It’s almost the opposite of HDTV – at least at this point — but television and other video content on mobile devices including cell phones has become a hot topic. According to many reports (including one from Internet World) , mobile video was the major buzz at the National Association of Broadcasters — NAB – conference in Las Vegas this week.
Lots of problems are cited as potential speed bumps in development: competing standards, small screens not formated for HD content, displays not capable of handling the dynamic range of sound and video used in most content. Still, early tests indicate that consumers are hungry for video on mobile devices, and lots of companies are rushing to meet the demand.
Indirectly, this development could have an impact on HDTV. If consumer demand moves to small, personal displays and away from large, group displays, it could alter the forecast production requirements for the larger displays. It’s too early to tell if mobile video will be instead of or in addition to other video, but it’s a movement worth watching.
Syntax-Brillian won the “LCoS RPTV of the Year Award” at the Annual China Digital TV Award 2006 event held last week in Beijing, China. The award was for the Brillian 65-inch 1080p rear-projection LCoS HDTV. Syntax-Brillian has also entered into a partnership with a company owned by the Chinese government to manufacture the LCoS imagers for use by Chinese television manufacturers. The joint venture hopes to be have volume production underway by this July.
China has a growing middle-class that has a voracious appetite for consumer goods, so display industry companies from Syntax-Brillian to Corning Glass are building plants and forming partnerships within that country. The resulting products are not just for export, but an increasing portion will be earmarked for China’s domestic market.
Confused about LCoS and the other HDTV display technologies? Check out Professor Poor’s Guide to Buying HDTV and find out which technology is best for you.
Jack Valenti is the former head of the Motion Picture Association of America, a group that was very concerned about protecting their copyrighted content. At the National Association of Broadcasters meeting in Las Vegas, his keynote address called for government “hands off” when it comes to censoring that content.
Valenti is heading a consortium of TV networks, cable, satellite, local broadcasters, and Hollywood studios that hopes to head off government controls on programming content with a $300 million campaign aimed at getting parents to supervise what their children watch. Part of the problem is that the FCC doesn’t have authority to censor cable or satellite programming.
Personally, I can understand how parents and others in Congress might be concerned about the programming content available these days. The “family hour” of 8 to 9 is no haven from content that some might find objectionable or inappropriate for young children. But I agree with effort to get parents to take responsibility for what their children are watching, just as they should know what music they’re listening to. This is where the decency standards should originate and be enforced. If you don’t like what’s on, change the channel. There certainly are enough choices out there.
Word is out that LG Electronics has started shipping their new MW-71PY10 plasma HDTV. The 71-inch 1080p resolution display weighs nearly 200 pounds (plus another 70 if you include the stand).
What does it cost? Well, as the saying goes, “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” Perhaps it helps to say that the suggested list price is just under $1,000 per diagonal inch. Yes, that works out to a round $70,000, which according to some sources, is about the average annual income for a U.S. family.
From where I sit, rear-projection displays have a distinct advantage when you get up to these large sizes. They weigh less, they have the same resolution, and they are about the same depth as the large plasma or LCD panel when you include the table-top stand. (The fact is that not a lot of people hang their flat panels on the wall; the weight makes it tricky, and then you have the difficult question of how to route the cables.) And perhaps most important of all, rear-projection can cost thousands less.
At the Trenton Computer Festival on Saturday, I gave a talk about “Will Your Next Computer be an HDTV?” Many of the audience members were interested in what I had to say about IPTV and some of my favorite sites for free video over the Internet. At their request, I’m listing the links that I mentioned in my presentation.
Sundance Film Festival Shorts: http://festival.sundance.org/2006/watch/index.aspx
Yahoo! video search: http://video.search.yahoo.com/
You Tube: www.youtube.com
Cinema Now: www.cinemanow.com
Philips made news this week with a U.S. patent that is intended to prevent users from skipping commercials. It’s not clear whether this is aimed at “realtime” broadcast, or at recorded content as you’d have on a DVR. According to a company statement, the point is not to force viewers to watch commercials; the technology is designed to let broadcasters charge a fee to let customers skip the ads.
Hmmm, pay to skip or be forced to include the commercials for free. It’s an interesting concept, and it’s not the last new wrinkle we’re going to hear about as content producers and broadcasters and advertisers try to figure out how to make money in this brave new world of television. On the one hand, I expect consumer resistance will be strong against any effort to limit the ability to skip over commecials. On the other hand, the piper is going to have to be paid one way or the other.
My prediction is that IPTV will eventually allow producers to target audiences so precisely that the viewers will be interested in the ad content, and won’t see the commercials as ads to be skipped. I also expect to see a lot more product placement within the programming, both subtle and not so subtle. The Mitsubishi-backing of MTV’s HD channel could be a bellwether example.
This Sunday, April 23, you can hear about HDTV and “Professor Poor’s Guide to HDTV” on Dave Graveline’s “Into Tomorrow” radio show. Jamie Bsales is a former Senior Editor with PC Magazine, and he edited the book, so he knows the content inside and out. You can listen to the show on the Web using streaming audio. The show runs from 2 to 5 PM Eastern time, and the interview with Jamie should be on around 4:30 PM.
See you on the radio!
Well, a high-density DVD target deadline has finally been met, and the Toshiba HD-A1 went on sale for $499 this week in the U.S. Reports indicate that supplies were slim and sales were brisk, in spite of the fact that there are only three movie titles available for the players.
This news means that we can finally say that blue laser DVD players are real products, and at least some people have been able to buy them. I still think that it’s too early to buy one, however. A number of “digital rights management” — which means copy protection – issues have not been settled yet, and I will be amazed if there aren’t some significant upgrades required over the next year or two. Unless you just have to have HD movies now – and you’re certain that your display and the player will be able to combine to show them in HD — then I think you’ll be better off to wait for the market to settle a bit, and competition can help drive down these astronomical prices.
A story in the Washington Post today reports that USA Network will start broadcasting coverage of Major League Gaming events later this year. The league organizes professional video game competitions, and now they will be televised. Professional video gaming? According to the Post, top players earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, so this is serious business.
What does this have to do with HDTV? There’s no mention of whether or not the programs will be broadcast in high-def or not, but that’s beside the point. If thousands of spectators are shelling out to buy tickets to these competitions, and if sponsors are looking to advertise around these events, then there’s some significant money involved.
The XBox 360 and the PlayStation 3 — when it eventually ships — can put out 1080p resolution images, and I expect that a lot of serious gamers are going to be looking for a big display on which to view their games. So I expect that a lot of these folk may use this as an added impetus to upgrade their existing TV to an HDTV model.
Q: I’ve been told that plasma TVs are better at up-scaling to their native resolution than LCDs. But after reading your book I’ve learned that both technologies use fixed pixel addressing. So how can plasmas have an advantage over LCDs in up-scaling?
There’s nothing inherent in the plasma technology that gives it an advantage over LCD, but there are some other factors that could come into play. Let me tackle that from two angles.
First, you are correct that both LCD and plasma are fixed-address pixel designs. To that end, a major difference in performance will be caused by the choice of “scalar”: the chip that does the processing. As a general rule, an inexpensive scalar will do less well at upscaling than a more expensive one. Chips by Genesis, Pixelworks, and Silicon Optix are some of the leading choices.
There’s also a sneakier effect at work. Many “high-definition” plasma sets aren’t HD. Many of the 16:9 aspect ratio panels have physical resolutions of 1024 by 1024, or even 1024 by 768. The first point is that these are not 16:9 aspect ratios, so they don’t use square pixels the way that almost all LCD panels do. Next, 720p resolution requires at least 1280 by 720 pixels. These plasma panel resolutions don’t have enough vertical lines to produce this resolution, so it’s not really fair to call them HD. But we do.
What does this resolution issue have to do with your question? The fact is that having fewer pixels per row means that the plasma panels don’t have to interpolate as much new data when upscaling. As a result, there’s less opportunity to make a mistake and introduce a visible artifact. So it may well be that SD content might look better on one of these “almost HD” plasma panels than on a “true HD” display.
Bewildered by the different HDTV technologies? Want an easy-to-read guide that helps you buy the best HDTV? Get “Professor Poor’s Guide to Buying HDTV” and avoid an expensive mistake.