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HDTV - Antennas, Blu-ray, and More

written by: •edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 9/30/2009

You don't necessarily need an antenna to watch HD programming, but you should know that just because your TV is HD-compatible does not automatically mean that what you're watching is in high definition.

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    HDTV stands for high definition television, and HD content comes in a variety of mediums. You can use an antenna to pick up digital signals from the air, which is free and the most basic form of HD. If you are a cable or satellite television subscriber, you could add on HD content and get a special receiver. Furthermore, you could watch HDTV with a Blu-ray player or an upscaling DVD player. You can even hook the TV up to your computer if you have the right hardware. In this article, I’ll tell you all the different ways you can watch high definition video on your HDTV.

    I have found that there seems to be some confusion with regard to HDTV and what it does. Just because your new flat screen LCD supports HD resolutions, it does not automatically mean that everything you watch on it is going to be high-def. What matters is the signal that is being processed by your HDTV. If that signal is not high definition content, then you aren’t watching HD programming. I know people with basic cable plugged into an HDTV and they wonder why the picture doesn’t look as good as they expected. The reason is because they were still watching standard definition content on their HDTV.

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    High Definition Content

    To watch HD content with an antenna, you need three things. First, you need a television that supports high definition. Otherwise, you’ll need a signal converter to downgrade the image to work on an older TV set. Second, you will need an antenna capable of picking up digital signals from the air. A cheap $10 one from Wal-Mart will do the trick, believe it or not. Just make sure it says that it supports HDTV. Finally, you will need a signal to pick up. If you could get regular TV channels before the digital switch, then you should be able to get HD channels over the air. You will need to let your TV do a channel scan to find all that is available.

    I would also like to add that if you have a standard DVD player, you should consider getting an upscaling DVD player to go with your HDTV. An upscaling DVD player takes that standard 480p DVD picture and blows it up (upscales) to 1080p, which is full high definition. It makes a huge difference in image quality. If you really want the best picture, you should get a Blu-ray player or even a Sony PS3. Just remember that in order to get the supported 1080p on your HDTV, you will need an HDMI cable. Don’t pay too much for one, either. If your HDTV only supports up to 720p, I still recommend using HDMI over anything else.

    Another option for HD content, besides subscribing to a high-def cable or satellite service, is to hook your HDTV up to your computer. Many modern video cards feature HDMI-out connectors, and you can even buy some that include TV tuners. Many large HDTV’s also double as computer monitors, so with the right hardware and cabling, you could turn your computer and HDTV into a tremendous multimedia powerhouse.