DTV Primer

Chris Llana, Editor



Tech Update

October 4, 2006

Blu-ray disc players

Panasonic ended up postponing the arrival of its Blu-ray player after all, from last month to October. The official Blu-ray site now lists BD players from four manufacturers to go on sale this month.

Panasonic DMP-BD10 - $1300

Pioneer BDP-HD1 - $1500

Sony BDP-S1 - $1000

Philips BDP 9000 - $1000

All prices subject to change. Hopefully the bugs have been worked out. Should be an interesting Halloween!

SED Television

At the Ceatac exhibition in Japan this past week, Toshiba and Canon showed off three 55" SED TVs (holy grail technology). The two companies announced that they have finally developed (undisclosed) production technologies that will allow them to price SED sets competitively with LCD flat-panel sets.

The production timetable has not changed significantly -- first 55" production sets will be sold in Japan late-2007. Mass production will commence in 2008.

Some technical specs were revealed for the first time. Contrast ratios of either 50,000:1 or 100,000:1 were both reported (amazing!). Response time of one millisecond! 30,000 hour life.

Wheel of Fortune & Jeopardy

Sony Pictures has upgraded these two syndicated daytime TV shows to high-definition. Is this some kind of transition marker, I asked myself.

On the plus side, high-def moving further into daytime has got to be significant.

On the minus side, out of 207 client stations, only 50 were interested in the HD feed. That demonstrates how far local TV stations still have to go in converting their operations to HD. The National Association of Broadcasters continues to resist airing consumer education public service announcements. Why advertise the arrival of high-definition if you can't pass through HD programming?

These shows are distributed through the affiliate stations of several networks. And that revealed a number of technical problems, due to the different way each network handles the satellite distribution of digital/HD programming (video and 5.1 multichannel audio).

On the production side of the equation, new sets had to be built for both shows to account for the difference in aspect ratio (4:3 versus 16:9). Oh, and there was of course a lot of electronics that needed switching out.

It's progress.