All the Benefits of HDTV Today

By: David Johnson

The question of whether you should get high definition television (HDTV) is a hard one. To help you figure out what you should do, you need to first understand what HDTV is. With digital television, the information is transferred in "data bits." The amount of space required to transmit these "data bits" is much smaller than what is required for analog television. Not only is the picture and sound quality improved with digital tv, but due to the DTV's efficiency, digital television also frees up parts of the broadcast spectrum, allowing space in the spectrum for other uses.

HDTV is the next step up from digital television. Although HDTV uses about the same bandwidth as analog signals, HDTV transmits more than six times the information, leading to a huge improvement in sound and quality.

High-definition television (HDTV) potentially offers a much better picture quality than standard television. HD's greater clarity means the picture on screen can be less blurred and less fuzzy. HD also brings other benefits such as smoother motion, richer and more natural colors, surround sound, and the ability to allow a variety of input devices to work together. However, there are a variety of reasons why the best HD quality is not usually achieved. The main problem is a lack of HD input. Many cable and satellite channels and even some "high definition" channels, are not broadcast in true HD. Also, image quality may be lost if the television is not properly connected to the input device or not properly configured for the input's optimal performance.

Almost all commercially available HD is digital, so the system cannot produce a snowy or washed out image from a weak signal, effects from signal interference, such as herringbone patterns, or vertical rolling.

HD digital signals will either deliver an excellent picture, a picture with noticeable pixelation, a series of still pictures, or no picture at all. Any interference will render the signal unwatchable. As opposed to a lower-quality signal one gets from interference in an analogue television broadcast, interference in a digital television broadcast will freeze, skip, or display "garbage" information.

With HDTV the lack of imperfections in the television screen often seen on traditional television is another reason why many prefer high definition to analog. As mentioned, problems such as snow caused from a weak signal, double images from ghosting or multi-path and picture sparkles from impulse noise are a thing of the past. These problems often seen on a conventional television broadcast just do not occur on HDTV.

HD programming and films will be presented in 16:9 widescreen format (although films created in even wider ratios will still display "letterbox" bars on the top and bottom of even 16:9 sets.) Older films and programming that retain their 4:3 ratio display will be presented in a version of letterbox commonly called "pillar box," displaying bars on the right and left of 16:9 sets (rendering the term "fullscreen" a misnomer). While this is an advantage when it comes to playing 16:9 movies, it creates the same disadvantage when playing 4:3 television shows that standard televisions have playing 16:9 movies. A way to address this is to zoom the 4:3 image to fill the screen or reframe its material to 14:9 aspect ratio, either during preproduction or manually in the TV set.

The colors will generally look more realistic, due to their greater bandwidth. The visual information is about 2-5 times more detailed overall. The gaps between scanning lines are smaller or invisible. Legacy TV content that was shot and preserved on 35 mm film can now be viewed at nearly the same resolution as that at which it was originally photographed. A good analogy for television quality is looking through a window. HDTV offers a degree of clarity that is much closer to this.

The "i" in these numbers stands for "interlaced" while the "p" stands for "progressive". With interlaced scan, the 1,080 lines are split into two, the first 540 being "painted" on a frame, followed by the second 540 painted on another frame. This method reduces the bandwidth and raises the frame rate to 50-60 per second. A progressive scan displays all 1,080 lines at the same time at 60 frames per second, using more bandwidth.

As you may know, you will need to purchase some equipment to be able to experience HDTV. Most importantly, you will need to buy HDTV-ready television, along with an HDTV converter box. Recently, prices have decreased for HDTV-ready TV sets, and most likely will continue to decrease. As for the second piece of equipment, your cable company can provide the HDTV converter box with your service. If you enjoy watching high quality TV programming, as well as watching your TV programs in widescreen formatFind Article, then you would enjoy having HDTV in your home.

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