TV Choices, Mandates: Proceed With Caution

Next Feb. 17 marks the transition to digital television, or DTV. How does this affect the hotelier?

Televisions that are analog-only (no digital tuner) and receive a signal off-air (from an antenna) will not work without a converter. These same televisions should continue to work on cable and satellite but in a very short time many programs and movies will not display in the correct aspect ratio. Also, content produced for HDTVs will not display properly on CRT models, creating a bad customer experience.

There are several benefits to the new DTV broadcast system, including a stunningly clear and detailed picture, improved sound and more content choice. However, the urgent need for the transition became clear on Sept. 11, 2001 when terrorist attacks affected communications between emergency services compromised by overwhelmed circuits. Congress mandated the conversion to all-digital television broadcasting to free up frequencies for public safety communications.

A wide range of commercial televisions specifically designed for hospitality are the best choice for several reasons. Commercial televisions have been designed to operate in a hotel environment and while they share the same design as consumer models, they are radically different in form and function. Features including volume limitation and button disable and compatibility with existing and future infrastructure are solid reasons to buy industry-specific product.

Careful consideration must be given when choosing which commercial DTV-compatible television will work best for your company; reviewing the options available is key. Technology is a major factor in HD televisions, which more closely resemble a computer than an old-style TV.

The days of choosing between black and silver are over. A sound knowledge of the broadcast industry, pay-per-view companies, future innovations, and the ability to adapt to new solutions as they are introduced are all critical to mitigating risk of obsolescence.

Since delivery delays are a very real possibility as the deadline gets closer, it is important that hotels work closely with the television manufacturers to ensure the best product choices and plan ahead to maintain project schedules.

Jeff Wells is vice president of HotelSolutions, North America channel partner for Samsung Hospitality Televisions. Reach him at 866-341-1122 or

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