For the past 30 years or so, everything around us has been moving to digital. Watches, stereos, computers, and nearly every device we use that is powered by electricity. The one area that has lagged behind has been television - but that is about to change. The first digital broadcasts in Hong Kong were begun by Now TV four years ago. Soon, ATV and TVB will be able to broadcast high definition (HD) programmes that will require a digital signal. Initially there will be limited, specialist programmes in HD. Over time, this will pick up but most people believe it will be years before it is pervasive. PCCW's Now TV has been broadcasting HD programmes for several months and the range is constantly expanding. Although the whole point of digital television is to enable HD, digital does not mean HD. Now TV's broadcasts until a short time ago were standard definition (SDTV), but sent to households digitally, and that is why a decoder was required. The man responsible for a great deal of what Now TV has accomplished is Paul Berriman, the chief technology officer of PCCW. Mr Berriman is well aware of the special characteristics of Hong Kong. 'We are not like Britain or other places with a large geographical area to cover. Hong Kong has many high-rise buildings in a very confined space and that means we are sending a lot of information to these buildings and much will depend on the in-building cabling,' he said. If the cabling is not good - and much of it is indeed very old - people may not get the kind of reception they will be happy with. The issues with broadcast quality delivery of HD content will take a while to be worked out but, in the meantime, viewers can prepare for other forms of HD content. The biggest provider of true HD content for the foreseeable future is most likely going to be new technologies such as Blu-Ray disc, High definition DVD and others. Cheng Kung-sing, is the senior business manager for Philips Consumer Electronics and he believes it is important for consumers to be aware of what they are buying. 'There is HD-ready and there is True HD,' he said. 'The one will give you an HD image but with nearly 20 per cent of the data missing, the other will give you everything.' According to Ken Ng, the merchandising controller at Fortress, customers are quite savvy about the technology and products related to HD. Still, his sales staff is constantly being trained to understand the latest offerings. 'Since our promotion campaigns for HD digital audio and video products were launched, we have continually offered training courses to our frontline sales staff to provide them with the latest information and all necessary knowledge on HD technology and products. Also, individual suppliers provide regular product briefings to keep us updated,' he said.