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The Definition of High Definition

written by: KennethSleight•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 10/26/2011

Sure HDTV is great, and gives you a clearer picture, but what do all of those numbers mean? What’s the difference between 720p and 1080i? What options do you have for watching HD media? How do you get the best picture possible out of your TV? We’ve got the answers to all these questions and more.

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    HDTV When you walk into an electronic store and start to look at the HDTVs, do you have a glazed-over look? Do the letters and numbers incorporated in the names of the sets get your head spinning? We’ve got the cure! Everything you need to know about HDTV is contained right here in a tight little capsule. All you have to do is toss back your head and swallow.

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    What is HDTV

    It’s best to start at the very beginning, with a complete definition of what HDTV is and what it isn’t. There was relatively little said about the technical aspects of HDTV when it first came out. All the manufacturers had to do was put their new TV next to an old analog set and BOOM! You were hooked. Now that the market has had several years to settle in, and consumers are starting to become more savvy, the manufacturers are inventing new acronyms and definitions for types of HDTV. Don’t worry, we’ve got that covered for you.

    The following selections cover everything from the basics of HDTV signals to the differences between types of televisions that are HD capable. There is also a full discussion of the various acronyms used in the industry. It puts all of the technical stuff into layman’s terms. There’s also a look at where HDTV is headed in the near, and not so near, future.

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    Troubleshooting HDTV Pictures

    Sometimes, when you bring a TV home from the store, it just doesn’t look as good as it did on the display. How do you get that crisp, clean, dynamic picture on the screen that enticed you to buy the set in the first place? There are several things that can be tweaked to provide better picture quality on your HDTV.

    We’ll start by walking you through several ways to improve both over-the-air reception and component connections. Then we’ll look at common problems with HDTV tuners, and how they can be fixed. If you have a PS3, we have a guide explaining the best settings for connecting it to your TV. Finally, we close with a discussion of the various connections that are available on your set and what should be hooked to each.

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    Television Content

    It doesn’t do you any good to have a brand new, high-definition television if you don’t have any high-definition media to watch on it. Luckily, there a plenty of ways to get HD media to your screen. The most low-tech is a simple HD antenna. We have a review and a basic guide which highlight what you should be looking for when purchasing one. We also take a look at the Roku and Boxee media services, and provide a guide to watching Netflix on your HDTV.

    For those of you who are interested in the future of HD streaming, we have a discussion of the viability of streaming digital video over currently installed fiber optic networks. For those of you who don’t reside in the United States, we also offer HDTV guides for both Canada and Europe.

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    Digital Converter Boxes

    If you still have an analog set in your house, but want to take advantage of over-the-air digital signals, there are a variety of digital converters which can be purchased to convert the digital signal to an analog signal compatible with your TV. This could come in handy if you have a cottage that you visit two or three times a year, and you don’t really want to invest hundreds of dollars on a television that won’t be used all that often.

    There are a few things you should know about digital converters, what they can and can’t do, what type of connection you need on your TV to use one (do you need audio and video cables or will a simple coaxial work), do you need to buy a separate antenna, etc? We cover all of the questions you need to ask so that you don’t buy something that will end up as a glorified paper weight.

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    HDTV Recorders

    So you want to record some high def content? There are two ways to do it - old school on a VCR, or new wave on a digital recording device. Of course, the image on a VCR won’t be as good as one on the digital recorder, but you’ll still be able to see your shows. We cover the VCR option in a step-by-step guide, and then move on to a discussion about personal digital recorders. Finally, we finish with a review of Elgato’s EyeTV.

    Once you’ve read through these articles, you’ll have no problem recording your favorite shows to watch at a later date.

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    Now that you've learned everything you need to know about HDTV, what's next? Was there something that we missed? Do you have a burning question about HDTV that you need answered? We are glad to help. Just drop a line to one of our staff members via the Disqus interface, and we'll get right on it.

References

  • Image courtesy of marcopako on Flickr under Crreative Commons License 2.0.