Hit or Miss

Size Queen

I’ve got Christmas/Chanukah money burning a hole in my pocket and I’ve decided I want a new computer monitor. I’ve had my current 15″ LCD monitor for three years and it still works fine. But I have a 19″ LCD monitor in my office, so it’d be nice to have a comparable-sized one at home.

But it’s a slippery slope. As long as I’m getting a new monitor, it’d be nice to get a widescreen model, so I could watch movies on it. As long as I’d be getting a widescreen monitor, it’d be nice to get one with an integreted TV tuner, so I’ll be ready for HDTV. As long as I’d be getting a HDTV capable set, I should upgrade to HD cable. To say nothing of getting a new graphics card so I can connect with a DVI cable instead of a VGA one.

I’m pretty confused with what’s happening with HDTV. Wasn’t the entire broadcast industry supposed to be switched over by now? I hate to contemplate buying a new display without taking the (near?) future into consideration.

4 responses so far (Respond)

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It is always seems as soon as you buy new electronics, something cheaper and better comes out the next day. Put the money in paypal which is paying 4.4% interest, and wait until you are certain with what you want to do with the money!

Miss Lillie | 1 Jan 2006
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The clamor for Digital/HDTV has failed to materialize because it’s a technology that provides absolutely no benefit to most TV viewers. HDTV may be impressive on a large-screen set in a sports bar or in the Home Theatre Room of a CEO’s mansion. But ordinary mortals with 19-inch sets will be hard-pressed to see any difference, at least not enough to justify the high cost of a digital tuner (which is an extra-cost accessory even for large-screen “digital-ready” sets). And remember that digital TV isn’t necessarily synonymous with HDTV– broadcasters have the option of using the bandwidth to carry multiple programs at conventional (VGA) definition, which is probably what they’ll do most often because it generates more advertising revenue.

Television manufacturers and some media conglomerates have been pushing digital TV, and have excited Congress with the prospect of giving up existing channels that the government can auction. But they failed to convince enough consumers to “pioneer” the technology so that it could reach critical mass on the original schedule. So Congress is left with the prospect of setting a deadline for everyone to convert to new sets, a deadline that keeps getting pushed back because of great consumer reluctance. It also doesn’t help that the media conglomerates are demanding strong copy protection on digital signals. From the consumer perspective this is “crippling” that further reduces the appeal of the technology; it also would render obsolete the relatively few existing digital tuners in consumers’ hands.

Eventually Congress is going to get tired of waiting for the promised spectrum space for auction, and they’ll impose a hard deadline that will force all the players to make some sort of accord. But until then, there’s no rush to buy a digital tuner that might be rendered obsolete by whatever form of “content controls” the media conglomerates insist on.

If you don’t mind giving your cable monopoly more money, an HDTV-ready monitor could be a good idea. You rent a box from the cable monopoly that provides a signal your monitor can use. It’s available right now (for a suitable premium price) and it bypasses all the battles between the various industry players. Just be prepared to give up your TiVo, since it probably isn’t compatible with digital cable. But not to worry– for even more money the cable monopoly might be able to provide a “video on demand” service.

As you can see, the only current beneficiaries of digital television are cable monopolies that can provide the technology today, at a commensurate price.

Ted | 2 Jan 2006
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I bought a 21″ Acer widescreen LCD through newegg.com for less than $600. The same model at CompUSA was over $700. It’s a great flatscreen with both VGA and DVI connections as well as built-in speakers. Not High-Def though. Best part? No sales tax.

Jay | 6 Jan 2006
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Great information from Ted. Right on as far as I have heard. After moving to Omaha, DirecTV wouldn’t let me get HD network stations…so I had to do the old “over-the-air” antenae. Actually looks better than the sat picture. Something to look into.

Local radio guys talk about TiVo-ing HD broadcasts on their digital cable. I can’t confirm.

Me, I just built a new computer, but sticking with my old Sony 19″ CRT. Still looks great. Take care Matt — Doug

Doug | 9 Jan 2006