's new HD DVR for $600. The recorder provides 25 hours of HD storage or up to 180 hours of SD storage.
And, if that's not enough to excite your HD nerve endings, how about an HD DVD recorder? LG Electronics introduced the world's first Blu-ray recorder with built-in DVR. The recorder comes equipped with a 200GB drive, an IEEE-1394 connector, the prerequisite DVI with HDCP Hollywood protection, and built-in ATSC and NTSC tuners. Add a TV guide subscription and the viewer is fully equipped to record and store his favorite HD movies and network feeds.
So, for those few old dogs out there that still think HD is a solution looking for an application, I've got news for you. That killer app has arrived.