Tuning Fork

Actions Speak Louder Than HDTV

by Brian L. Clark

Often, the best advice is not what someone says but rather, what someone does. For example, as a technophile, you've probably read any number of columnists' opinions on HDTV—some may have included quotes from well-known industry analysts. Well I thought it would be interesting to see what TV technologies some of these journalists and analysts actually have at home, so I sent out a simple email to inquire. Their responses might surprise you.

Ross Rubin, Director of Industry Analysis, NPD
"I have five TVs, not including an old Casio handheld. Only two (a 36" and a 27") are currently connected to a cable box. A third (a 13" model that had a built-in VCR) is connected up solely for previewing edited video and a fourth (27") is used almost exclusively for video games and DVDs. The last one is an old 20" that I may redeploy to another room.

They are all CRTs and none are HD. Much of this was due to their being purchased before HD was even available and my not watching that much television since my son was born almost two years ago. Furthermore, few of my favorite shows are available in HD; I'm not a big sports fan. I'll likely purchase my first HDTV early next year.

I'd prefer to go with a microdisplay technology such as DLP or SXRD, but may be swayed by another household decision-making constituency who would likely prefer a smaller and slimmer LCD flat-panel."

Michelle Abraham, Senior Analyst, In-Stat
"3 TVs, one 2001 CRT rear projection HDTV monitor, the other 2 analog CRTs from the early 90s. In 2001 when I bought the CRT, RPTV was the best deal for the size my husband required. We were replacing an analog RPTV and it made no sense to buy another one. DLP RPTVs had been out in the market a few months but cost over $10K, so that was not an option.

I'm still waiting to replace the other two. Prices will keep coming down so I'll likely continue to wait and wait and wait...unless one of them breaks. Too much knowledge tends to hold me back from purchasing."

I mentioned to Michelle that few of the folks I'd heard from at that point actually had HDTV.

Her response: "You may find it more from too much knowledge than a technology choice. Back when I did PC research, the members of the PC group had the oldest home PCs in the company because we were always waiting for the next quarter's new technology or price declines before we bought a new one. In the meantime, the quarters rolled on by."

Kurt Scherf, VP & Principal Analyst, Parks Associates
"The Scherf Household is a late-adopter household. We have three TVs, but none of them HDTV."

David Naranjo, Analyst, Formerly of DisplaySearch
"You would be surprised to find out how many in the business (analysts, product managers, VPs, etc.) actually have a HDTV Plasma or LCD in their house. It is not as many as you might think. I am one of those that do not have either flat screen technology. I have seven TVs in my house, and they are all CRTs (including a 32" HDTV)."

David Pogue, The New York Times Columnist & Winner of the "Tuning Fork Most Technologically Advanced Award"
"Our main TV is an LCD set (1080p high-def), chosen because it's in a very bright room, all windows, where a plasma wouldn't do well.

We also have an older, 34" CRT, also widescreen high-def, now in my office. Ordinarily, I'd consider two HD sets a bit [of] overkill, but having two types/brands is very useful in my job, which entails testing and reviewing high-def camcorders, DVD players, services, etc."

Lance Ulanoff, Columnist & Reviews Editor, PC Magazine
"I am a bust in this arena. I have three TVs, all CRTS (waiting to buy flat panels until my construction and painting is done). None of them are HD.

I know I want one for my den and am seriously considering a 32-inch LCD from Vizio (costs around $800 from Costco), but I need to get the room sanded and painted first."

David Elrich, co-founder of Etown & Contributor to TWICE
"I have a "mere" two: An older 36" CRT and a 4:3 36" HDTV (1080i). My next TV will most likely be the 65" plasma (1080P native). 1080P native is the only type of TV to buy in 2006."

Walt Mossberg, Tech Columnist, The Wall Street Journal (He declined to participate in the overall survey but did, however, offer his thoughts on why CRT still seems to be the choice of people who know.) "Digital flat panels do a horrible job of displaying standard analog TV, and that's still most of TV."

The moral of the story: Many of these folks are still waiting to get a TV at the right price, while others are waiting for the technology to improve prior to making their move. Sound advice, I think.