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Wednesday Morning Quarterback: The Visual Argument for HD
Jun 25th, 2008 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

This coming Friday will finally bring me back to civilization and cable television, which brings with it the ability to finally watch sporting events reliably on television, a luxury I haven’t been able to enjoy for about four years. More importantly for me, it also brings with it the ability to watch games in High Definition.

I know plenty of people who just don’t get the point of HD. To them there is no real, compelling reason to watch television at a higher resolution. I can think of at least three friends of mine who frequently poke fun at my HD obsession and claim that I’m basically wasting my money obsessing over it. Personally, I think that it takes a certain special something to really make the point of HD stick: sporting events.

Consider my friend Margot, a high def detractor who commonly scoffs at my obsession. We’re both fans of Lost who just started watching this year. Since the entire back catalog of Lost episodes happened to be online, we were both watching episodes off of ABC.com to eventually get up to Season 4. Once I hit Season 3, which was available on Blu-ray, I naturally started renting those discs from Blockbuster. Consider the following: ABC.com claims to broadcast Lost in HD online. Really, it just has a certain high bitrate limited by bandwidth potentially reaching up to 720p. While I think I might have hit full HD on the S1 and S2 episodes once or twice, Margot never even came close since her connection was so bad. Instead, she saw blurry, choppy, un-synched video. One final point: Lost takes place on a deserted island. It’s actually filmed in Hawaii. This results in breathtaking vistas and locales on screen. Margot came over a few times to watch some of S3 in HD and she actually seemed to think it looked quite nice. When I finally asked her “Well? Now do you see the point of High Def?” she disappointingly responded with a “Not really. I’m just glad it’s not choppy.”

What was the point of that rambling story? Not even a beautiful show like Lost can argue the case for HD. Our next case looks at my former roommate Min. He also witnessed Lost on both my computer and the Blu-ray, but while he thought it looked nice, he still wasn’t really convinced. For him the revelation came, as I predicted, through sports. This is the same roommate of mine who is thoroughly ambivalent to sports in general, yet, for some reason, watching the Celtics in the NBA championships did it for him. One day he was watching a game that the landlord forgot to turn on in HD. He told me that he was thinking “Holy cow, what happened to the broadcast?” When they finally noticed that they needed to swap to the HD broadcast, he finally saw the light with the pronounced on-screen differences.

My brothers-in-arms, as you attempt to convince your significant others or friends that the wave of the future is HD, I implore you to use sporting events as your main argument. It really is your best bet, since action movies will typically fail to convince a good portion of women and sitcoms in HD also tend to have minimal impact.

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