High Definition Television (HDTV) is possibly the greatest thing to happen to TV since the advent of colour.

Many people are asking: "Why is it such a powerful and important development?"

The answer is: "HDTV is not like any TV you are likely to have experienced before. It generates the most life-like images you will have ever seen on the small screen, with colour and clarity that is totally superior in every way". Not only will you get much better pictures, you also get far better sound quality.
All HDTV programmes will offer superior CD-quality sound, and HDTV sets with 5.1 Dolby digital surround-sound will be able to take full advantage of this, thus offering the audience a true home-cinema experience. Other key features are that the Video is fed digitally from the receiver box to screen and you will no longer get “flaring” on fast moving action.

High Definition TeleVision (HDTV) is already being broadcast in the US, Australia, Japan, Canada and is rapidly being extended to other countries across the world. UK consumers will soon be able to experience this improved picture clarity and 5.1 surround sound, just like at the movies.

Televisions in Europe today display 576-625 lines, but HD video increases this line count and so improves the picture quality. to either 720 or 1080 (depending which standard is selected by the broadcaster).

Sky with the BBC in the UK plan to offer HD content to viewers soon, while the BBC has plans to produce all of its content in HD by 2010. In fact in 20 years from now all of Europe will broadcast television only in High Definition. Market research already suggests that more than 4.5 million households in Europe will switch over to HDTV as early as 2008.

Many people will be aware that Sky began broadcasting in HD in 2006. Sky's high definition service will use two new formats. The first 1080i increases the number of rows in the picture to 1080 - over 500 more than a standard PAL picture and is interlaced. The other, the 720p, has 720 rows but this time they are progressively scanned. This means that every row of pixels is shown in every frame. Sky's HD box will support both of these formats.

Some FAQ about HDTV:

How does HDTV work?
HDTV gives viewers vivid clear high-resolution images integrated with Dolby Digital 5.1 channel surround sound - creating a truly new viewing experience never seen before on domestic television sets. HDTV reproduces cinema-quality viewing by digitising TV programming, allowing it to be transmitted and received in the same way that a DVD player can reproduce films with cinema-screen special effects.

Why is HDTV better?
Better Quality Picture: Programmes that are filmed in HD offer a far superior picture quality, with vivid rich colours, razor-sharp images and greater levels of detail. To understand how this is achieved it is worth understanding where we are now. At present, all television images are made up of pixels going across the screen and scan lines going down. Currently British TV is transmitted using a format called PAL. A PAL picture displays 576 visible rows of pixels on the screen and these are interlaced. This means the whole picture is not displayed in one screen but instead all the odd rows are shown first then all the even rows. That means that the complete picture is only created after every second frame. HDTV’s picture boosts the vertical lines (lines the TV screen is composed of) from the standard 576 to 1080 - nearly doubling the amount of lines on-screen. The result is a picture which can be up to six times as sharp as standard TV. To truly receive the full impact, programmes need to be broadcasted in this format and the viewer needs to have receive the programme via a HDTV set (or HDTV-enabled set).

What else is better about HDTV?
Better Screen Size: Most televisions in homes today were manufactured in a 4 by 3 aspect ratio. All HDTV signals are sent in a 16 by 9 aspect ratio, mimicking the wide scope of cinema-released films. This gives the viewer a fuller picture as it works in a similar way to your eye, and is therefore a more compelling visual experience. Currently most new television screens have a 16:9 screen.

How do I make the right choice?
When choosing an HDTV look out for televisions which are described as having all the features listed below, as this will ensure that your TV is fully capable of displaying HDTV through Sky from 2006. Please note: HD is only available on TVs that are highlighted as HD or HD ready and have to meet stringent standards to advertise under that name.

1) An XGA screen with a minimum resolution of 720 horizontal lines

2) HDMI or DVI connection supporting HDCP (content protection) which disables piracy

3) Component video input (YPbPr) accepting 720P & 1080i input.

Will there be HD Gaming?
HDTV will be good news for all gamers, as the new PlayStation 3 and the new Xbox will be geared up to HD quality gaming content. It has been reported in its launch specifications that the current Xbox already supports some HD gaming content. If we look to the future, the next generation of consoles are expected to start appearing later this year. Higher capacity storage discs, such as HD-DVD and Bluray, are predicted to become the standard in the next round of games consoles, which will allow game manufacturers more capacity to create visually-rich, detailed graphics. The games industry has stated that from 2006 every major game is going to be playable in HD, so consumers who have bought HDTV sets, will be able to appreciate the high-detail graphics of console games.

HD Explained


Because you want to feel closer to the action, HD (High Definition) TV gives you a lifelike viewing experience, with sharper images, more vibrant colours and deeper detail. Combine this with cinema-style surround sound on many programmes and you've got a more intense viewing experience than ever before.

What is HDTV?

HDTV provides crystal-clear quality. It is a digital television format with a resolution approximately twice that of conventional televisions in both the vertical and horizontal direction giving a result of a picture which is four times the quality/ definition of that of a standard analogue television screen.

How does it work?

All Television pictures are built of tiny cells/dots of colour called pixels. HDTVs provide sharper images because they have more pixels than standard televisions (up to twice as many in each line). HDTV is also digital rather than analogue which means viewers don’t need to worry about having fuzzy channels because digital broadcasts don’t degrade as they travel long distances. Finally HDTVs also flicker less because each pixel is refreshed 60 times per second instead of the standard 30.


What do I need to experience High Definition?

A common misconception with High Definition is that once you have bought an HD Ready TV and connected it to all your old equipment, everything you watch will be in High Definition. First of all you need an HD source, something that broadcasts or transmits an HD signal. The most common devices are Blu-Ray and HD-DVD Players Next-Gen Gaming Consoles, Upscaling DVD Players and Sky HD Boxes.

These devices must be connected to your HD Ready TV via an HDMI Cable. This simple all-in-one connection (much like a SCART led) allows you to view high definition programmes.

Types of HDTV

HDTV will be broadcast in three different variations throughout the UK. These are 720p, 1080i and 1080p.

720p – this technology is likely to be the most common resolution to be broadcast and is comprised of 1280 horizontal x 720 vertical rows of pixels. The ‘p’ stands for progressive rather than interlaced (as with the 1080i).
Contrary to common misconception 720p is not inferior to 1080i; although it has fewer rows/lines of pixels it has the advantages of progressive scanning and a constant resolution of 720 lines, making it more capable of handling motion.
1080i – this is the standard HDTV display which uses interlaced scanning technology and produces a resolution of 1920 x 1080 rows of pixels.
1080p – this resolution is composed of 1,920 vertical pixels by 1,080 horizontal rows of pixels. This format again used progressive scan and has the same advantages as the 720p technology. The 1080p however is a higher resolution (more lines/rows than the 720p) and therefore capable of producing a sharper and more precise picture.

High Definition Gaming

Another way to experience High Definition is by using a next-gen games console such as the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. All Xbox 360 games support up to 720p/1080i resolution as a minimum which you can take advantage of with your HD television.


Be ready now!