Television has come a long way – from black and white, to color and now digital high-definition. While High-definition TV (HDTV) has become a “must-have” in some households, there are still many consumers who are confused about the “ins” and “outs” of HDTV.
HDTV provides the highest resolution and picture quality of all digital broadcast formats. Combined with digitally enhanced sound technology, HDTV sets new standards for sound and picture quality in television. In addition to providing improved picture quality with more visible detail, HDTV is transmitted in a widescreen display commonly referred to as a 16:9 format, which means that a picture is 16 units wide by 9 units high. A conventional analog television is 4 units wide by 3 units high, or 4:3.
There is a push underway to convert all TV sets from analog to digital television (DTV) by the end of 2006. DTV will enable broadcasters to offer television with movie-quality picture and sound. HDTV is only one part of “digital television (DTV),” an umbrella term covering all of the digital formats for the standard approved by the Federal Communications Commission in 1996. There are several different DTV picture formats offering various levels of quality. HDTV offers the best quality.
Before you rush out to purchase an HDTV set, determine how you will be receiving the HDTV signals. There are three ways to get HDTV signals into your home:
- over-the-air – which is free and requires a rooftop or indoor antenna, depending on your location, the distance from the station’s transmitters and local terrain;
- cable – requires an HDTV-compatible cable box, and a compatible HDTV-ready TV; and
- Satellite broadcasts – requires an HDTV-compatible satellite tuner/receiver and dish antenna and a compatible HDTV- ready TV.
HDTVs are now available in all shapes, sizes and price ranges, so do your homework:
- Check with your cable or satellite provider first. Most companies have set-top boxes with built-in HD tuners and/or digital video recorders available for free or for a small fee.
- Become familiar with the terminology (CRT, DLP, LCD, LCoS, etc.)
- Do not forget to take a look behind the set to see what inputs are provided. You want to be sure you have the correct number and type of A/V inputs for your DVD, VCR, game console, satellite tuner or cable tuner.
- Shop around. Seeing the unit in action is probably the best way to make your choice. Stand in front of the unit and note the picture clarity. Then, walk to the left and right to see if the image clarity changes.
- Set a budget and stick to it. Some units can be very expensive.
For more information on HDTV visit the FCC’s Web site at www.dtv.gov
or the Consumer Electronics Association’s Web site at www.ce.org