ASUS got a lot of press coverage this week (including a number of blogs) that breathlessly drooled over their new T1 line of 1080p LCD HDTVs that “double as LCD monitors” for use with computers. Huh?
Yes, these are HDTVs, available in 22″, 24″, and 27″ sizes. Yes, they have digital tuners and HDMI connectors, along with S-Video and composite connections. And they have a remote control. Many of the articles covering them pointed out that these sets support both DVB-T and PAL/SECAM signals, but none that I found pointed out that these tuners would be useless in the U.S. where we only have ATSC digital signals. (DVB-T and PAL/SECAM are the standards for digital and analog broadcasts in Europe.)
But that’s not what has me scratching my head. These articles all seem to make a big deal about the fact that these sets can also be used as a computer monitor. Excuse me, but that’s not a big deal at all. Lots of digital TVs have a VGA connection designed to work with most computers. And if your computer has a DVI-D connector, you can connect that to any HDMI connector on a digital TV. Heck, even my five year old Epson LivingStation has at least three ways that I can connect to a computer (and it has been connected to a computer for some time now).
This puts me in mind of a story that I read somewhere about one of Winston Churchill’s speeches. He apparently wrote notes to himself in the margins of his speeches, and on one of them, he wrote the following (or something like it): “Weak point here; bang desk HARD!” I guess that works for marketing technology products, too. If you’ve got a product that is not much different from the rest of the pack, take an unremarkable feature — such as a TV that can be used as a computer monitor — and make it sound extraordinary. This is why consumers need to make an effort to educate themselves before they make a purchase, and not be misled by some marketing ploy.
Note: This is the 995th entry in the HDTV Almanac. Writing five entries a week, this means that the 1,000th entry is scheduled to appear one week from today. It has taken me quite a while to reach this point and it feels like quite a milestone. And I will tell you that I hope to have some special news to announce in that entry that breaks the four-digit mark. So please stay tuned….