Mike Higgins: The telly is not a bit of kit, it's a a family friend

I can't even see the screen, so what point hi-techery?

Related Topics

I watched some television on Christmas Day. Or at least I tried to, through the back of my one-year-old's head as she stood three inches from the screen in a bid to redefine the notion of "immersive" viewing. And for a moment, I wavered: what would it be like, I thought, to have a "home cinema", watching Doctor Who on a screen the size of a snooker table, showing an image of such gob-smacking resolution that you could tell when David Tennant last flossed?

But the wavering was quite hard to keep up for very long – over the top of Doctor Who, Grandma was telling me about her finest hauls at TK Maxx this year. Watching telly, I therefore tried to remind myself in my slightly drunken glow, isn't really about my Panasonic's "unique image-analysis processors" delivering ever-sharper visual "fidelity". It is, as any of the Royle family will tell you as soon as EastEnders is over, a bit of a get-together round any box with half-decent reception.

And, comfortingly, it's clear that millions of others feel the same. Last week came the news that Sony is worried that not enough of us are buying their Blu-ray DVD players or the high-definition discs to play in them: the players only accounted for 12 per cent of the market in western Europe this year, which is bad news, apparently. Are we refusing to embrace the most up-to-date (and most costly) viewing technology because we're just a bunch of neo-Luddites?

Perhaps. It took nearly a decade for the DVD player, with all its whizz bang knobs and dials, to kill off the VHS player. DVD triumphed, eventually. But the recent advent of the new "high-definition" (HD) viewing systems shows that it rarely pays to be – jargon alert! – an early adopter.

Earlier this month the BBC had to deal with complaints when viewers of its HD channel claimed that the picture quality had deteriorated; the BBC responded with some flannel about bit-rates and encoding, but the grumbling continues.

Down at the pictures, it's quite different: digital projection is increasingly common in cinemas and we'll apparently flock to any film with "3D" in the title. But that's because someone else is footing the bill for the kit, presumably. At home, though, industry analysts say that we're happy to put up with "good enough" tellies and DVD players, and then shake their heads in disappointment.

And neither is the recession entirely to blame. In fact, if you're sitting there reading this between glimpses at a cathode-ray telly showing a DVD you cadged off a Sunday paper a couple of years ago and on a player you got for £50, you're not that far from the leading edge of 21st-century audio-visual technology: the "good-enough" credo.

The iPod, for all its genius, uses none-too-faithful MP3 sound files; the iPlayer is watched by and large on rubbish computer screens; and internet phone calls can be iffy, suffering from lag and prone to sudden termination. Each values convenience over high fidelity, and found mass audiences for technology that is good enough, and no more.

(By the way, as a plodding good-enougher, I would never have spotted this trend on my own. I read about it in Wired magazine.)

Cue the next home entertainment revolution: 3D TV. Sky has begun trialling this, and by some accounts it's pretty good, particularly for sport. But let's fast-forward a few years, to Christmas Day 2015. The six-year-old has pulled the 3D set-top box off the telly for the three-year-old to see out of the window better. Grandma has sat on a pair of 3D specs (£50 a pop?). And Grandpa is sitting at the wrong angle and can see four Doctor Whos but only in D. It's just not good enough, is it?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Delivery and Support Manager

£55000 - £75000 per annum + excellent benefits: Harrington Starr: Service Deli...

Corporate Tax Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL ...

Relationship Manager

£500 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Relationship Manager, London, Banking, Accountant...

Marketing & PR Assistant - NW London

£15 - £17 per hour: Ashdown Group: Marketing & PR Assistant - Kentish Town are...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Turkey and Qatar must step up the fight against Isis

Benedict Greening

Should America pay Isis ransom money to free hostages like James Foley?

Kim Sengupta
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home