I think it was more than seven years ago at CES when I saw HDTV for the first time. It was on W-VHS tape from JVC. Since that time it seemed like the whole HD changeover has been moving at a snails pace.
I have felt disappointed with the limited programming available from broadcasters, and I still hate the motion artifacts that are common due to compression on just about every broadcast HDTV sporting event. This long wait coupled with format confusion and limited programming has made the move to HDTV a pain in the neck. I have often said that HDTV would not take off until we had a playback format for the home.
Well, now is the time to celebrate a milestone in home theater history. I just purchased one of the first HD DVD discs available on the market. I got it at Best Buy where I saw about 10 HD DVD titles on the shelf starting at $21.99.
And more good news…as I check out the back of these new discs, I see that they have been mastered in 1080p! Thats 1080 progressive scan, the best picture resolution that HD has to offer. Think of 1080i as a mere 540 lines of resolution interlaced twice per frame. Progressive is the real deal. With the arrival of 1080p the days of seeing pixels and scan lines on big screens in home theaters have come to an end.
Toshiba HD DVD players are already available for about $499 and Blu-Ray players will follow shortly. These Toshiba players will soon have a firmware upgrade for their new HD DVD players for 1080p. Sonys Blu-Ray players will soon be available with 1080p also included. These HD DVD images blow away any high-definition pictures that we have seen from HD satellite and cable HDTV. From now on, this will be the professional resolution by which all home theater pictures will be measured.
But what good is a 1080p player without the right HDTV to watch it on? Rejoice! Video displays with 1080p are also here now and ready to begin playing these new discs. Having both players and TVs available at this 2 megapixel resolution is another big moment in home theater history. This is an awesome new level of 1920 x 1080p resolution.
Texas Instruments is already promoting its new 1080p DLP engines. TV ads are starting to include clear labeling of 720p or 1080p designations. At this time, 1080p TVs only include the biggest screen sizes52 inches and above. I cant wait to see this on a 100-inch 16 x 9 front projection screen. You will need to use HDMI inputs when connecting to the HDTV or projector.
This is the moment when I would pull out every file from all of my jobs in progress. I would call every customer who has ordered a TV for future installation with the hot news.
This is the time to check with your suppliers to verify which TVs and projectors meet the new specs. This is the time to prepare your team by getting the latest technical info on the two new disc formats, on HDMI inputs, audio format issues, setup menus, etc. You will need to research just what works with what so you can be sure of clean installations.
There are still caveats and interconnect issues to be aware of. Experiment in your showroom and resolve any unforeseen issues. Also, upgrade your showroom so that you can demonstrate at least one great HDTV playing back the new discs.
Like the premier of a Hollywood movie, its time to plan a special party to celebrate the long-awaited arrival of HDTV. Send out personal invitations to your clients, sales leads, builders, architects, friends, and neighbors. Get the popcorn popper going and when you press play you may also want to pop open some champagne.