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My Leap Into the High-Def Future

12 Jun, 2007 By: Stephanie Prange

We finally did it. We bought a flat-screen LCD HDTV. After two years of shopping and hemming and hawing, my husband decided on a model and price.

We also took the plunge into high-def discs with the PlayStation 3, though we bought it only in part to play Blu-ray Discs. The other motivation was that my daughter wanted a “Naruto” game only available on the PlayStation systems — a PS2 game to be exact — and we previously had only an Xbox. So, in a way, we bought a PS3 to play a Ps2 game.

We also got digital cable to feed the flat-screen beast and hired an electrician to properly place the outlet and an installer (from Best Buy's Magnolia chain) to put it on the wall. My husband has downloaded some software fixes to better coordinate the PS3 and the TV. He's figured out how to connect our digital A/V receiver (which isn't HDMI-compatible) so that we have nice surround sound. He's picked up some extra speakers to create the home theater experience. He argued with the cable guy on how to fish the wires through the wall.

No wonder there's a whole new group of experts peddling their wares to consumers trying to put this whole HDTV puzzle together. Let me tell you, the process was a far cry from the good ol' days when you bought the TV, took it home and plugged it in.

But the payoff is magnificent — and a little troubling.

While high-def discs look spectacular on the new setup, DVDs don't look much worse. Our PS3 upconverts DVDs, and they look wonderful. Unless the release is a new or truly treasured favorite, I don't think I'd contemplate replacing my entire DVD library with high-def discs.

To me, that means DVD could be around for some time to come, and HD discs could prove to be more like the old laserdisc business that coexisted with VHS.

Studios and DVD producers will have to come up with next-generation extras that are truly revolutionary compared to the old DVD supplemental materials to make HD discs a format that consumers consider a must-have.

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