A High-Tech, High-Stakes HDTV Gamble


High-definition television is touted as the entertainment breakthrough of the 1990s. Giant screens with twice the sharpness of current sets, richer colors and compact-disc quality sound to boot—the prospect has some consumers fingering their remote-control buttons in anticipation. But if HDTV has couch potatoes on edge, ready to shell out $2,500 or more for the first generation of sets, it has much of the U.S. communications and electronics industries in a tizzy. American business is so far behind in developing HDTV that it may never be able to catch up. At stake, quite simply, are billions of dollars in potential profits. But the risks are high, too, and may not be worth taking.

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