HDTV – your personal route to confusion 

29 August 2008 tbs.pm/936

A couple of weeks ago I unpacked a Grundig Freesat HD set top box. In the cardboard packing was a set top box, power adapter, SCART lead and a remote control.

I then wandered over to the office’s LCD TV which the box was to be connected to, delved into our equipment draw and found a HDMI cable, and connected the TV to the box.

And I wondered just how many people would do likewise, and how many people would just connect their nice, shiny HD Freesat box to their nice, shiny HD ready TV with just a SCART cable before sitting back, relaxing, safe in the knowledge that they’ve “got HD TV now”.

(Just in case there are any MediaBlog readers out there who have done this, you’re not actually getting HD TV if you connect your TV and box via SCART – you do need a HDMI cable to enjoy HD properly. Go purchase – you won’t regret it.)

A couple of days later, I spotted a thread on a message board about someone who wanted to know why they couldn’t get BBC HD on their new “HD” TV. Of course the TV was not HD, but HD Ready.

Then there was another post demanding to know why they have to buy yet another set top box when “Freeview was supposed to be about giving us HD TV in the first place” (or words to that effect – sadly I can’t find the post in question)

So when I read this morning an article saying that more than half of the public of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are confused by HD, I can’t say I was particularly surprised.

The industry has a big part to play in the problem. “HD Ready” is perhaps the worst marketing term you could give for a TV – “ready for HD TV” is most likely to be taken as, “hey, when HD TV starts, this will just work! Cool! Isn’t that great?” rather than the actual answer of “This TV will give you HD pictures when you go out and buy a new HD set top box!”. And whilst the Grundig Freesat set top box manual may say that to get HD TV pictures from the set top box, you need to plug in a HDMI cable, no one reads manuals in the first place. You get given a SCART cable in the box – surely that’s all you need?

The industry just create the problems for themselves. Lack of knowledge and consumer confusion leads to mistrust and a reluctance to rush out and buy all that shiny technology. And not forgetting of course, the anger and resentment created when someone finally finds out that what they thought they’d already got, isn’t actually there…

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