As is clear, anyone who owns a high-definition television can get high-definition content. One has three options: over-the-air signals, cable or satellite. Over-the-air high-definition signals are those that a typical rooftop antenna would receive. The signals are digital and encoded in HD. Over-the-air signals are free to receive. The only cost out of pocket would be for the equipment needed to receive them. To receive HD programming from a cable or satellite provider, you would need to subscribe to their HD package if they have any. This subscription may not be free. The provider might require a minimum length of service.
An integrated HDTV has an HDTV tuner built into the TV. So you don’t have to purchase an external box to receive HDTV. However, if you subscribe to a cable or satellite service, you may have to purchase their box to receive their HD channel service.
In comparison, an HD-upgradable, HD-ready, or HD-compatible TV has all that you need to watch HDTV, but you must add a set-top box to receive HDTV signals.
When you are not in a mood to watch television shows, you can connect your HDTV to an upscaling DVD player or a Blu-ray DVD player. In order to take full advantage of this viewing option, your HDTV needs to have either an HDMI or DVI-HDCP connection.
Jeremy Hang, division head-Bravia Display, Sony India, explains that upscaling DVD players match the pixel resolution of a standard DVD to that of your HDTV. Although the quality is not the same as watching your DVD in true high-definition, there is a definite improvement in the image quality of your DVDs when played on an upscaling DVD player through an HDTV.
In India, Samsung offers two HD-DVD players. The Samsung 1080PK is a full-HD DVD player with USB host and HDMI cable included. The Samsung F1080 is full-HD stylish DVD player with HDMI cable included.
Kishalay Ray, general manager-marketing, Sharp Business Systems (India), says that not many Blu-ray titles are currently available in the Indian market, not making it worth buying at this stage. However, DVDs can output the video at 720p or 1080i resolution via their HDMI jack if it is available in the DVD player as well as in the TV set.
If one is a gaming freak, game consoles have been making a slow but steady conversion to high-definition. The latest generation of game consoles is even more HD-friendly. All of the Xbox 360 game titles run at 720p or 1080i, meaning these can look just as good as standard DVDs.
Programming other than HD?
HDTV allows programming other than the HD content to be displayed on the screen. There is no drop in quality: On HDTV sets, the native resolution is higher, hence the lower resolution can be easily accommodated without affecting the quality.
Types and cost of HDTV sets
HDTVs are available in liquid-crystal display (LCD), plasma, digital light processing (DLP) and liquid-crystal-on-silicon (LCoS) technologies. However, currently the mainstream technologies are LCD and plasma.
The cost of HDTV sets varies according to the size and quality of technology. The comparatively high cost of HDTV sets may be a ‘turn off,’ but HDTVs offer excellent picture quality coupled with a big screen experience. Plasma and LCD HDTVs are wall-mountable and save space too.
Availability of HDTV sets
Most high-end plasma and LCD TVs are HDTV-capable. Sony’s Bravia LCD TVs let you enjoy full advantages of HDTV technology. With slim and stylish designs, these can fit anywhere in your home. Samsung too has a complete portfolio of HDTV and HD-ready LCD TVs: the Full HD LCD Series 6 and 5 and the HD ready Series 4 and 3. In the case of plasma televisions, the Full HD Series 5 and the 3D Ready Series 4 have also been launched in the Indian market.
Issues with HDTV
To be able to receive HD content, you need to have an HD-ready TV set or TV set with built-in HDTV tuner, which is comparatively expensive. Also, traditional SD programmes originally filmed in the standard 4:3 ratio, when seen on an HDTV monitor, will have empty margins to the left and right of the image because 16:9 wide-screen aspect ratio is the standard for digital HDTV. You can choose to fill this unused display area by stretching the SD shows horizontally to fill the screen, but this will only distort the image.
[stextbox id=”info”]HDTVs are available in liquid-crystal display (LCD), plasma, digital light processing (DLP) and liquid-crystal-on-silicon (LCoS) technologies. However, currently the mainstream technologies are LCD and plasma.[/stextbox]
[stextbox id=”info” caption=”Major Contributors to this Report”]• Tarun Jain, country head-India, Hitachi Home Electronics
• R. Zutshi, deputy managing director, Samsung India
• Jeremy Hang, division head-Bravia Display, Sony India
• Kishalay Ray, general manager-marketing, Sharp Business Systems (India)[/stextbox]
Normally, the HDTV transmission is provided through satellite and the same may not be available on free basis. In such a case, you may be required to subscribe to HDTV with the service provider.
HDMI, or component video cables, must be used to support high-definition signals. HDMI is an all-digital connection that allows both HD audio and video to pass through a single cable. If you use older video cabling standards like composite or S-Video for connections from a cable box or satellite dish, you will get only an SDTV-quality picture.
Another drawback of HDTV is that most of the operators do not fully follow HDTV specifications. So the HD picture quality is usually not as good as promised. Operators tend to use slower bitrates or lower resolution to accommodate more channels within the limited bandwidth, which reduces the video quality.
While on an analogue TV, the interference causes the picture to slowly deteriorate from bad to worse, interference in HDTV broadcast will freeze, skip, or display ‘garbage’ information.
The author is a deputy editor at EFY