High Definition Television — HDTV — has been available for several years in the USA and in February 2009 all broadcast television stations will be required by federal law to broadcast their signal in HDTV. If you haven’t yet tasted HDTV with your drooling eyes — just wait! HDTV is coming soon to a television near you and the definition is superb and sparkling.
If you have an older television, and you currently use a standard antenna to
watch over-the-air local broadcast stations — you will need to buy a new TV, or buy cable service or set up a
satellite dish — or you can get an HDTV converter box for your television. The federal government is making that easy for you to do with a coupon program.
You can find some great deals on HDTV sets right now. We were able to get a fantastic deal last week on a new LCD HDTV with a built-in DVD player.
Just buying an HDTV set isn’t enough, though, to watch a show in HDTV. You also need to get an HDTV signal and you do that by calling up your cable company and having them bring you an HDTV converter box.
We called Comcast to have them install an “HDTV cable box” — that just happens to cost an extra $6.00USD a month. Ahhh… the perilous price of better beauty is not cheap!
No less than five component wires connect our HDTV to the new HDTV converter box. The sound and images are spectacular. Musical performances are given new depth and life.
Sporting programs also come alive as players shimmer in the afternoon sun.
You’ve never really seen a baseball game on television unless and until you watch one on HDTV. The players become 3D magicians as they bolt from the screen and into your living room. You can see the sweat beading on their faces. You entire field of view is filled with rich detail you never knew was there.
The Yankees and the Mets never looked so great on their HDTV broadcasts and I cannot imagine that attending a baseball game live-and-in-person would ever be a more intimate or detailed experience than an HDTV presentation. Reality becomes Hyper-Real when you watch with HDTV.
HDTV isn’t all grapes and glory. There’s a “Secret Underworld” of HDTV programming that exists on the interactive on-screen menus of your cable box. To find HDTV programming, you have to hunt around a bit and click through a lot of junk to find the HDTV shows and movies and news programs.
Once you go HDTV you don’t ever want to watch “regular” television again, so you spend a lot of time looking for the HDTV equivalent for your previous pattern of watching. Most over-the-air broadcast stations have an HDTV equivalent — as do all the major premium cable channels like HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Encore and Starz.
Closed Captions are also an interesting feature of HDTV in that they are handled differently than regular TV. When you watch a regular TV program, your television set instantaneously interprets and processes and presents the Closed Captions for viewing.
HDTV uses a different delivery system for Closed Captions. The HDTV cable box does the processing of the Closed Captions because there is so much more information being fed down the same cable wire that it takes a cable box CPU to process the data into captions.
You quickly begin to see the “television-interpreted” Closed Captions are smaller and harder to read while the HDTV Closed captions — “cable-box-interpreted” — are larger and easier to read, but slower loading into view. It can take up to a minute for Closed Captioning to show up on an HDTV broadcast and that means you’re stuck a bit waiting to see if a show you want to watch is actually Closed Captioned or not.
You should also be aware that if Closed Captions are important to you on HDTV, you need to make sure your cable box is properly set up to deliver them to you. Your local cable company will likely brush off your request to set up the box to process Closed Captions with an excuse that all cable boxes are the same, but experience yields an opposite answer.
There are backend ways you can find online that explain how to program your cable box to show HDTV Closed Captions — the process is legal, simple, and usually consists of pressing a pattern of the buttons found on the front of your box to access the programming interface. If you choose to program your box, you should be careful to press the right buttons because you can completely disable your box if you hit the wrong key sequence.
Our HDTV cable box was set to show Closed Captions, but only on “C2” instead of “C1.” C2 is Spanish. C1 is English. Our cable box’s “language” was also set to “secondary” — which meant all spoken interpretations or printed captions were in Spanish and not English. Finding the fix online took longer than actually programming the change in the cable box.
When you finally get an HDTV television, you will wonder at how such a fantastic technological leap into the future can be so intimately beheld by your eye in the privacy of your own warm darkness.