1080p nirvana has been reached in the HDTV market. This is happening at a time when the HDTV sweet spot is about to be reached. So lets talk about each for a moment.
First, the sweet spot. It’s generally recognized in the high def industry (and by the analyst), that when HDTV LCD, DLP and other display technologies go below $999, that HDTV sales will start to really take off. This is starting to happen. I’m not talking about small TV sets either. I’m talking 42″+ HDTV for below a grand. If you don’t spot the sets just yet, watch what happens after Black Friday.
The second point I was going to make is around the 1080p nirvana. 1920×1080 progressive playback if the holy grail of HDTV. However, in order to be able to see that resolution, you have to have a display capable of doing it, and you have to have content.
Well, the displays are now everywhere. This time last year, Samsung could do 1080p across VGA but not HDMI. I made the conscience decision to buy a HDTV that could do 1080p across HDMI. At the time, it seemed like the better choice since VGA is analog, and HDMI is pure digital. Microsoft threw a little kink in my plan. They shipped the Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive with 1080p output capabilities, but only across the VGA cable connection. The Xbox 360 does not have a HDMI cable and the maximum resolution across component is 1080i.
Regarding 1080p nirvana in general, it widely considered to be somewhat of a fad. Maybe not a fad, but people like to poke fun at the 1080p enthusiasts for a couple of reasons. In many cases, you really can’t see the difference between 1080i (interlaced) and 1080p (progressive) except on HDTV sets at or above 55″, and with the right content. For a very good read on the subject, see http://www.xbox.com/en-US/hardware/accessories/20061003-hddvd.htm.
If however you have a large HDTV that supports 1080p, the market is catching up with devices and content. HD-DVD and Blu Ray disk drives are becoming more prevalent. They are still expensive as hell, but the price is dropping thanks to the gaming market. The PlayStation 3 console started selling this week and it includes the Blu Ray drive. Like the Xbox 360, the PS3 is capable of delivering a 1080p signal. so as you can see, we now have millions of gamers in the quest for 1080p. Now they just need mommy to buy a 56, 58 or 62″ HDTV and some 1080p movies or games.
It’s widely acknowledged that the gamers are helping drive the HDTV market. It’s no coincidence that HDTV sales started going up pretty drastically right before the Xbox 360 launched. I bought mine last October ahead of the Xbox 360 launch. The PS3 fanboys will help drive the market as well.
I have no plans to purchase a PS3 at this time. I’m pretty sure they are already sold out until after Christmas anyway. The problem in the industry now is the format war. HD-DVD drives won’t play a Blu Ray disk, or vice versa. That means you have to make a conscience decision which format, and personal library to build. Since I purchased the Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive, I’ve made my decision but it’s still very hard to swallow the HD-DVD or Blu Ray movie prices. The prices are generally at or above $24.99. I’m not going to be buying many titles at those prices, not when I can buy the same standard definition title at or below $9.99. Call me cheap.
Currently, the selection of HD-DVD and Blu Ray content is pretty limited. There are some decent movies, but I already own several of the titles. Remember the millions of gamers? Demand for movies on both formats will insure more selections keep coming out. It’ll be interesting to see if one format will win over the other. I don’t see a clear victor ayntime soon. Microsoft threw down the gauntlet with the Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive. Sony is behind Blu Ray with the drive built into the PS3. Standalone players are out, and more are on the way.
I watched a Pioneer Blu Ray disk player and movie the other day in the BestBuy Magnolia section. The display was a top of the line Pioneer Elite plasma model. The picture was incredible. Toshiba has some new models coming out as well for the HD-DVD format. The real bottom line on all of this is that the quest for 1080p has been completed if your are willing to make the investment. It isn’t a trivial investment so make your choices carefully.