Want HDTV? Be Careful

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If you haven’t shopped for HDTV yet, the first thing you’ll encounter is confusion. You want LCD or DLP? Or LcoS? Flat-screen or rear-projection? Get ready to hear about pixels and resolution—”Sir, would you prefer 1,080 lines drawn on-screen in an odd/even or interlaced pattern, or 720p, 720 lines scanned in one sweep, or progressively? Plasma or cathode-ray tubes?”

There is so much to know about HDTV. A co-worker told me the story of his friend, who had just bought a big-screen HDTV and invited everyone over to watch the game. They stood around oooohing and aaaahing.

But my co-worker, who owns an HDTV, thought something was amiss. Turns out that, while the friend owned an HDTV, he didn’t know that he also needed to upgrade his cable box to HDTV. (Research shows as many as half the consumers with HDTV sets aren’t actually receiving it.)

I contacted a friend who had just bought an HDTV and had used Consumer Reports as his guide to help me sift through all the confusion. I determined that a 36-inch screen fit my family’s needs perfectly. For that size, Consumer Reports says sets with cathode-ray tubes, although bulky and heavy, still offer the best picture quality and value.

The magazine recommended a Sony model selling for about $1,100. Circuit City had a floor model for sale for around $900. We were in the process of buying it when the salesman mentioned that the set he had in his house was better. (I bet he says that to all his customers.)

It was a Polaroid—yes, a Polaroid. He showed me a lightweight, plasma Polaroid. It was beautiful—just an inch or so deep, and I could lift it with one hand. Impulsively, I changed my mind. I took it home and turned on the football game. My son saw it and proclaimed, “Dad, it’s all blurry.” He was right. So I boxed it up, took it back and got the Sony.

The Sony picture was clear and clean, even before I had it hooked up to HDTV. Now I thought it would be a good time to try something really new. Rather than get my HDTV set-top box from a cable or satellite provider, I could use Verizon Fios. (We happen to live in Keller, Texas, the first area in the country to offer Verizon’s new fiber-optic connection.)

We watched our first NFL playoff game in HDTV, and it was beautiful. When we watched an HDTV underwater special on the Discovery channel, we thought the fish would jump through the screen. Everything is beautiful. Letterman and Leno somehow seem funnier in HDTV.

As my son remarked, “Life should be in HDTV, Dad.”

Indeed, son, indeed.

Paul Greeley is VP of marketing and promotions for Nexstar Broadcasting.

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