Q&A: CEA HDTV Committee Chair John Taylor of LGE

John Taylor, vice president for public affairs at LG Electronics USA, chairs both the CEA’s HDTV Committee and the Plasma Display Coalition, is a board member of the ATSC Forum, and a founding member of DTV Transition Coalition Steering Committee. He spoke with HD Notebook on the eve of CES:

HD Notebook: There seems to be a growing awareness and preference among consumers in recent months toward 1080p, despite the technology, and style. This is being touted heavily this week at CES.

Taylor: Yes, so called “Full HD” 1080p displays are indeed a hot trend. In fact, at [CES], LG Electronics is introducing four series of plasma HDTV and eight series of LCD HDTV. The majority of models in our 2008 line are 1080p (6 out of 8 plasmas and 17 out of 24 LCDs). The LG line-up is all about the fusion of form and function, performance and premium features.

High-definition is everywhere. The year 2008 marks a dramatic shift from nondescript flat panels, to big displays that are as attractive when turned off as they are when on. Advances include 120 Hz technology, 30,000:1 contrast ratios and 100,000-hour panels. Complementing nearly three dozen new HDTVs are new premium home theater audio systems (ours are tuned by Mr. Mark Levinson) and dual-format [video disc] players. And while not HD, the new coupon-eligible digital-to-analog converter boxes for the DTV transition, one of which will be sold under our Zenith brand, will be very important products over the next 13 months.

HD Notebook: Last week you and Netflix announced a joint venture for feeding movies on a special LGE-produced set-top box. Might this eventually include HD content?

Taylor: Yes, we and Netflix announced a technology alliance to bring streaming movies and other programs to HD [sets]. This builds on the current Netflix model of streaming movies to PCs, but in this case, an LG-networked device will handle the streaming to maximize the home theater experience. And Netflix indicates the service will include high-definition in the future. The LG player will be able to handle multiple levels of resolution—including 1080p, 1080i, 720p and 480p.

Notebook: What are your thoughts as we rapidly close in on the one-year mark before the DTV transition next February is finally complete?

Taylor: We’ve come a long way in the decade since HD was officially introduced at CES 1998. Walk the floor of CES 2008 and HD is everywhere—literally hundreds and hundreds of models all presenting glorious lifelike images. As the broadcasting and consumer electronics industries move toward the successful conclusion of the DTV transition, TV stations and networks should be proud of driving this exploding marketplace with an amazing array of compelling programming.

HD Notebook: And after HD, the ‘next big thing’?

Taylor: The next big thing for broadcasters, manufacturers and consumers is mobile/handheld digital television. CES 2008 is now the launch pad for the first products incorporating technology for ATSC-compatible mobile DTV, which is expected to be launched by broadcasters in 2009.