The number of HDTVs installed globally is set to sharply increase within the next four years

The obsession with HDTVs shows no sign of stopping according to study put out by Informa Telecoms and Media. Low pricing is seen as the key reason for the swift move by consumers to incorporate HDTVs into their homes. HD picture quality, sleek designs and the ability to mount them on walls doesn't hurt either.

The number of households worldwide with HDTVs is expected to jump from the current install base of 48 million to 151 million in 2011. Still, 151 million HDTV sets is a far cry from the current 1.2 billion SDTVs currently in service around the globe.

The study also showed that the United States and Japan are the biggest purchasers of HDTV taking in 58% and 20% respectively of the global market.

But while pricing is definitely a big factor in getting customers to make the switch to HDTVs, the pay off still isn't there for many customers. HD programming still comes up short for many people, be it over the air (OTA) or through a cable/satellite provider.

"I paid $1,399 for my HD television, $99 for an upgraded receiver, $110 for the proper cables and an extra $10 a month to a satellite provider that offers me more than 200 channels -- and only 12 of those are in HD. That's 6 percent," said Howard Bryant of The Washington Post. "The other 94 percent of programming is in the regular 4:3 format, the same as the square of your grandfather's regular old TV. That leaves six inches shaded in on the left and right of my screen because most channels are not HD-ready."

Hopefully, things will get better for owners of HDTVs between now and February 17, 2009. On that date, all OTA analog TV broadcasting will cease and OTA DTV broadcasts will rule the airwaves. The FCC is hoping to ease the transition period by mandating that all televisions produced after March 1, 2007 have a built-in HDTV/DTV tuner.

Likewise, the government has set aside $1.5 billion USD to subsidize the cost of "DTV Broadcast Converter" boxes for those still using SDTVs. Consumers will be able to apply up to two coupons per household (valued at $40 each) towards the purchase of a DTV Broadcast Converter starting on January 1, 2008. The program will end on March 31, 2009.

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