High Def v. Low Res

For fifteen years I have been hearing people talk about high definition television. When I was in college (1990-1994) it was going to be the next big thing. One of my profs told us that he did not want to see another research paper about it until he owned an HDTV. For years people have been taking about it breaking out. Lots of people have been waiting for HDTV to take over the commercial landscape.

Now should be the age of High Definition Television. All the broadcast channels are being broadcast in digital. Sporting events are amazing looking in HD. With shows like Lost, 24, and West Wing prime time television is the most cinematic it has ever been. With large clear TVs and great programming you would think that the future of HDTV would be clear.

The future is never quite that clear. Both Apple, Verizon, and Google are banking less is more. With iTunes Video Store and Video on iPod Apple are build on the idea that people do not care about resolution. The episodes of Lost you can buy from iTunes are low resolution. They do not look good blown up to full screen size.

Lower resolution makes it easier to get programs to the customer. At standard definition a TV show is about one Gigabyte for one hour. Even with DSL or a cable modem it would take a while to download Google Video is all about watching things right away. Sooner is better when it comes to Google Video. People are wiling to watch something lesser quality on a computer.

In the Verizon ads for V-Cast, they refer to the video as being "Broadband Quality." I have no idea what broadband quality means. Does that mean it is higher or lower quality then broadcast TV. Verizon has the luxury of only having a small screen to deal with. I do not think customers have any expectations when it comes to video on cell phones.

Apple has made a mint off making the iPod personal and portable. They want to make the video experience the same way. It would only take a few shows to fill an iPod with HD content. With Low Res content you can fit a lot of shows on your iPod. Apple is expecting that people care more about where they watch TV rather than how good the picture is.

Lots of companies are making a video play on low resolution. I am not sure if the home theater establishment has noticed this yet or not. Most of the Home Theater blogs I read have not made mention of this trend yet.

My family and my friends do not care about HDTV. The Television they get now is fine for them. Most of them do not have digital cable. They are not willing to pay more money for digital cable. I think these are the people that might prove that HDTV is not the future.


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