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How To Find High-Definition Content For Your HDTV
By Adrienne Maxwell
July 2006

Walk into any sports bar in the country and you’re likely to see the same thing. Rows of brand-new widescreen flat panels adorn the walls, purchased by owners anxious to make their place “the” place to watch the big game. But don’t except to be treated to HDTV on said panels. No, what you often see are plain old standard-definition signals – even worse, plain old standard-definition signals stretched disproportionately across the screen. It begs the question, why spend thousands of dollars to upgrade to HDTVs and not shell out a little extra cash to actually show high-definition programming?

A recent study by Forrester Research suggests that bar owners aren’t the only ones selling themselves and their HDTVs short. The report, commissioned by set-top box manufacturer Scientific Atlanta, revealed that 49 percent of the HDTV owners surveyed are not watching any HD programming on their TV. Some – like my own mother, in fact – have made a conscious choice not to pursue HDTV right now. Dear old mum was seduced by an LCD’s slender form factor when shopping for a new TV, but she has no interest in paying for the HD package offered by her satellite provider. She, like many, is content to wait until The Man forces the HDTV transition on her.

I don’t understand this rationale, but at least it’s an informed choice – something many people aren’t equipped to make. The Forrester study proves that misinformation (or at least a lack of information) still abounds in the world of HDTV. Twenty-eight percent of those questioned haven’t requested any special HDTV equipment from their satellite or cable provider because they already perceive improved quality in their new TVs; 23 percent haven’t invested in special equipment because the message at the beginning of many programs tells them that those programs are being broadcast in HD; 18 percent didn’t even know they needed special equipment to receive HDTV channels.

For those of you who are new to the HDTV game, two steps are necessary in order to watch HDTV: You need to purchase an HDTV and you need to add the equipment necessary to access high-definition channels on that new HDTV. Step two may be as simple as buying a small antenna or swapping cable boxes. It all depends on which HDTV channels you want and how much you’re willing to pay to get them.

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