HDTV sets and calibration

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Technology
March 16th, 2005 • 2:27 am

This article in the Los Angeles Times is a rather discouraging read. It turns out that high-definition TV sets are complex machines that, like a computer monitor, require some degree of calibration in order to produce optimal results.

I don’t have a high-definition TV set yet — not enough of the stuff that I like to watch is available in HDTV, and the sets are still too expensive as far as I am concerned. In addition, current PVR units are not able to record HDTV signals — and I most definitely need a PVR unit more than I need HDTV at this point in time.

So why is this article a discouraging read? Not because the sets require calibration. It’s not particularly surprising. No, what’s discouraging is that you need to hire someone to do the calibration for you. It probably has quite a bit to do with experience and having a “trained eye” for these things. But I suspect that it also has to do with the fact — hinted at in the article — that the available software for calibrating the sets is so poor that an expert is indeed required to do it.

Fortunately for us Mac users, Mac OS X comes with the Display Calibrator Assistant, which does a pretty good job of guiding the ordinary user through the various tests required to calibrate the monitor. I strongly suspect that the software included in HDTV sets is nowhere near as user-friendly. One of these days, I will dive in and purchase a high-definition TV set. And then I will probably have to cope with yet another electronic device with atrociously poor software in my house.

It’s a situation that is getting worse every year. More and more electronic devices are so complex that they require a user interface. And unfortunately, most of these user interfaces are not designed by user interface experts, far from it. So you frequently end up spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a premium piece of equipment — and it comes with lousy software. That’s the 21st century for you.

It really makes you wish that Apple would enter new markets! And maybe they will one day… After all, the iPod is a tremendous success. One can always hope…

2 Responses to “HDTV sets and calibration”

  1. LoonyPandora says:

    Reminds me of the days when you had to get engineers to calibrate regular TV’s – messing with valves and stuff!

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    That’s what the guy in the article says… Before my time, though! :)

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