Dear Minister Moore,
One of my professors at Ryerson alerted me today to the fact that not all Digital to Analogue converter boxes are able to output an HD signal.
For example, my Zinwell ZAT-970A (see August 26/10 posting) only outputs 480i/480p, even if the input signal is 720p/1080i. That SDTV logo on the converter makes more sense now. When I first saw it I thought, “that can’t mean Standard Definition….it’s a digital receiver”!
If a viewer only ever plans on watching television on their old analogue CRT set, then this of course is not an issue.
However, if viewers (like me) plan to eventually patch their converter box into a computer monitor, an HD video projector or a mobile phone, they won’t be able to output an HD signal from the tuner. They will be forced to buy a premium converter at a premium cost.
It might be a good idea to alert Canadians to this difference via mandatory clear labeling on packaging and/or your forthcoming(?) digital transition PSAs.
In my case, all I could find (after 2.5 hours of driving) was an SD box. It was unfortunate that the retailer didn’t stock both SD and HD boxes, or alert me to the fact that the box I was buying for $80 couldn’t output an HD signal.
If viewers don’t know to ask for HD boxes they won’t demand them from retailers.
There are clearly more pressing aspects of the digital transition to worry about but this SD/HD converter box matter is yet another example of how Canada’s television transition is not as simple as the Government of Canada seems to believe.