Saying goodbye to SCARTs

SCART sockets are needed by European viewers to connect their DVD players and other devices into some sort of TV set. Except new devices tend now to have HDMI connectors. When might SCART sockets vanish?

SCART connectors were a French invention (Syndicat des Constructeurs d'Appareils Radiorécepteurs et Téléviseurs) although the French themselves call them Péritel devices. We may loathe them but at least they’ve made hooking up assorted pieces of home video equipment a little more straightforward. But a recent Rapid TV News HDTV Round Table examined the whole question of SCARTs, asking when High Definition Multimedia Interfaces mighth take the place of SCARTs.

SCARTs first appeared in Europe in 1977, and were obligatory on all TV sets sold in France from 1980. While viewers welcomed the ease of connection, they grumbled about the heavy and inflexible leads, and their frequent inability to stay connected!

Andrew Ward, Pace’s VP/Sales admitted they represented a difficult and expensive challenge for the set-top box industry. “Most people have other devices within their systems at home which require SCART connectivity. But if you are looking at developing markets where flat panel televisions will soon dominate, then the question has to be asked as to why we would add expensive SCART sockets when they are no longer needed. It’s a cost that we can do without and we can save many dollars in the process. But we’d love for someone to come and ask us for a box without that SCART socket but it hasn’t happened yet. Certainly there were a couple of products at IBC but nobody’s ordered one yet. It has to come at some point.”

Roger Bolton, EVP at Tandberg Television, said putting bandwidth into the home is much easier that supplying bandwidth to the home. “It’s relatively easy to network your home. Several operators have ‘networked homes’ products and others have them coming through and these usually require a Master Box as the gateway into the home with slave boxes controlled by the Master. The network itself can be Ethernet or wireless or co-axial.”

Ward said Pace had been showing home networking solutions for a number of years. “However we see different markets adopting different solutions. The USA is very co-axial cable focused while Europe and most other developed markets favour wireless. Setting up a wireless network is easier for most people and our advice to any operator considering supplying this sort of service would be to go for a dual solution in order to provide the sort of flexibility and reliability that European homes demand. Getting the software from A to B is easily done today. The challenge is in building an attractive and easy to use interface that is error-free for consumers at home.”