Home > Clint's Blog > I’m Betting My Parents Don’t Have HD – VOTE!

I’m Betting My Parents Don’t Have HD – VOTE!

December 23rd, 2007

Me, my wife and kids are heading out to Pennsylvania (“PA”) today for Christmas to visit my parents and the rest of my side of the family. My parents bought an HDTV earlier this year and my father told me he didn’t see much difference between the HD channels and the regular stations. I went through all the things I normally do when someone says something utterly astonishing to me like this, however he insists that he has everything configured correctly…

Now here’s the deal. Let’s play a game. I’ll give several possible scenarios here and you, the read, pick one and post your choice. I’ll even give you an option to make up your own choice. After Christmas, when I resolve the problem I’ll log back on and post my findings. Let’s see who gets the right answer…

Here’ are the possibilities (the one thing I know is that they actually have an HDTV):

  • Option 1: They have an HDTV and an HD cable box but the genius who set it all up used a composite or s-video cable
  • Option 2: They have an HDTV, but they didn’t get an actual HD cable box
  • Option 3: They have an HDTV, HD cable box, component cables, but the box is set to SD output resolution only
  • Option 4: They have an HDTV, HD cable box, component cables, and correctly configured cable box but since they sit about 18-20 feet away from a 60-inch screen they simply can’t tell the difference
  • Option 5: Their standard definition cableTV is really freaking awesome.
  • Option 6: Something Clint didn’t think of…

OK, let ‘er rip. I’ll check back after Christmas and tell you what’s what.

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  1. STRONGBADF1
    December 23rd, 2007 at 10:27 | #1

    Hi Clint,

    Option #1 or #4….I’m goning with Option #4. Simple mistake by someone who was rushing to get their work done.

    Where in PA…not very cold or white for Chrismas in the south east.

    SBF1

  2. majorloser
    December 23rd, 2007 at 10:46 | #2

    Usually I’d vote for Option #1 since that’s what ALL cable installers do. But in this case I’ll vote for Option #6. I’ll bet they normally watch SD native broadcast programming so they won’t see anything different.

  3. December 23rd, 2007 at 13:35 | #3

    I say – Option 3: They have an HDTV, HD cable box, component cables, but the box is set to SD output resolution only

    ‘Cuz er.. I’ve been there… aha!

  4. Hi Ho
    December 23rd, 2007 at 14:37 | #4

    Assuming the person who sold them the TV told them to get an HD box and they heeded his advice… I say option three. I see it every day (not an exaggeration). Comcast installers no nothing about HDTV. They use the provided component cables and do nothing in the box service menu which default to 480i.

  5. Davemcc
    December 23rd, 2007 at 15:42 | #5

    I’m going to suggest that they have their TV set to full screen or zoom so that SD takes up the whole screen. They probably also sit far enough from the TV that the difference in resolution between HD and SD not much of an issue. Both my cable and satellite installers have made sure I had proper HD before they left, so I’m not so quick to blame them.

  6. December 23rd, 2007 at 21:29 | #6

    I vote that they have the component cable hooked up to the red, white and yellow outputs…..

    Merry Christmas, Clint!

  7. December 23rd, 2007 at 22:58 | #7

    I’m going with #1

  8. IamAhab
    December 24th, 2007 at 01:39 | #8

    They’re old and most likley have poor eye-sight. I vote #4.

  9. December 24th, 2007 at 03:47 | #9

    I’ll go with #6. It’s not usually some standard thing we think of when diagnosing problems like this. It’s usually some mix of the things we think it might be.

    Alternatives:
    – They bought a DLP TV and the rainbow effect is so bad that they are having micro seizures and can’t really think or perceive the TV correctly.
    – They know you like HDTVs and stuff so they set it up wrong on purpose to make you feel useful when you come visit.
    – They bought you some Bose speakers for Christmas because the commercial on Discovery HD said how cool they were and they were blinded by marketing!

    Valid alternatives:
    Their cable company has mostly SD content on their digital channels and they think Digital means HD. It’s possible their Cable box is routing through another device before it gets to the TV. Maybe the settings AND cables are both wrong. Or, maybe Option 5. My parents watched SD cable on a 27″ tv, and it looks decent, but when they went to a 40″ TV, HD looked about the same because of a similar pixel density per inch.

  10. December 24th, 2007 at 11:13 | #10

    I vote 3. That’s an easy one to miss.

  11. jnmfox
    December 25th, 2007 at 23:52 | #11

    I also vote 3. I had something similar happen at my parents-in-law yesterday. They just bought a new HD TV and new HD DVR. The DVR was hooked up to the TV via composite and HDMI. They of course were watching it through the composite input and were telling me how great HD looked on their new TV. I switched the input to the HDMI and they went “ohhhh”

  12. annunaki
    December 26th, 2007 at 14:29 | #12

    Option #6

    My guess is that they are using the Television’s internal tuner to change the stations. They were most likely used to doing it that way before and have not changed, even if they have an HD cable box. They are using the analog tuner only and are simply watching standard SD content.

    There is so little information given that it is very difficult to even venture an accurate diagnosis. Having the HDTV is the only known variable. They may not have a cable box at all!?

  13. December 26th, 2007 at 14:30 | #13

    most of the cable installers I’ve met have been pretty competent about setting up the boxes and using the right cables for HD. I vote for option #4 or #6. It’s quite possible that option #6 would be the TV calibration (ie. sharpness, brightness, contrast set too high, auto correction and picture enhancements enabled) is all out of whack making a good picture unattainable regardless of the input source.

  14. Jeff L
    December 26th, 2007 at 15:36 | #14

    I am guessing either the box is set to standard def, or when they switched to an HD channel it was only standard def programming at the time.

  15. Rob
    December 27th, 2007 at 09:04 | #15

    Option #6: I’ll bet they were watching daytime television – most of which is recorded in SD. You can have the HDTV, the HD cable box, component or HDMI cables and be tuned to a HD channel, but if the show itself was recorded in SD, then it’s still going to look like SD.

  16. December 28th, 2007 at 11:27 | #16

    And the winner is…. #4. Everything was hooked up correctly but they simply didn’t feel HDTV was significantly better than SD. They also had the SD stretched to fill the entire width of the screen (this is a rear projection DLP by Mitsubishi.)

    Observations:

    1. Color temp was set to High on all used inputs
    2. Sharpness was jacked up to almost max on all used inputs (really only affected SD)
    3. My parents switched between the full screen version of Shrek and the widescreen version (back and forth) and could not tell the difference. My Mom, for example could not see that Shrek and Fiona were “fat” on the stretched full screen DVD vs the widescreen version playing (the same scene) on HDTV.

    If we think the “real world” is like us, we should apparently re-evaluate our thinking.

    I for one feel that I learned a lot from this experience.

  17. AustinM
    December 28th, 2007 at 11:56 | #17

    My heart breaks a little every time I hear things like this.

  18. Jeff L
    December 28th, 2007 at 14:11 | #18

    Wow, were you able to educate them some and point out the differences?

  19. December 28th, 2007 at 16:51 | #19

    I tried REAL hard. The bottom line is that they see the differences, but don’t really care. It’s just not an issue.

    The market is all but forcing them into HD – they didn’t really see the need. So much so, that my Dad debates whether it’s worth the additional $7/month.

  20. Rob
    December 28th, 2007 at 23:16 | #20

    I think it’s important to consider a little history. My parents, for example, are in their late 60’s. They can both easily recount stories of what television was like in their childhood. THAT is what they compare all television to. My mom can describe what it was like the first time she saw colour television. My dad can tell you what it was like to fiddle with rabbit ears for 15 minutes just to get a static filled picture that still amazed everyone watching! When you compare modern television to that, the difference between SD and HD really isn’t much at all, let alone DVD vs. HD.

  21. December 31st, 2007 at 19:20 | #21

    It blows my mind….and not in a good way. It is rather depressing. And I hate to say it, but I think (as Clint says) that his parents represent a HUGE chunk of the population on this.

  22. January 1st, 2008 at 15:20 | #22

    Well, if it makes you all feel better, my parents recently tried out a 40″ plasma TV, and they COULD tell the difference. In fact, the difference was so clear, that they got really ticked off when they had to watch stuff in SD. My mom was so mad that 95% of the stuff she watched was in SD, she sent the TV back. I tried to explain that The Waltons, etc., will not ever be in HD since it wasn’t recorded like that. She didn’t like that explanation and wanted it all to look like HD. Anyway, they just went back to the 27″ tube tv, and SD stuff looks better on it since it is smaller, but they were kind of bummed out that Football isn’t in HD any longer. They are going to wait a year or so to see if LCD prices drop, then try again and maybe switch their crappy analog cable over to HD satellite service. Yeah, they will be forced into it, but at least they can tell the difference. Did I mention that my mom has a hot temper? *grin*

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