Digital television for the masses
Apparently, I must be missing something regarding the explanation of switching from analog to digital television. I'm on disability, and my wife and I can't afford to buy a new digital tuner television. From what I've read, the analog signal will stop broadcasting in February 2009 when it switches to a digital signal. So basically, anyone that's poor will no longer receive a TV signal. What are we supposed to do?
Brad Dick responds:
Don't worry. The government's current plan for viewers without access to cable or satellite is to give them a coupon valued at $40. The coupon can be used to purchase a set-top converter box. That box will convert the new digital signals into analog ones your television can display. One benefit will be that you will be able to enjoy the extra channels that digital channels provide.
What's the big deal?
I don't see what all the fuss is about regarding the digital transition. Today, if the four major networks started inserting public service information about the transition during prime-time viewing, and did that for one year, they would reach off-air, cable, DIRECTV and DISH viewers — about everyone who watches television.
Anybody at the end of one year who doesn't know about the digital transition must never watch television.
The broadcast industry does not need the help of Congress, the NAB or anybody else. The industry has the tools to educate the public. Could it be that broadcasters are too busy reporting news that the public doesn't care about?
Where can I see an SED display? In your February 2006 column, “Quality-control monitors,” you discussed the latency problems with LCD, but you never mentioned the video processing delays in LCD or plasma displays. The delays in plasma monitors are a big problem, even in home receivers.
John Luff responds:
Canon and Toshiba planned to have an SED on display at CES in January. Canon was, however, in violation of a licensing agreement with a company that provided carbon nanotubes, which are part of the manufactured product.
As a result, Toshiba transferred all ownership to a Canon subsidiary, pending resolution of the legal issues. It is unclear when an SED display will be available for viewing, despite its promise for both consumer and professional applications.
The latency in LCD and plasma monitors is in large measure due to the scaling engines they contain, along with addressing and other internal processing. It affects all monitors where image scaling is needed, which includes most multistandard monitors today and certainly all flat panels.
HDTV in Canada
I've owned an HDTV-ready set since 2001, and I'm still telling people not to waste their money on HD for viewing television. My HD set is great for viewing movies, but there's far too much TV content appearing in a fuzzy 4 × 3 upconversion.
It's very disappointing. Will Canada ever see free-to-air HD?