What You Need to Know About...HDTV

Learn more about your viewing options and what to look for in this 3-part series on HDTV each day at Noon eastern

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"HD is coming, HD is coming!" HDTV, or high-definition television, is looming on the horizon. HDTV also goes hand-in-hand with digital television because most are already digitally-equipped, and as AT Home Tech editor Ryan wrote about, the end of analog TV is near.

HDTVs receive a TV signal that contains more picture information than a standard TV signal. A standard TV picture is made of 512 lines, no matter how big or little the screen is; an HDTV is made up of either 720 or 1080 lines.

The 720 line HDTV create a picture by displaying 720 lines of information in one pass, usually making motion smoother than compared with a 1080 line HDTV, but with fewer total lines.

The 1080 line HDTV creates a picture by displaying the even numbered lines of information, then switching to the odd numbered lines so fast that the eye doesn't detect the transition and it looks like a solid picture.

Before buying an HDTV set up, make sure that you watch "regular" TV on it, as the majority of TV is still non-HD; the quality isn't often improved in the "regular" TV setting. Also note that DVD movies usually don't look better on an HDTV without an HD-DVD player (more on that in Day 3's post). DVD players listed as 480p are the "enhanced" type; players listed as 480i are the standard type. Most DVD players only produce a standard TV resolution and the ones who claim to have "enhanced" resolution use progressive scanning to produce only marginally better picture quality.

Stop back tomorrow to learn more about HDTV set options.

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