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HDTV : A quick beginners guide to formats


This recipe will give a quick and easy overview of HDTV and the terms used and equipment needed. Advanced topics will not be included, just basic HD info to get you started.

HDTV Primer – A newbies quick guide.

Most of you have heard about HDTV and the benefits associated with High Definition TV/Video. However, understanding the lingo and terms and knowing what equipment you need can be a bit confusing at first. Lets try to fix that by explaining what high definition is and whats needed to view HD content.

Do you need an HDTV?
This is probably the first question you should ask yourself. Do you really need an HDTV? Do you have video sources that would benefit by having it connected to an HDTV?

When you go to HD, its not just a new TV purchase but also to get the best experience an audio upgrade and also an extra cable/satellite fee for the HD content. The only free HD content is over-the-air (OTA) HD network channels and that will require your HDTV to have a built in HD Tuner.

Also, be sure to think about other costs you might not normally think of such as cables; you’ll need to have an HDMI cable or two and also probably a digital coaxil or digital optical for audio.

However, if you already have a semi-decent audio setup (ie 5.1 Dolby, DTS) you probably will be fine using it.


High Definition refers to a video source that has a resolution above 480I/480P (i = interlaced, p = progressive; progressive looks much smoother).

The main resolutions are (from lowest to highest resolution):
720p (1280×720)
1080i (1920×1080)
1080p (1920×1080)

Examples of what can output what:
Cable and Satellite HDTV can only output a maximum of 1080i resolution. Some shows are recorded in 720p or 1080i.

Normal, non HD channels are broadcasted in 480i or 480p.

High Def Movie Players and next gen gaming consoles can output the maximum 1080p (ie PS3, Bluray player, HD DVD player).

Upconverting DVD players can output usually all resolutions up to 1080p.

OTA tv channels output a resolution of 1080i or 720p, again depending on what the show was recorded as.

Also, to get full 1080p; you usually need to connect your video source to your HDTV via HDMI since most content is protected w/HDCP protection.

Most people will say that they can hardly notice any difference between 1080i and 1080p so if price is more important than max resolution; you can save a few hundred dollars by going w/a 1080i vs 1080p tv. The main benefit of 1080p comes into play when you start getting big TV sizes like 60″ and up. The higher resolution will keep the detail/quality intact on such big screens (remember back in the old day and how a 60″ rear projectors would look? a thing of the past).


For a ‘true’ HD setup you really need the following components:
-HDTV (plasma, lcd, dlp are the most popular types)
-HD Source (HD Cable box, PS3/XBOX360, Bluray/HDDVD player)
-Audio receiver (HDMI supports up to 7.1 dolby, but HDMI receivers are still pretty expensive, 5.1 still sounds very good for the price difference)

Picking an HDTV is probably the hardest part. Do you go namebrand and quality or no-name and price? My best advice is to research, research and do some more research online. If people had problems with the TV, they will post about it.

So that concludes my quick intro guide to HDTV.



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