Thursday, February 08, 2007

DTV conversion mandatory Feb 17, 2009

Just recently, the media has started talking about the mandatory conversion of all broadcast television to DTV (Digital TV) by Fen 17, 2009 (a Tuesday, one day after President's Day).

Retailers are putting together websites to explain all of the consumer options. Best Buy and .CNET have a complicated information center, and Circuit City has a fact sheet that seems simpler to follow. Here is the link to the FAQ fact sheet.

It would appear that television manufactured since about 1998 would have the necessary tuners to work if connected to a cable service. They might not show high definition unless specifically manyfactured as such. The price range of teleivisons offered today is from about $300 on the low end to thousands on the upper end. Most HDTV's have 16:9 aspect ratios to accomodate common motion pictures. (That is 1.78:1 and the standard wide screen is 1.85:1, with Cinemascope usually 2.3:1 (sometimes there are other variations with high definition video). There is considerable complexity with the issue of digital recording, and most boxes from cable companies will probably change. There is also considerable controversy about copy protection (the DMCA) as noted in the last blog; it may be counter-productive except with the most popular, mass-market music and movies (people who like independent and educational films -- sometimes artists or content creators themselves -- are much less likely to disrepect copyrights anyway).

Added to all of this is the controversy about DVD formats, which now appears to be heading toward new machines that can play all formats.

I would sit on this for a while as the details sort out. In another year or so, the picture should be much clearer as to how it will all work. And hopefully (save a bird flu pandemic in Asia) prices will come down.

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