HDTV on a roll at CES

HDTV displays were among the major stars at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Screens got bigger and better, and prices got smaller as the competition for new models multiplied.

The supply of HD content, however, is still playing catch-up. Short of some expensive new combo workarounds in both hardware and software, the HD optical disc format war has continued unabated into 2007. Neither the Blu-ray nor HD-DVD camp showed much interest in finding a compromise, oblivious to the threat that consumers could reject both formats.

Still, cable, satellite and telco companies signaled they’re onboard to provide as much HD content as they can get. Virginia Ruesterholz, president of Verizon Telecom, told the National Journal that her company’s fiber-optic television service already carries as many as 30 HD channels, and “we’re trying to get our hands on more.”

Patrick Esser, president of Cox Communications, predicted that within three years, 70 percent of Cox’s TV customers would be watching HD programming.

With new satellites, DirecTV said it’s on track to bring 150 HD channels to market in 2007. That would make the service the largest provider of HDTV. Among the additions will be HD versions of The Weather Channel, USA, CNN and the Food Network.