As we enter the last sweltering days of July this year, our thoughts turn to HD. In the news this week, we heard about the government's plans for coupons to obtain converters for those folks who won't have an HDTV by February 2009. Although, if you look at the numbers projected from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), this manufacturer's group forecasts that U.S. consumers will purchase more than 18 million DTV sets and displays this year, marking a 50 percent increase over 2005 sales. 2006 will also be the year that high-definition television (HDTV) outsells analog television set units. According to sales projections, HDTV sets will outsell analog sets by 89 percent in 2006, reaching total unit sales of 15.9 million and contributing to over $23 billion in total DTV revenue. These numbers are impressive, and will grow significantly in the next few years, which is good news for companies supplying chips, components, and panels
There were several interesting product stories this week relating to HD including the announcement by Matsushita that it will be building its 103-inch plasma high-definition monitor later this year. In the U.S., it will be sold by Panasonic through both its consumer and professional divisions for about $70,000 (US dollars). Each set has to be ordered, and will be built to the customers specifications. The company expects to sell about 5,000 units this year. In other product news, Sony Corp. unveiled its first two high-definition video camcorders based on the AVCHD format. The cameras use a proprietary MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 codec chip and image processor. One model is DVD-based, and the other includes a hard-disk drive. Both models will hit the Japanese market in August and shortly thereafter elsewhere in the world. Zoran also announced that its SupraHD 660 integrated DTV processor and Cascade 2 high performance demodulator products are powering Sanyo Electric's new LCD and Plasma HDTVs in screen sizes ranging from 26-in. through 42-in.
And, I am amazed at how the term "HD" continues to permeate the language. What do I mean? We now have HD Radio. However, there's nothing really high-definition about it, and the audio quality may be inferior to standard stereo FM. All it allows the stations to do is multi-cast (more than one program at the same time over the same bandwidth) and add traffic or weather notices, but no high-def. So, how is it HD Radio? It's a true misnomer. I also saw a pick-up truck the other day with HD in its moniker like "HD Tundra." Now, I want to know how a truck is capable of high-definition. Think about it. It just makes me scratch my head. On the other hand, I guess, it's interesting how something like HD is permeating all aspects of our lives.
As the heat wave continues across the land, try and stay cool!