Daily Blog – Piero Gabucci – February 26, 2008: CONFUSED WORLD

About a year ago a friend asked me to help him set up his 78 year old mother’s new 32” LCD. I was more than happy to help, although since then I’ve set up his two sister’s systems too. As we unpacked the panel I was shocked by this woman’s questions: “Are you using an HDMI cable, are all the channels in 16 x 9?”

I went on to explain to her that since she didn’t have a sound system, (I watch mostly the news and documentaries she said) and that HDMI was preferred from her cablebox to the LCD, it wasn’t completely necessary as component would do the trick (that’s all I had with me!). Then she floored me again; “But I won’t get 1080p from component?” I said not to worry, your cable company isn’t sending you 1080p content, yet.

My God, we’ve arrived I thought – an elderly woman had all the right questions.

Another friend recently called and gloated that he had just purchased a state-of-the-art 60” plasma TV and wanted some information about HDMI, this is a common trend these days. After I made my suggestions I asked what audio gear he planned, he shocked me too: “Oh I’m not into that!” Here was a 35 year old who knew enough to buy the right display and get the best cables to take full advantage of video, yet he had no desire to watch in surround.

A dissertation to explain to him that he’s losing out on half the experience seemed futile at the moment, and I was late for a meeting anyway.

A third (and final friend for purposes of this discussion) asked me to set up his new receiver and 52” panel with his surround speakers. He invested in a Blu-ray player (Sony) as well so I thought it would be fun to do. I don’t have my Saturday’s to myself anyway.

After all was set up and we ran all the right cables, he was mortified that he couldn’t get his HDMI to give him lossless audio. I showed him that it had to be Linear PCM but I assured him that it was fine. He didn’t buy my argument – he wanted to see the familiar DTS or Dolby Digital across the face of his receiver (a Denon AVR 3806), not Multi Channel. I think to this day, several months later he’s still tinkering trying to find out why.

I found this to be an interesting cross-section of people that shows we’re all over the place with home A/V. It wasn’t a surprise that video is still far ahead in terms of what people want – sexy new flat panels. I was disappointed that 2 of the 3 had no interest in audio and the third probably read way too much for his own good.

I can’t wait for the digital switch next year, I’ll be the busiest “friend” around.