HDTV Guide
Comprehensive guide and information
on HDTV (high definition television)


 HDTV - The Basics

Although there are a lot of resources for learning about HDTV, it is still difficult to discern the straight facts.  A cable company is going to recommend that you get your HDTV through them, and satellite will tell you that their method is the best.  The truth is that they all have their pros and cons, so it all comes down to your personal taste.  The most important thing to keep in mind is that the technology has not smoothed out all of its kinks yet.  This only signifies that the chances are that as soon as they do, another technology will come creeping up which will require everyone to start over.  The easiest way to avoid this is to choose your technology wisely and perhaps with a little more money.  This does not mean that you should not try out having HDTV in your home first, before buying all new equipment.  Learning about the technology first will help you decide whether to try it through your cable company by renting the HD set-top box for your HD-capable TV, or whether to get the antenna to pick up some of the local broadcasting stations' HD formatted programs.  By breaking down some of the elements of HDTV, you can better understand which method is right for you.

Basically, HDTV is a form of digital TV.  The difference between high definition TV and digital (DTV), is that HDTV offers much more quality on three levels.  HD uses more lines per image, which is what accounts for the crystal clear picture.  It also incorporates wide screen technology into every transmission, which is the best way to create a realistic picture.  Finally, HDTV does not just mean a good picture.  The digital format of HD allows for 5.1 Dolby surround sound quality to transmit as well.  If one has the correct connectors, such as DVI (digital video interface), HDMI (high definition multimedia interface) or Component Video, also known as RGB (red green blue), then you will be able to receive this element of your HD transmission.  Adding this component is usually required since only a few TVs include it.

Next, one has to decide which way they want to receive the HDTV signal.  This is probably the trickiest part, because broadcasting stations, cable and satellite providers, and TV technology are all on various planes of cooperation and consistency.  Looking on the internet for HDTV options in your area, or calling your satellite and cable providers for package quotes should demystify some of the process.  All of the options will require that you have a TV monitor with either a tuner built-in, a built-in cable card slot (Cable Card or Cable Card-ready), or with a feature called HD-ready or HD-capable. 

The built-in tuner will allow you to purchase an antenna and hook it up to your TV.  This will let you pick up HD channel broadcastings from your local stations.  Before going with this option, make sure that you know which channels, if any, your local stations provide.

Many people like the HD-ready, or capable option because it usually guarantees that any set-box top that a satellite or cable provider offers for rent or for purchase, will be compatible.  Make sure you find out the prices for owning or renting the box from different HD services, and the different prices for HD-ready sets.  Getting an HD-ready set with as many bells and whistles as possible should help you keep up with the quickly changing technology.

The Cable Card-ready slot keeps a lot of clutter out of your living room.  A lot of people consider it to be a smoother way to receive the signal.  Make sure that you like your local cable provider though, because not all of them offer the same HD channels.  If you think you might end up switching to satellite, then consider going with just a regular HD-ready set.

Knowing what channels are available through the three kinds of services, antenna (local broadcasting), satellite, or cable, should be able to help you know which one to use.  The technology is changing every day, so prepare yourself for a few glitches along the way.  Sports, nature, art and movies are some of the most popular genres which HDTV channels are offering, so be sure to base your choice on the variety which it will provide for you and your family.

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