Improving choice and quality important for HDTV growth

Findings from DisplaySearch's HDTV Conference indicated that the next step for the HDTV industry is one of refinement and improving choice and enhancing quality is the next step for continued HDTV industry growth.

"HDTV has simply become TV, with nearly every consumer either owning or understanding the benefits of HDTV and desiring to become an owner," noted Paul Gagnon, DisplaySearch Director of North America TV Market Research. "As HDTVs become mainstream, the TV supply continues to benefit and prosper. The outlook for growth is still very positive, but it is critical that the industry continues to focus on refinement."

The conference also found that the transition to HDTV is well under way, and many households are now watching their favourite programs in HD. However, there still remain a substantial number of homes that do not yet enjoy HDTV, or other rooms in the homes of HDTV owners that can be upgraded—leaving a substantial market opportunity. Content and distribution are expanding the selection of HD programming, further encouraging the adoption of HDTVs.

The overall adoption of digital downloads is growing but remains fairly low in comparison to other methods of consuming video. Also, the number of devices that can play back digital downloads is increasing, with game consoles, standalone set-tops, and BD players now part of the mix.

As DisplaySearch's Paul Erickson pointed out during the event, a primary limitation is broadband—both penetration and speed—and that it will be some time before digital downloads catch on as mainstream consumers shift their disc-based consumption behaviour gradually.

The ongoing conversion from analogue CRT TVs to digital flat-panel sets has created challenges and opportunities for audio, primarily led by the commoditization of TVs, which leads to compression of profits and thus costs. The consensus from the audio session indicated that algorithms and technologies from SRS Labs, Dolby and others will continue to enable higher quality audio performance for consumers, and audio electronics suppliers—such as Analog Devices and Cirrus Logic—can implement these approaches. Left unresolved was what form the end-products would take, and who in the value chain would benefit from these changes.

Many consumers are now aware of the DTV transition, but some are still unclear what to do. Issues like how to properly set up a digital converter box and ensure a proper antenna still need to be addressed in the few remaining months.

For connected TVs the dreams of the industry about HD via broadband will remain dreams, until the infrastructure is improved. However, there are increasing demands from consumers for new connected applications and these are evolving rapidly.

Separate research reveals that 72 percent of US consumers utilize cable TV, and internal research indicating that tru2way TVs' cost and simplicity were the two features that appealed most to consumers.

The development of television is moving away from just display technology into design and seamless usage experiences, the conference heard. The new display technologies lower power and versatile form factors promise new usage patterns away from just passive viewing.

Held in Los Angeles, the conference featured two days of content-rich presentations from executives representing all sectors of the HDTV industry, including TV, A/V, HD hardware, service and content providers, as well as movie studios, broadcasters and game companies, discussing the most pressing issues facing today's HDTV industry.