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February 4, 2008

Super-sizing the Big Game

Posted: 08:59 AM ET

Would you pay $2 billion just to get a better picture of a football game?

According to the Consumer Electronics Association, that's just what we did this weekend. While the final totals aren't in, it's estimated that high definition TV sales spiked to about 2 million extra units - inspired by the Super Bowl. With HD-capable monitors now averaging about $1,000 each, that 's a two-billion-dollar boost for HD.

We already know that the outcome of the actual game is far less of an event than the commercials. Regardless of the Giants' upset, America's biggest football game soon may actually be the third most important element of Super Sunday. Two million HD sets, sitting atop an economic pyramid that's built on stuff from the electronics store, and the chips aisle of the grocery.

More than a third of US homes are now estimated to have at least one HD screen. And bars and restaurants have already made the plunge: There's a chain sports bar in my neighborhood that boasts over 400 HD screens. (I seriously doubt they've ever been able to boast having 400 customers in the place). After a slow start, HD now appears poised to add itself to the list of Things We Can't Live Without.

But if you rushed out this weekend to hook up a new TV to your satellite service for the Big Game, you may have been disappointed. There are some published reports of a month's wait to install the converter box and new satellite dish. I called my satellite provider, and they confirmed. But I'm not in a rush; I'm not the kind of guy who drops a thousand bucks for a better picture of the football game.

I'll be happy if it's up and running for the Final Four.

Filed under: HDTV

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Tony   February 4th, 2008 9:38 am ET

Of course HD TVs have tuners (like all TVs), so all you need is an antenna to watch the Super Bowl in high def...the "SciTech Blog" doesn't know this? So everyone, stop waiting for your new satellite tuner and start watching HD NOW!

Acerayl   February 4th, 2008 10:26 am ET

It seems that many of the sports venues have converted to HD coverage as well as many premium movie channels which have helped. And with the analog signal going away in 2009 coupled with prices for an HDTV going down, this seems like a great time to make the investment for that new TV. This will also help the home audio companies since HD is not only in the picture, but the audio as well. So you may see home theater systems come down in price as well.

Rob   February 4th, 2008 10:27 am ET

I am an HD enthusiast. I have a 42 inch Plasma in my living room and a 27inch LCD in my bedroom. Both are 1080P. I could not live without it! Serisously speaking while it not being a staple it definetly has been a very nice addition to my TV viewing. Also it rocks for PS3 HD games. I originally was not going to buy a Ps3 but then I wanted to watch HD movies. So a Blue ray player for 299 or a Ps3 with blue ray for 399...hmm no brainer!

HD is becoming a house hold standard, even for lower income family. Its a luxury item that makes you feel good and shows a good return for the wow factor when guests are over. Not to mention the space savings of having a Flat Panel versus a CRT TV.

Franklin   February 4th, 2008 11:07 am ET

Being a college student, a bunch of us got together in my dorm. One of the guys brought his HDTV over. Our college does not offer HD content over the cable system, so we had the bunny ear antenna out desperately trying to get a signal. It blew my mind watching such an amazing picture quality over analog!

TommyO   February 4th, 2008 11:28 am ET

Seriously – "Can't Live Without"? It's TV for crying out loud! If your life is so sad that getting super duper life-like pictures on your TV is worth a sizable fraction of your income and it's something you actually brag about ... well, you are pathetic. If you get up off your butt and go outdoors, you just might find even better resolution out there (and it has scents, too). No need to hook up a Wii game toy to the TV to "exercise" with – you can actually exercise! Don't get me wrong, I'm a tech guy (isn't that redundant?), but the practical value of an item has to exist and TV that has high resolution is not practical;. There is absolutely no value-add to that.

Solar John   February 4th, 2008 12:12 pm ET

TommyO is right! And these are no doubt the same people who drive Hummers, and live in mini-mansions. Why do so many of us seem bent on using up all of the earth's natural resources. Shouldn't we save some for future generations, and try to pollute less? Our children and grandchildren will no doubt look back at our generation as selfish and uncaring.

Robin   February 4th, 2008 12:35 pm ET

I don't watch enough tv to justify buying a new one. I have to dust off the remote for the one I have now.

Acerayl   February 4th, 2008 12:58 pm ET

The one purpose that analog is going away and congress actually spent time on this issue is the cost to run an HD signal both money wise and environment. That old TV you are dusting off is more than likely using as much electricity as 2 new HDTV's. I too enjoy the outdoors and enjoy the long weekend camping with friends. But that does not mean that I can not enjoy a good TV program. And if the new technology means less on the environment then I am behind it 110%. It seems the big issue is cost, but like a new appliance, the savings you will get on the electric bill will pay it off. Remember, it America, people can choose to live their lives the way they want. If they want to sit in front of their TV, that’s their choice.

Tony   February 4th, 2008 2:21 pm ET

Don't bash HDTV just because you don't appreciate it. If you've ever seen a quality nature show in HD, you can really appreciate the clarity.

People acknowledge the artistic qualities of paintings, photographs, and even film. Some people enjoy the quality of music of a good orchestra. Home audio and HDTV allow people to enjoy this art from home. That we get high quality video for sports programming is an added bonus.

If you don't appreciate listening to a concert or going to see a good film, then fine. But don't act holy-than-thou and put down people who appreciate it.

G-Dog   February 4th, 2008 2:49 pm ET

I watched the game in HD over the air. It was great. I bought a amplified antenna from Walmart last year and connected to the SDTV I bought when my old TV went out. The clarity was great and here in Chicago, the PBS channel broadcast 3 versions of its channel over the air in digital as well as NBC and ABC. And you saw more of the field and better resolution on my SDTV than on satellite.

Erik   February 4th, 2008 3:01 pm ET

If you like the outdoors so much, what on Earth are you doing surfing this silly commentary section? That doesn't seem very outdoorsy to me......

And as far as leaving a constructive comment – yes, don't forget the antenna option. I have a decidely non-tech antenna attached to my TV, and more often than note, am rewarded with a perfect picture. That being said, I have decided to upgrade to a premium antenna to hopefully improve the reception during inclement weather. I've just gotten tired of getting up and rotating those rabbit ears.

Kerry Plunk   February 4th, 2008 3:13 pm ET

Tony is right. If you could see Planet Earth on Blu-ray you'd quickly realize that there are some incredible things you'll just never get to experience in person that HD allows you to enjoy.

jody   February 4th, 2008 5:09 pm ET

hey hippy solar john, did you ever stop and realize that all the components of hummers, mini mansions and hdtv were first made by god himself. Us humans were given the gift, by god, to put them together into these magnificent creations? Do you really think all the "natural resources" are there just to sit and not be used? Their purpose on earth is for the creatures to use, it was god's gift to put them there in the first place. Try reading Genisis for a change!! He made man in order to think and create, not live as the natural animals do.

pgauthi   February 4th, 2008 7:15 pm ET

While it'strue that an over-the-air tuner exists in HDTV's, so many of us are now so addicted to TIVO and other DVR's that this is not an option.

I just can't imagine watching something live. What if the phone rings or someone talks over the punchline!? No thanks. Order that sat or cable box.

And count me into the HDTV rocks crowd. Do I need it? Of course not. But we really only need food, shelter, and sleep.

HD-rdy-Inet-enabled-Heatlamp   February 4th, 2008 8:09 pm ET

And since I'm such a grumpy-pants, I may as well point at that while the whole "HD" movement is the messiah of television quality (saving TV from the hell that is not even transmitting tv programs in DVD quality)... Most of the HDTVs I've seen are like a product shipped out as fast as possible and without any testing.

Why is this?

Because ALL digital video REQUIRES digital video processing. What happens if there is none? Blurry patches that develop at certain sections of the screen periodically (more like statically).

I have seen several new ones using such processing, but for several years HDTVs have been this crappy and people have been paying 2 and 3 thousand dollars for them. That is absolutely, insanely ridiculous and just a true testament to the absurdity of trusting the private sector to get ANYTHING right.

How did I find this out? By watching DVDs on my computer. Try watching one in Windows Media Player with default settings. Then go to video settings and look for video processing, where you should then select DirectX9 "renderless".

Your movies will then be absolutely flawless.... like ALL HDTVS SHOULD BE BY DESIGN.

*Reiteration: MANY of the newer HDTVS do in fact have such processing... Just look for the blurry patches: you can't miss 'em.

Michael   February 5th, 2008 3:56 am ET

Maybe Congress should consider providing vouchers for HDTVs instead of cash for the economic stimulus package. Every HDTV purchased will reduce the number of HDto SD converter boxes the government is subsidizing, and reduce the amount of electricity that people are using. First, however, they will have to subsidize the building of a plant in the USA to manufacture the HDTV's (and LCD panels that go in them) that the vouchers can be used for; so that all the profits don't end up going overseas (where all that cash is going to go if they just send people money). That will create more jobs here in the US, and will help are economy even more!

J Houston, TX   February 5th, 2008 10:15 am ET

All the profits go overseas? There's the guy at the store who sold it to you, the store who sold it to you, the truck driver who brought it to the store, the train that brought it to the distribution center, the dock or airport that brought the product in, the people working the dock or airport delivery, the shipping inspectors and customs agents, and the crew that brought the shipping vessel to the country. Oh wait, there's more, the insurance agency that insures the vessel, the accounting staff that determines the price, the logistics and traffic departments that manage the supply chain, the consultants that adapt for permutations in the systems, the tech personel that maintain the integrated data network to monitor delivery.

I think I'll just stop there. Don't get me wrong, manufacturing is very important, but there are a thousand jobs that get this item from point A to point B. Some things have high profit margins and a lot does go back to it's origin, but on a 1k unit? I can't see the take home being more than a hundred bucks. I've read analysts stating it's more like 4 cents on the dollar, but I'm going to go with 10 cents to be extreme.

Global warming? I blame the internet using up too much energy. Who built this damn thing to cause all this trouble? Ah yes...Al Gore caused global warming and then charged us money to watch his movie about it. More evidence of the baby boomer generation stealing from the youth of America.

Solar John   September 29th, 2008 10:11 am ET


It seems that you're not thinking ahead, when oil and coal are virtually depleted. It's not just that we're wasting resources, our grandchildren will be dealing with a polluted atmosphere, waters, and land. They'll be forced to clean up a huge mess we've left for them. They may forgive us to a certain extent, but it would be hard to dismiss the worst of us as simply ignorant. We know better, but don't seem to care about future generations. Do you want to be thought of that way? I don't. God gave us these resources to use, not to abuse.

Takae   April 4th, 2013 2:00 am ET

focus Takae

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