Saturday, 26 July 2008

HDTV in the UK

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HDTV in the UK


Today in the UK we are witnessing the start of a revolution that will transform our television viewing experience. That revolution is free HDTV (High Definition Television) and it is with us now albeit in a limited form.

This new technology offers truly superb picture quality with a depth and clarity that has to be seen to be believed. Conventional TV’s which have 576 visible lines offer a level of quality that doesn’t come close to the 720 or 1028 lines offered by HDTV.

Is high Definition just for TV's?

In parallel to the introduction of free HDTV services, two new High Definition DVD formats have been competing for consumer affections.

The great news for consumers is that Blu-ray has emerged as the dominant format, Toshiba (heading the HD-DVD consortium) conceding victory to the rival High Definition DVD consortium.

Hook up a Blu-ray or free HD DVD player, insert a Blu-ray or HD DVD disc and prepare to be impressed. The picture sharpness and level of detail is simply astounding.

To find out more, read our High Definition DVD guide here.

Another area of interest within the high definition revolution is gaming. Microsoft’s xbox 360 is already HD compatible with an optional HD DVD drive. Sony's PlayStation 3 comes equipped with a Blu-ray drive as standard.

Manufacturers such as Canon and Sony have recently launched a range of High Definition camcorders which has further expanded the possibilities of working with this exiting new format.

To find out more about High Definition Camcorder technology, read our guide here.

How does it work?

HDTV or High Definition Television offers the highest quality picture available in the world of home entertainment. Instead of using the conventional 576 lines to plot a TV picture, HDTV uses 720 or 1080 lines. In addition, the pixels in each of those lines are closer. This results in a hugely improved picture quality, clarity and colour definition.

Note: Remember that the quality of your picture depends on the source of the broadcast as well as the quality of your TV. You can watch Freeview (576 lines) on a Plasma or LCD screen, but the quality will not be as good as Sky (1080 lines). A Plasma or LCD TV will actually scale whatever source it is fed to fit the screen.

The differences between 720p, 1080i and 1080p

HDTV broadcast pictures come in two formats. The first is 720p ("p" stands for progressive), which is an image comprised of 1280 lines along the horizontal by 720 vertical lines. It shows the whole image in a single frame – that is, progressively.

The second is 1080i, which measures 1920 x 1080 lines and is displayed as two fields that are interlaced. You get a bit more detail with 1080i but the interlaced image is not as smooth as a progressively scanned one.

A high-res screen with at least 720 lines will show both formats but only a 1080-line screen will show 1080i footage at its best, i.e. in an un-scaled form.

As far as Sky is concerned it will be down to the programme maker to choose which format to use.

The 1080p format, which is the absolute best form of HD is not used by broadcasters. Movies made in 1080p (e.g. the last three Star Wars films) might appear in Blu-ray and/or HD DVD format. Sony's PlayStation 3 produces 1080p output.

There are more and more 'Full HD' screens (capable of displaying 1080p) appearing. A 1080p screen can de-interlace a 1080i signal or upscale a standard definition one. With very few 1080p sources available, the main benefit of a Full HD screen is its ability to map a source such as Sky TV (1080i) pixel for pixel to the screens resolution (ie 1920 x 1080).

What next?

So where does this leave the ordinary consumer like you or me who is interested in being part of this exciting revolution? The rest of this guide looks specifically at HDTV and takes a step by step approach to the point where you can confidently buy the kit that is right for you, and start enjoying the HDTV experience.

If your interest is directed towards the other HD technologies mentioned above there is a HD-DVD guide, and a HD Gaming guide. We also have a HD Technology section which has been designed to optimize and enhance your HD viewing experience

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farhaj said...

Blue ray disks and drives would lead HD DVD disks in future no matter what happens. Its not just the space but the advanced technology which will give it a victory.