DTV Express Learning Center:
All About HDTV
What is HDTV?
With High Definition Television—better known as HDTV—you can experience sports, movies and more the way they were meant to be seen. Original HDTV programming lets you see a picture five times clearer than the picture on a current analog TV. An HDTV picture is a picture without "ghosts," snow, or interference. It's the kind of picture you tell your friends about and invite the neighbors over to see. Excitement about HDTV is contagious and once you've caught it, you'll want to spread the news!
Experience television like never before, with pictures so sharp and clear, you'll think they're real. Envelop your living room in surround sound that puts you in the middle of the action. Simply put, the HDTV experience is amazing! High definition TV delivers picture and sound quality that are a quantum leap above your current TV set. Turn your living room into a movie theater, a football stadium, a concert hall—the possibilities are endless. Every show you watch—from the local News to the Super Bowl—takes on a vivid brilliance that simply has to be seen to be believed.
An image in true HDTV resolution has five times more detail than analog television. Now watching a big football game feels like you're 15 rows up on the 50-yard line as you see every inch of the field—even the scuffs on the quarterback's helmet. Not only is the picture more realistic—like looking through a sparkling clean picture window—HDTVs have wider, rectangular screens like movie theaters—a shape designed to fill the entire field of vision.
HDTV is revolutionizing television as CD players did for music. CDs eliminated scratches and hisses from records, while HDTVs eliminate ghosts, static, snow and poor-quality video. All-digital transmission means that when you see an HDTV program, it's exactly the same as the one that left the TV station: colors are crisp, text is easier to read and the higher quality audio embedded into the signal supercharges the viewing experience. 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 (FCC) in 1996. The official name is the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standard.
There are several different DTV picture formats offering varying levels of quality; HDTV with its widescreen picture and Dolby Digital sound is the pinnacle. Just as there is a wide variety of DTV picture formats, there are different types of digital televisions. The most affordable is capable of showing Standard Definition TV (SDTV). The next best category is Enhanced Definition TV (EDTV), capable of displaying a higher-quality 480 progressive image.
The highest picture quality models are HDTVs with 720p or 1080i resolution and a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. This television lets you see uncropped widescreen movies without the black bars on top and bottom used for "letterbox" presentations (letterboxing is the method typically used to "fit" rectangular CinemaScope movies onto a square 4:3 screen). Today's top-of-the-line Digital Televisions, including plasma displays, LCD TVs, and DLP Projection TVs, are available as "HDTV-Ready" monitors, which require a separate HDTV tuner, and true HDTVs with digital ATSC tuners built right in. Either type of TV will give you true HDTV resolution, and an unmatched viewing experience.
How is HDTV Different From Analog Television?
Flat panel TVs like plasma displays and LCD TVs, as well as HDTV rear-projection TVs and home theater projectors, produce pictures composed of tiny "dots" called pixels. HDTV has higher resolution (more "dots" in the same screen space), meaning sharper, clearer pictures: The image on a television is composed of small picture elements called pixels. The pixels in HDTV are closely packed together to provide a highly detailed picture. Current analog TVs display an image of 200,000 pixels. The minimum DTV signal shows 300,000 pixels and hits a maximum of two million for HDTV, the best of the 18 ATSC formats.
HDTV has a widescreen format: 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, meaning that the picture is 16 units wide by 9 units high. A conventional analog display is 4 units wide by 3 units high, or 4:3. Thus the 16:9 display provides a wider image area that more closely matches the movie theater experience.
HDTV has better sound: Many HDTV programs also contain six-channel (5.1) Dolby Digital surround sound to provide an immersive audio experience to complement the improved picture quality on HDTV. Paired with a capable home theater audio system, a top-notch HDTV set delivers an unmatched entertainment experience—right in your own home!
HDTV is the wave of the Future: HDTV is an entirely new system that will ultimately replace today's existing analog "NTSC" television system. Once the Digital Television (DTV) standard was set in 1996, the Federal government subsequently mandated a nationwide transition for the nation's 1,600-plus television stations to move from analog to digital transmission. In order to facilitate this, the FCC allocated an additional channel to all broadcast TV stations. This second channel is dedicated for digital broadcasts and upon completion of the transition (the year 2006 or 85 percent household penetration, whichever occurs later), the original analog channel must be returned to the government. The FCC will eventually auction the analog channel spectrum.
There is no better time to join the HDTV revolution! Today's top Plasma TVs and Rear Projection HDTV models will not only give you the best HDTV pictures, but also use digital circuitry to improve even Standard Definition (SDTV) signals, giving you the best possible picture from any video source, including normal cable or satellite TV, and DVD movies as well.
How Do I Receive HDTV?
There are several components required to watch a program in HD. Generally, it's simple and just like receiving traditional TV. You can receive HDTV signals through one of three ways: over-the-air broadcast, cable, or direct broadcast satellite.
When an HDTV signal reaches your home, it must first go from the antenna, dish, or cable through a receiver—either built into your TV set, or a separate "set-top box" tuner. Cable and satellite subscribers currently need a special HDTV set-top box: check with your cable or satellite provider to see what your options are.
Second, your TV must be capable of reproducing a picture with HDTV resolution. HDTV-ready models with 720p or 1080i resolution give you the best picture quality, though some EDTV-resolution monitors (480p resolution) can scale incoming signals and still present an excellent image.
Why wait? Get HDTV Now!
Start here to see the latest in HDTV Plasma Displays at DTV Express. You might also consider LCD TV monitors and DLP TV rear-projection sets.