[opendtv] Re: HD Trends for 2007 and beyond

  • From: Tom Barry <trbarry@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2006 22:36:18 -0500

Manfredi, Albert E wrote:
> When the combined HD-DVD and BluRay players are introduced, I'm not sure
> who will care anymore about which format survives. Only the IP holders.

Since many of the IP holders probably own rights in both standards I'm sure they will love being paid double royalties from both pools for each dual format Player.

- Tom

In the STB paragraphs, for DTT STBs, he only mentions the upcoming basic
NTSC-output box. As an aside, I'm not sure why Samsung, in its brand new
STB, did not allow the GUI to work on any SD output interfaces. Since
you need the GUI to scan channels, that overight makes the Samsung
useless for anything but HD monitors. Instead, I would have positioned
that STB to become one of the standbys for the 2009 shutoff. By then,
its price should have eroded to something quite attractive.

Unless, of course, Samsung already figured that out, and is planning a
stripped down version of the same STB. Maybe one with no component or
HDMI outputs.

When the combined HD-DVD and BluRay players are introduced, I'm not sure
who will care anymore about which format survives. Only the IP holders.
Certainly not the movie studios, the consumers, or the CE companies that
make the combined players. It will be fun to watch that whole debate
fizzle out. Assuming these new players even succeed, what with their
arcane DRM schemes that require phone line connections. Maybe consumers
will revolt. Would be nice to see consumers with some backbone, once in

Also, apparently the Japanese won't buy DVD players that don't also
record. They delayed introducing HD-DVD and BluRay players in Japan for
this reason. I must be part Japanese, then. Doesn't make any sense to me
either, given that recorders exist.



December 11, 2006

HD Trends for 2007 and beyond

By Dennis P. Barker

Every year we like to get out our crystal balls and speculate about what
the future may bring. Let's not get confused like old Scrooge in
Dickens' A Christmas Carol in his encounter with the Ghost of Christmas
Future. Concerning to the topics covered in Digital TV DesignLine, the
two that will be the most volatile and possibly controversial will be
displays and next-generation optical discs. There will also be
developments in Set-Top Box design, Digital Rights Management, HD
Recording and Voice/Data Networking.


The set-top box will be with us for many years to come. Current
incarnations of STB technology come in the flavors of satellite and
cable boxes. The two major satellite providers continue to make the move
from MPEG2 to MPEG4, and have been deploying new boxes and dishes to
take advantage of this compression technology. DirecTV certainly had its
problems deploying its new HD boxes, and their new HD DVR boxes continue
to be backordered. DirecTV had hopes of turning off its MPEG2 HD signals
in favor of HD MPEG4, but simply can't do it. It may not even happen in
2007 at DirecTV's current rate of deployment. On the other hand,
EchoStar has had a much easier time deploying MPEG4 boxes. However,
their lawsuit with TiVo threatens to turn-off over 4.0 million DVRs.
This case is now headed for the Supreme Court, and its outcome cannot
really be predicted.

Of course, the market for cable HD boxes continues to grow as more folks
obtain HDTVs, which is good news for both Motorola and Scientific
Atlanta. Most of the new cable HD boxes being put in consumer hands now
include HD DVR capability. More and more people are finding that
recording their favorite shows on a DVR is a much easier proposition
than using a DVD recorder.

Also, there will be small market for IPTV set-top boxes in 2007. As
noted below, IPTV is still in its infancy, and it will take sometime for
this industry to grow. Growth in IPTV won't take place till later in the
decade. To receive TV signals via the Internet requires better Connected
Home solutions than are currently available except in new home

The market for HD set-top boxes that convert digital HD signals to
older, legacy NTSC standard definition TVs really won't materialize till
2008. At this time, companies like LG offer these inexpensive STBs to
consumers that don't/won't have HDTVs. This market will be part of the
U.S. Federal government voucher program that will coincide with the
turn-off of analog TV signals in February 2009.


Displays are a very volatile category. Prices continue to drop for all
display types. LCD TV prices will continue drop precipitously. At
presstime, a 32-inch LCD HDTV was priced at $699, and a 50-inch plasma's
prices were reduced to $1,699 (both models included a screen resolution
of 1366x768 and were available from Vizio). Of course, all of this is to
the detriment of the old trusty CRT. The CRT is going the way of the
Dodo bird, and will soon be a museum piece.

On the other hand, 1080p screen resolutions will be the story for 2007
from every display technology from LCD, Plasma, and MicroDisplay. Of
course, MicroDisplay will continue to offer the best value for the money
with consumers. For example, at the current Holiday selling season, a
50-inch 1080p DLP HDTV or an HD SXRD TV cost around $2,000 compared to a
50-inch 1080p plasma HDTV.

In late 2007, we can expect to see a completely new display technology
from both Canon and Toshiba, who are in a joint venture developing SED
or Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Displays. Some people feel that
1080p SED displays could displace 1080p plasma at the high-end, and have
it called SED-"the plasma killer." At the recent CEATEC 2006 show in
Japan, Toshiba announced a new 55-inch HDTV using SED technology to be
available by Christmas 2007. Toshiba feels that SED will provide better
overall performance at a price competitive with 1080p LCD and Plasma

SED televisions are similar to traditional tube televisions. Electrons
are fired at a screen to create images. However, instead of coming out
of a large electron gun, the electrons are fired from several thousand
nano particles. One advantage is that SED televisions are much thinner
than tube televisions, and have been described as "the best of both
worlds-CRT and flat." The performance and picture quality will also be
significantly higher than LCD or plasma high-definition models. The
contrast ratio is a whopping 50,000 to 1, which is far higher than LCD
or plasma. The response time is a millisecond, thus the image blur or
ghosting that can occur with some LCDs does not occur with SED.
Currently, the LCDs with the fastest response time is in the 4-6
millisecond range. SED televisions will also last for reportedly 30,000
hours or greater, putting them on par with traditional tube TVs. "Power
consumption of SED televisions is about half that of plasma and lower
than LCD," Naoaki Umezu, Toshiba's chief specialist on SED, told
journalists at CEATEC 2006.

Carbon Nanotube (CNT) televisions, which are similar to SED, are also
under development in both Japan and Korea. Reportedly, a major Korean
brand is looking to bring out one model late next fall (2007), but as to
who it is was not verified at presstime of this article. Lastly, other
companies are also pursuing carbon nanotube and related FED technologies
such as Applied Nanotech, and others for possible late 2007/early 2008

HD DVD/Blu-ray Disc

The jury is out as to which format, if any, will win over the other.
While Toshiba will stay a "die-hard" HD DVD fanatic, and Sony a fan of
the Blu-ray Disc, there will be a movement towards a true Universal
high-def player. Several stories relating to next-generation optical
discs have been posted on Digital TV DesignLine, and EE Times recently
regarding ICs and chipsets from Broadcom, STMicroelectronics, and NEC
Electronics that will finally allow true 'Universal' DVD players that
can decode and playback both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. These machines
will offer the best of both worlds and allow the consumer to buy into
the future of high definition DVD. As early as CES 2007, we could see
the first products announced that will accommodate this technological

Now, my speculation is that this is what the major audio brands like
Denon, Yamaha, Marantz, and Harman have been waiting for. They aren't
tied to either the Blu-ray camp or the HD DVD camp. They are the perfect
candidates. They've offered Universal DVD players before, meaning those
players that played back DVD-Audio and SACD, and now they could be at
the forefront again. All of the major audio companies are developing A/V
Receiver with HDMI 1.3 so it makes sense that they would develop a
'Universal' hi-def DVD player with HDMI 1.3 also allowing the passage of
Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD. Although, it should be
noted that each of these audio companies will need to do more R&D to
engineer these technologies into various types of products.


Manufacturers of both audio and video products seem to have awoken from
a deep sleep, and have recognized the importance of good video
processing. Several HD display products along with HD DVD/Blu-ray Disc
players now include processing from Faroudja, Silicon Optix, Analog
Devices, and Qpixel among others to improve overall picture quality. To
this end, audio manufacturers like Denon and Yamaha has also recognized
the importance of superior video processing in audio products, and will
be including more processing and video scaling on high-end AV Receivers
and AV Processors in 2007.


While there's certainly activity on the Digital Rights Management front
such as the Image Constraint Token (ICT), it has not been invoked as yet
for HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Will it? Right now, it's unclear what the
Hollywood Studies will do. As can be seen by the recent controversy over
DVD and the iPod, Hollywood will do whatever it can to block "fair use"
by the consumer. So, it's a constant struggle on the part of the CE
industry and consumers to fight the Hollywood community over "fair use."


IPTV continues to grow seemingly at a snail's pace. While some inroads
will be made in 2007, its time has not yet come. Of course, while some
providers might differ on that, the fact remains that it's still not
easy to move signals around the home, and there are many pitfalls to
keeping constant audio and video signals moving around the Connected
Home. And, many current solutions don't really address HD. While it's
easy to wire a new home with Cat. 5 cable, older homes are still a
challenge. Technologies such as 802.11n hold some promise for the easy
passage of audio and high definition video signals in the future, but
it's unlikely that 2007 will be the year for it to come to fruition.
Service providers offering Internet Protocol TV will grow in 2007 even
though many operators are still in the experimental stage.


HD recording is still in its infancy, and will continue to grow in 2007
especially via Satellite and Cable HD boxes. It's the quickest and
easiest way for consumers to make HD recording. While there are HD DVD
and Blu-ray Disc recorders in Japan now, they may not make it to the
U.S. or European markets in 2007. On the other hand, there are now HD
camcorders for consumers, but most don't record at full 1920x1080

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