Chef Nick of MontrealFoodBlog has a refreshingly realistic post on why HD isn’t quite ready for prime-time yet. It mentions the lack of available channels (besides the major networks, TSN and Discovery – and even those have very little in HD outside of prime time), the confusing technobabble (there’s TV, digital TV, 720p, 1080i, 1080p HDTV, UHDV — try reading this article without drawing a diagram), and the ongoing HD DVD format war.
The thing that bothers me most beyond this is the rather unsmooth transition from regular television. For example, my parents recently got an HD-ready television with its 16:9 aspect ratio, but they’re still connected to standard-definition cable. The result when watching prime-time programming is that the TV centres the cable signal, leaving black bars on the sides. The network, meanwhile, centres the HD programming, leaving black bars on the top. So on a 21″ HD television, the picture is only about 17 inches wide.
Ironically, the TV has a “zoom” feature, which expands a standard-definition signal horizontally to fill the TV, but there’s no option to do the same vertically when there’s an HD-filmed program on. The result is big black bars on the top and bottom, and a very stretched picture which makes everyone look about twice their weight.
Not that I’m bitter. But I think I’ll keep my trusty 13″ CRT and standard-definition cable box for the time being.