I read an interesting piece on Bit-tech today, in it the author goes to great length to tell the world how well off he is without an HDTV and how he doesn't really need one even for the Xbox 360 that he doesn't have yet. Why buy an HDTV?, there's hardly any programming and the games look just fine on the TV he proudly bought 6 years ago.
First, there are several things I agree with him on. There has been much misinformation spread about how HDTV works, whether or not you'll see a benefit to your next generation games without an HDTV, etc. Anyone who tells you they can't tell the difference between Xbox and Xbox 360 games no matter what the TV, is blind or simply trying to attract attention. Comparing screenshots of ports is only relevant if you are planning on buying your next gen console to play last gen games. Also, there is somewhat limited HDTV programming available, especially in England where the writer appears to be from, which besides being overrun by wolves is also only just recently starting to have HD broadcasts become available.
With all that, you might start to think, why should I buy an HDTV? Here's why.
Even going back to Xbox and PS2, in the games that support it, the higher resolution of HDTV really makes things pop off the screen at you. Microsoft making HDTV support standard on 360 games doesn't kill the SDTV, it just makes sure people with HDTV's get what they are paying for and should be applauded. With bigger and better games on the horizon, the benefit of HDTV will only increase as programmers add even more detailed visual effects to games. For people with big screen TV's the difference is even more stark, the higher resolution allows you to sit closer and enjoy the picture more. When you're reading the advertisements in NYC through the glass roof of your Koenigsegg CCR, you'll thank me.
Yes some game companies have had issues, but what has not been mentioned is that other games like Condemned and PGR3 included sample images to assist gamers in adjusting their settings for the best possible viewing, HDTV or not. It all comes back to the same thing, support well designed games and the game makers will get it together.
As far as programming goes, I'm sure that once the World Cup rolls around our European friends will be singing a different tune, what Janet Jackson's breast did for high definition in the US, "real" football will do over there. If you live in the US, your favorite program probably is recorded in high definition, and may include an Easter Egg or two. High definition movies are a must for any movie buff, HD brings the theater home, you can pour sticky pop and crumbs beneath your seat just to get the full effect.
I'm rather saddened that he feels people with HDTV's have said he "sucks" for not having one, thats certainly not HDBeat readers. We know the many challenges SD people face in their day to day life and have no wish to pile on. I used to be the same way, after seeing smeary pixelated HDTV broadcasts of the NCAA Mens Basketball tournament 5 years ago, I was impressed by how much more I could see, but not moved to purchase one. I only bought my TV two years ago because I got a great deal.
The fact is, today, if your argument against purchasing an HDTV is the price, then that is simply inaccurate, as CRT prices continue to plunge, and LCD prices will do the same next year. Anyone who can afford to buy an Xbox 360 premium system, can afford to buy an HDTV, you don't have to spend $2000, perfectly good TV's can be had for less than $1000 or even $500 depending on your preferred technology. Market penetration will go up markedly as people become amazed at what they can buy for less.
Once you have one, there is no question. One episode of Sunrise Earth on Discovery and it is a wrap; with home improvement, detective shows, and increasing use of HD by independent filmmakers there is no doubt that this year you'll see what you're looking for in high definition.
HDTV's time is now, and I'd like to cordially Mr. Caines across the pond for a visit, if he can go back to life without high definition after drinking the 1080i kool-aid (it's red, the best flavor), then more power to him. 2006 is going to be the year that everyone says "wow, I didn't know high definition made such a big difference, but now I understand", just wait.