HDTV Or Not HDTV – That Is The Question

A confession. Back in 1968, my college radio station was broadcasting in mono. A fellow engineering type and I decided we’d change that.

We had no stereo equipment at the studio nor a stereo exciter at the transmitter site, but we hooked up a tone generator on the audio line and inserted a 19 kHz sine wave. The tone was too high to be heard over-the-air, but perfect to enable the stereo light on any radio so equipped.

Anyone listening to the station who saw the light probably thought we were in stereo. Perception is reality.

Another station I worked at inadvertently turned off our ability to broadcast in stereo (though that pilot tone was still transmitting and turning on stereo lights). There wasn’t one call of complaint.

All that happened decades ago, but some things remain the same.

A few weeks ago my folks bought an HDTV television. Then last week they got an HDTV DVR from Comcast. A few cable connections and voila – HDTV.

Just one problem. That’s not what they were watching.

My dad, who had hooked up as many TVs as anyone, did what he’d always done. And that did produce a picture. There was no way for him to know what he did coiuld never produce real HDTV.

Since my folks were watching programs that filled the 16:9 screen on their HDTV, and since it was being fed by their HDTV DVR they were happy.

An article at Audioholics.com points out:

A recent survey by Leichtman Research Group came up with the following interesting facts:

* Nearly half of the 24 million households with HDTVs don’t actually watch high-definition programs because they lack an HDTV feed from either via cable or satellite

* 25% of those surveyed didn’t even realize they were watching non-HDTV transmissions

As the author, Clint DeBoer, points out “Sleeping in the Garage Doesn’t Make You a Car.”

I don’t want my folks to miss out on what they paid for, so I’ve tried to help get the right cables in the right sockets. It’s not easy as all the connections are behind or under the TV or the wall unit it sits in.

Right now they can get HDTV… just without audio. The solution is easy, once the TV and DVR are moved.

Oh – I knew they weren’t getting HDTV when my dad told me he had to tune the TV to Channel 3 to see anything. Using the TV’s tuner meant they were watching everything in “SD” or standard definition.

Their DVR to TV connection was a single coaxial cable, instead of the five separate connections they really need. How is anyone supposed to know this?

Believe me, they’re not the only ones.

4 thoughts on “HDTV Or Not HDTV – That Is The Question”

  1. using hdmi cables all around would also work , they are a little pricey but can be found on ebay for a reasonable price.

  2. using hdmi cables all around would also work , they are a little pricey but can be found on ebay for a reasonable price.

  3. My parents were the same way.. They bought this new plasma TV, signed up for HD from Communicast and were still watching 2, 5, 7, 9, 26, 32, etc. like they normally would, instead of the HD version of each channel because they would type in “2”, “5”, “7” etc and get the -TV instead of “505”, “506”, etc (or whatever they are) for the -DT.


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