HDTV is finally baby stepping its way into our homes. Sure, we have all been selling HDTVs for some time, but until recently there has been nothing to watch in HD. Whether we hit the 2007 transition date or not, one thing is certain… it will all get more confusing.
Your best customer calls from two states away and announces, “I just got a brand new HDTV, and I want to watch all of the high def shows I can get. How soon can you hook it up to my home theater system that you installed four years ago?”
Next week you pull up to his beautiful home, where his wife greets you at the door and leaves you to your task of firing up the new HDTV. You open the manual to the TV and begin looking over the features, specs and hook-up information. That’s when it starts to hit you. Depending on where the client’s home is, you may be able to get his HD programming broadcast “off air,” from the local cable company or from a DSS satellite system. In each case, a different HD tuner solution is needed. Your client is pumped, and he wants to get HD from all three sources.
Next, you find there is no HD tuner in the set. Or you may find that there is a tuner, but it won’t work for the type of signal you can get or you may find you need an external standalone HD tuner. You may need to get a special HD cable box from the cable company instead of buying another tuner. Your tuner may need Cable-8VSB capability, which is how some cable companies are broadcasting, temporarily. Some cable companies use the QAM system, and you can’t get a picture without it.
You need to get the newest HD DSS receiver for him, too, and then cut big holes in his walls to get wires to a new dish and bypass all of the multi-switches somebody put in his crawl space.
If you can figure out each of the three different tuner puzzles, you then have to hook up the right format of video inputs for the TV set. Do your tuners give you RGB, component or something else? What if there is only one RGB input on the set? Will you be using the component (Y, Pf, Pb) inputs for the 480p progressive DVD player or does the set have DVI? Wait a minute, what the heck is HDMI? How is that different from firewire?
After a half hour on hold with tech support, the technician says that he doesn’t know if your HDMI TV can connect to a DVI tuner from that manufacturer. In any case, you will need four cables and three connectors that they have never heard of at Radio Shack.
You now have three HD tuners to hook up and control, a composite video signal from the normal SD channels, the VCR and that progressive DVD. All of them are in different formats. Then the cable company has given you CBS-TV in standard def. and a mirror broadcast on another channel in HD. All of these tuners need to be individually switched and controlled, and all of them have different sound output issues. And your client wants to record the shows. Will you get him a DVHS deck or create some kind of down conversion?
Some sources have different scan rates, some are interlaced, and some are progressive and maybe different frame rates. You never know what aspect ratio will pop up and how to fill the screen without the people looking all stretched. The TV uses menu commands! Can you switch all of the video with the TV only? Can your surround receiver handle switching and detecting all of the surround formats and connections?
You panic and start calling Crestron, Niles, AMX, anybody, everybody. They can’t find the codes for those boxes. You stay up until 4 a.m. writing flowcharts for each command list. Then it hits you. You can’t make it all work without getting the picture and formats mixed up. You desperately punch new codes into the control system laptop and watch in amazement as your whole control system crashes. His HDTV switchers and tuners are so menu driven they just won’t work with your control system.
It’s your worst nightmare. The customer will actually have to pull out all of his remotes and figure out how to push the buttons himself!