DLP vs. LCD and plasma, analog TV cut-off, 1080p broadcasts

 Sound Advice

By Don Lindich

Week 5, 2007

Q: My first question is, how do DLP TV’s rate against LCD and plasma?

My second question regards the lock cable has on digital TV. When the change is implemented and analog is gone, will you be able to receive digital channels directly on your digital TV without any kind of a box or equipment from your cable company?

-Carol R, Hamilton, New Jersey

A: I prefer DLP to either LCD or plasma, finding DLP to produce a better picture at a lower price, especially at large screen sizes. The disadvantage is DLPs are deeper than flat-panel LCD or plasma TVs, which can be mounted on the wall. DLPs that can be wall-mounted are on the horizon, though.

Cable (and satellite) hardly have a lock on digital TV- far from it! You can receive network programming for free on any HDTV set with a digital tuner, or with any other TV when used in conjunction with a digital tuner. Any audio/video fan will tell you that the best-looking HDTV is received from the networks the old-fashioned way… over the air with an antenna. You can do this right now. In fact, digital TV was available over-the-air long before it was carried by cable or satellite.

For those who are not anxious to upgrade to HDTV, beginning in 2008 some consumers may be able to receive two $40 coupons good towards a digital tuner to use with their old analog TV. This program was created so tto help those without digital TVs receive programming once the analog signals are ended. You can learn more at www.ntia.doc.gov.

Q: I read your articles regularly and in the paper this morning you said there is no 1080p broadcast signal. When do you estimate their will be a 1080p broadcast signal?

-Douglas Nick, Minneapolis, MN

A: Probably never, and if there is, it will be many years from now. No HDTV or tuner boxes are set to receive a 1080p signal, and the networks are set up to broadcast 1080i (CBS and NBC) or 720p (Fox and ABC). Most of the local affiliates have just spent millions of dollars upgrading to broadcast either 720p or 1080i. Anyone trying to convince a network or station manager to spend millions more to go from the already excellent 720p or 1080i to 1080p that MAY be a smidgen better is likely to get laughed (or tossed) out of the room.

That you are asking this question tells me that either you are a very finicky videophile with a very big TV, or the industry’s misleading “1080p TrueHD” campaign is succeeding. If I could have created a theme or written the headline myself for the 1080p column, it would have been “1080p- who cares?” Unless you have a very big, top of the line HDTV (say over 65 inches) or a good video projector with a large screen, it is unlikely you are going to see the difference between 1080i, 720p, or 1080p.

A better use of network and station resources is converting all of the broadcast programming to HDTV formats. One of the biggest complaints from consumers is a lousy-looking when playing analog on their HDTV, and the bars on the side or the top of the screen when the picture proportions do not match (letterboxing and pillarboxing.)
For those of you with big screens and big budgets, I will be discussing how to achieve ultimate picture quality in a column coming soon.

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