Get the FAQs on High-Definition Television (HDTV)

After having my eyes opened to the wonders of high-definition, I have been one its biggest advocates. I can remember having my first HD experience in 2001 at Circuit City. I wish I was kidding, but I actually started feeling faint I was so amazed.

During my pro-HDTV campaign I’ve encountered a couple questions from non-believers who doubt the power of the mighty HD! So, I thought I’d address a couple online to help others get up to speed on this exciting new (albeit a consciousness stealing) technology.

  • High-Definition Television (HDTV) FAQs

  • Q. What makes high-definition television (HDTV) better than standard-definition television (SDTV)?

    A. The biggest difference between HDTV and SDTV are the number scan lines displayed on the screen at one time. SDTV has a total of 525 possible scan lines. HDTV, on the other hand, has a maximum potential for 1,080 scan lines. These addition lines of resolution give HDTV the ability to display a picture 4x better than SDTV.

  • Q. What is the difference between EDTV and HDTV?

    A. Not all HDTVs are created equal. There is EDTV, enhanced-definition and HDTV, high-definition. The difference is simple: EDTVs can’t produce a 1080i picture and are less expensive than HDTVs.

  • Q. What is the difference between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios? Which is better?

    A. This ratio compares the number of horizontal pixels to vertical pixels. To find the ratio, take the number of horizontal pixels and divide it by the total number of vertical pixels.

    One reason the 16:9 ratio is preferred is due to the nature of film. When a movie is made, it is shot on film that has the same 16:9 ratio. Before 16:9, or widescreen, televisions became more widely accepted, 4:3 televisions ruled the Earth. Hollywood compensated for this by developing the pan-and-scan method where they crop each frame to fit the screen and pan-and-scan to transition between points of interest. That’s where the “This film as been modified from its original format to fit your screen” message came from.

  • Q. What is the difference between interlaced and progressive scanning?

    A. Interlaced images are created by 2-passes of a television’s electron gun. The first pass paints all odd numbered lines (1, 3, 5, etc.) in 1/60 of a second. The second pass, paints the even lines (2, 4, 6, etc.) in the same amount of time. This creates a full image in 1/30 of a second, which creates a frame rate of 30 fps at 60 Hz. Progressive scan televisions paint the image one line after the other (1, 2, 3, etc.) in 1/60 of a second.

  • Q. What are the differences between different HD display resolutions?

    A. With the National Television Systems Committee (NTSC), sometimes joked about as “never the same color,” there is one available resolution, 480i, but with HD, there are 3.

    • 480p

      This slight difference is more significant that it first appears. By transitioning from an interlaced image to a progressive one improves how objects move on the screen. With a progressive scan image, also found in computer monitors, there are fewer artifacts, or blurred edges to the on-screen image.

    • 720p

      The resolution most commonly found, displays 720 scan lines on the screen. You gain the same benefits of a progressive scan image, but get an addition boost in scan lines which improve the overall picture quality.

    • 1080i

      1,080 scan lines is the greatest HD resolution available, but it comes with a price. You get optimal picture quality at the cost of losing the benefits of progressive scanning. Again, this means that when an object moves on the screen, its movement is blurred compared to the next level of HD, 1080p.

    • 1080p

      This recent development has brought the best of both worlds to high-definition. It combines the high picture quality of 1,080 scan lines with the enhanced frame rate of progressive scanning. But as always, greatness comes with an even greater price tag.

  • Q. When will the all television be in high-definition?

    A. The FCC, who was the driving force behind the development of HDTV, has mandated that all broadcast stations convert all broadcasts to the new format by February 17, 2009. This deadline, regrettably, has been pushed back several times due to the “Chicken or the Egg” dilemma. Broadcasters don’t want to spend the money to convert to HD if consumers don’t have the televisions needed to enjoy it and consumers don’t want to buy an expensive HD television if there isn’t a significant amount of programming to enjoy it.

  • Q. Are DVDs in high-definition?

    A. Unfortunately, no. DVDs look better on an HDTV, but unless they are an HD DVD or BlueRay DVD, you won’t be taking full advantage of your high-definition television. And yes, that means that like your old VHS library, it’s time to update your video collection again. But don’t jump just yet, the market still needs to settle on a standard.

  • Q. Why is it more expensive to produce high-definition television?

    A. Aside from the obvious reason, the price of high-definition recording equipment, there are additional costs that go into HD production. Since HD produces such a sharp picture, that means every detail; set, makeup, lightening, and other areas of production have to be improved as well. With HD, you have to upgrade every piece of the puzzle.

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One Response to “Get the FAQs on High-Definition Television (HDTV)”

  1. Diane says:

    Is there a wall mounted plasma tv that has a dvd and a cable box in the television itself so you don’t have to have any wires hanging down. Also if you use a plasma with your pc just to watch shows and not to game will it burn out so quickly. We don’t do play alot of games but we do watch alot of dvds and my daughter likes to watch shows that she missed on the computer. I was also checking out the Blue Ray technology on DVDs. Are there any plasma tvs that have a dvd that has blue ray. Also I have been to several sites that said you needed to contact your cable company to find out if they use 750p or 1080p if you want to use your pc and they don’t know what I’m talking about. I read that if your provider only uses 750p then it would be useless to get a 1080p because the quality would actually be worse. Can you tell me if this is correct and how I can ask the question so they will tell me. I must have been transfered 8 times, even the internet people couldn’t tell me. My husband wants me to present him with all of the info before I can get a tv. I am leaning towards a panasonic TH-42PZ85U but then he came home and said he wanted the cable box and dvd in the tv so that there were no wires. Thank you very much if you can help me with any of this. Diane

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