I was invited by fellow blogger and technologist Darren Barefoot to attend a media event at the local Future Shop. It was going to be a debate between two individuals concerning the future of HDTV. On one side of the panel was Leo Laporte, who you may know from his absurdly loud shirts and terrible parties. On the other side of the panel was Amber MacArthur, a CityNews International personality known for her Popnology segments and Webnation television program. Moderating the discussion was Tod Maffin of CBC.

They touched on a number of topics from expensive cables to mounting televisions over your fireplace, but most of this information is already common knowledge for any geeks in the audience. I guess the debate, much like Future Shop’s philosophy, is geared toward the ignorant mainstream consumer (as represented by Tod Maffin). Tod’s love for calibration tools arose as did Leo’s fascination with Halo 3. By and large, Leo defended the brilliance of plasma TVs whereas Amber showed her support for LCDs, particularly those by Samsung. Here are a few tidbits that they mentioned:

  • LCDs are better in brightly lit rooms and as secondary “lifestyle” televisions; plasmas are superior in dimly lit rooms and for truer home theatre arrangements.
  • Monster Cables are a rip off and you shouldn’t buy them unless you have a “long throw.”
  • Look out for the development of 4K resolutions, providing a picture four times as detailed as 1080p HDTV, in 10-20 years. This represents 2000+ horizontal lines compared to the current 1000 lines.
  • DLP is not dead. Instead, it’s shooting for the high-end, particularly with front projection. A nice DLP setup can get very pricey.
  • Plasmas are better for gaming simply because of their superior refresh rates and contrast ratios. Just make sure you’re in a dim room.
  • The best plasma TVs are made by “the two Ps”: Pioneer and Panasonic.
  • Up-converting DVD players are worth the money, even if your TV does up-sampling too.
  • How your HDTV handles lower resolution signals is just as important as how it handles high-definition content.
  • Leo likes to talk (and dominate conversations) more than Amber.

Anyways, here are two videos that I took at the event. The first discusses LCD vs. plasma, response time, gaming, and resolutions. The second talks about which TV is better, expensive cables, and the death of boob tubes.

Probably the most notable attendee among the live audience (the debate was also streamed live onto the Internet) was local personality Buzz Bishop. You might know him from his technology column or from his DJ duties at Z95.3 95 Crave. He stayed pretty quiet and well behaved.