The Harris Poll had some interesting HDTV statistics yesterday:
- Almost a year-and-a-half after Blu-Ray won the format war, 11% of US adults own HD-DVD players but only 7% own Blu-Ray players
I own both, although my HD-DVD player is gathering dust in the spare room – I only have a handful of HD-DVDs, none of which I need to watch, and I didn’t want to squeeze another player into the stack of devices cluttering my entertainment system. I have no plans to purchase Blu-Ray discs, but instead pay a surcharge to rent them, whenever possible, from Netflix. But the Harris Poll data is confusing, since they also report 9% of US adults own a Sony Playstation 3 (PS3). Well, those are Blu-Ray players, so why would they say only 7% of adults own a Blu-Ray player? Perhaps many PS3 owners don’t realize they can play Blu-Ray discs?
- Ownership of televisions that were 36 inches or larger increased from 35% to 42% of US adults this past year
- Ownership of HDTVs increased from 35% to 47% of US adults this past year
My HDTV is only 30″ and is an older flatscreen 16:9 CRT. So it is deep and heavy, but it also is bright, has fairly accurate colors, and a very wide viewing angle. I usually sit eight feet from the screen, so standard-definition video sources don’t look grainy and I can tug the couch up closer if I want to see a Blu-Ray, downloaded, or over-the-air HD show with greater perceived resolution. (My screen tops out at 800 lines, which is fine for its size, although if you move up to 42″ and beyond the full 1080 is preferred.)
I’d certainly like a bigger screen, but I’m still leery of plasmas, especially with Pioneer exiting that market, although some well-regarded Panasonic units have reportedly greatly reduced their lifetime-loss-of-brightness and burn-in problems. And LCD televisions still suffer from some motion blur as well as color quality and brightness dropoff at large viewing angles. Without some quality up-conversion, I’m also afraid the things I watch in standard-definition would look lousy on a huge screen.
I’d be more fond of the instant gratification from streaming HD video were it not for the frequent buffering delays, lack of bonus features, and sparse selection compared to discs from Netflix. Some new HDTVs incorporate Netflix streaming, which I can already get through my Tivo HD along with Amazon’s video-on-demand. And I can also rent videos on my Apple TV, although that has been less satisfying with limited content and some annoying playback delays. I used to hook my Averatec laptop to the television to watch Amazon Unbox video, but even with my smaller Asus Eee PC that remains a bothersome kludge. To get the computer image on the TV I have to plop the netbook by the TV, plug in the audio cable and two cables for the video dongle that converts VGA to component video, then plug in the computer to the wall since I will be overclocking it continuously, then tweak the screen settings on the PC and the receiver and the video dongle, all for an image that suffers from blooming and color distortions. Good grief! So I’m truly thankful Amazon’s service is on the Tivo now.
Another thing I’d like to do is surf the web on my TV from the couch. To avoid the above hassle with the netbook, I’ve hacked my Apple TV with the aTV Flash so that I can now surf the net through it, but plugging in my wireless keyboard and mouse causes the overburdened Apple TV to stutter a bit and the CRT image is still rather lacking. So I find that I’d rather just put the netbook in my lap and use it.
But eventually I will make the jump to a larger HDTV, perhaps 42″ to 46″, with 1080p resolution, good standard-definiton upconversion, and multiple HDMI inputs as well as VGA. For couch surfing I’d hook that new TV directly to a small dedicated computer with a wireless keyboard and trackpad. But today a good Samsung LCD TV and Mac mini to achieve the results I seek would cost me about $2,000. Ouch! I’ll stick with my CRT and netbook for now.