High definition or bust
High definition is here to stay, but will format issues slow adoption?
Chances are that anyone who has visited Best Buy, Circuit City or Media Markt in the past few months saw a variety of flat screen technology options, including 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. Here at CES, it's clear that 1080p is here to stay and growing in dominance as THE screen resolution.
My guess is that 720p and 1080i days are numbered and that retailers will be purging their inventories of the technology (this could mean some great deals in the months to come, but keep in mind that you'll be buying antiquated technology). The one exception may be the entry level HD displays where 720p may continue for a while.
Back to 1080p, the sheer variety of devices that support this standard is stunning (cameras, DVD players, TVs, etc.). I also saw a wide array of "plumbing" options that support high-quality resolution, including HDMI and wireless. HDMI cables are cleaning up the jumble of component video and audio cables. At the same time, device manufactures are starting to introduce HD wireless interconnect technologies that promise to eliminate all the cables other than power.
While high definition devices are the buzz of the show, the format debates continue. Major technology and entertainment companies disclosed HD content plans and partnerships at the show. It seems to me that most consumers will wait to make the jump to high definition players and DVDs until the dispute is settled and a clear winner emerges at an affordable price. Meanwhile, prices on high definition DVDs are coming down and price points are similar to when DVDs first came to the mainstream market. High definition players are still a bit high for most consumers. However, game consoles and other media extenders that support on-demand HD media streams in the home are overcoming some consumer issues with how to distribute and view their HD content throughout the home.
Putting the standards debate aside, high definition technology is renewing interest and excitement for gadgets and devices. HD is delivering on our expectations for realistic images and blurring the line between digital content and what our eyes perceive as the resolution of nature. And connection options for those HDTVs are empowering end-users to easily create sophisticated networks that center around the TV.
Phil Hester is senior vice president and chief technology officer (CTO) at AMD, responsible for setting the architectural and product strategies and plans for AMD's microprocessor business.