You’ve heard of HDTV, but maybe you’re not entirely sure what the label refers to and whether or not you should consider an upgrade. Continue reading for all of the HD information you need to determine what is best for your own personal home entertainment system.
High definition television is an all-digital format of broadcast programming, with an increased resolution for a sharper screen picture. This is a huge improvement over the traditional analog broadcasting system, which is viewed on standard definition TVs, also called SDTV. The key benefit of HD is the picture quality, which is sharply increased in comparison to standard definition programming or VCR-quality. DVDs have a sharper picture than VCR, though HDTV is even clearer yet, with 720 lines of razor-sharp resolution, giving an image that looks as if the crystal-clear movie theater screen was sized down and installed in your living room.
The other major difference between standard and high definition TV is the aspect ratio.
SDTV aspect ratios size up at an almost-square 4 by 3 ratio, which HD comes at an aspect ratio of 16 by 9, a rectangular broadcast that is closer to the ratio offered at a movie theater. This aspect ratio is closer to real-life and allows for a wide angle range of view – with HDTV, you don’t have to miss what is happening on the edges of the scene. This is particularly of importance to sports fans, but is preferred by many movie viewers as well.
HD programming was inaugurated in 1996 in the United States by the Digital HDTV Grand Alliance, and has increased exponentially in popularity since then. Many cable television providers offer HD programming, provided that viewers have a high definition TV.
The same holds true with satellite TV channels, which require not only the HDTV but a satellite dish and satellite receiver box. Satellite HD is a great option for being able to beam in channels and broadcasting from all over the world, as well as for specialized package deals for the best programming for sports fans, movie buffs, and cooking fanatics, among others.
If you’re going to go for the razor-sharp imaging offered by high definition TV, you should also plan to go for the digital audio to accompany the picture. Some HD programming includes Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, which requires some remote speakers for the full effect, enhancing your full experience.
So how do you get HD? The monitor is essential, and must be either be an HDTV-ready television or at least equipped with a high definition tuner to access HD programming. Either of these forms will require an antennae or an external HD box, provided by your cable or satellite TV company. Once you have the HD-capable set, you can select to view your favorite shows, events, music videos, movies, and news clips in the high definition format. Lists of HD programming and channels can be accessed through the network provider or simply in the TV guide.