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How High-Def is High Enough?

It was just another fun story on Engadget. Yet it bothered me. Why should the fact that Sharp has a prototype LCD with 4x the resolution of current HDTVs bother me? It seems to me that companies are getting pulled into “The Next Big Thing”-ism.

The penetration of HDTVs in American homes is reportedly 10% or less. And yet Sharp et al are already going for higher high-definition? It is one thing to do basic R&D that will pay off in 5 to 10 years time. It is another to display a working prototype. Television still hasn’t fully adopted high-def. And it is probably still too early for HD-DVD and Blu-ray. Then again, tech companies are probably hoping the early release of these formats will promote HDTVs and quicken their proliferation.

So how long will the current generation of HD last. Five years? Ten? It’s hard for me to guess. As companies make annual iterations of their products, from iPods to televisions, and the tech space becomes predictable, companies will want larger jumps. They will push amazing new products with huge advancements and sexy headlines — even if the public isn’t ready for it.

When are these companies going to slow down and smell the roses? Stop the excessive futurism and improve the present? I’d rather have a cheaper and improved version of a current gadget then a brand new technology with a new set of problems and a cost far from affordable. One sizable leap in technology every five to ten years is enough for me. What we don’t need are new paradigms of this and that every other year. Don’t you agree?

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