South African consumers shopping over the Christmas season for that “perfect gift” – a Full High Definition (FHD) with 1080p x 1920 resolution are to think hard about parting with their hard-earned money (cash or plastic). Luxury goods such as LCD Television sets take centre stage in all the major stores with their “walls” of LCD displays enticing the shopper to buy the biggest and the “best”. In South Africa our public broadcasting system is still analogue with the switchover to digital infrastructure scheduled for 2013. This means that the FHD television set you are about to (or have purchased) will not be able to receive, decode and display the digital signals since they all have built-in analogue receivers.
Very few, if any, of the FHD Television sets instore have digital receivers. In fact, in a store of about 15 branded models, not one had a digital receiver built in. When pressed, the salesperson eventually admitted that they did not “order” nor “stock” models with digital (or both types) TV signal receivers. Electronic store owners are fully aware that the switch-over is already being piloted in certain parts of the country and that the switch-over is just around the corner. Yet, they continue to stock and sell analogue-only television displays. Of course, they reckon, the choice is yours – whether to buy “old” technology or not. Their “obligation” is to simply “supply” the “demand”….
Here’s the sell
One of the reasons why FHD LCD Television display prices have dropped so dramatically is probably due to such “old” technology flooding the South African market. Sure, you can plug your blu-ray player into the full high-definition display and watch your movies as “you’ve never seen them before” but if you plan to use it to view public broadcasting signals after 2013 in South Africa, you’ll be out of luck. If you are not one of those fortunate enough to have a satellite dish receiver hooked up to a decoder unscrambling digital signals (Pay Channel), your “bunny ears” aerial will have to be replaced and you’ll have to buy a “set-top” box. Set-top boxes will have to be purchased and plugged in to convert the digital signal into analogue signals for display on “old” television sets. The FHD LCD Televisions sets in store now, will be such “old” sets in 2013.
If the plan is to buy a full HD display, rather opt for a “monitor” – a High Definition LCD display without a built-in TV tuner. Make sure that it’s got more than one HDMI connector and as well as a D-Sub (PC) connector and, if you are lucky, an S3-video and AVI connectors. Get hold of an HD Media player that you plug into the FHD monitor to watch your movie files. If you are able to get a media player with a built-in DVD (or Blu-Ray) player, you have a fully functional Home Media Entertainment Hub. Better still, grab an old PC with a DVD ROM and install XBMC on it.
Once electronic stores start stocking FHD LCDs with digital tuners, hold on to your money a little longer until the prices sag, then grab a “modern” television set. And … if you are lucky the new sets might even be capable of receiving the next generation of TV signals – Ultra-High Definition (probably just wishful thinking).