Thursday, 29 July 2010
Chances are you’ve heard the term HD TV by now - also known as high-definition TV. But what exactly is it and do you need to upgrade?
What is HD TV?
HD TV broadcasts are the highest resolution digital broadcasts available. This means superior pictures and sound to standard-definition (SD) TV. But not all HD TVs are created equal. Within the category there are four distinct types, and the higher the number, the better the quality: 1080p (resolution is 1920×1080 pixels), 1080i (1920×1080 pixels), 720p (1280×720 pixels) and 576p (852×576 pixels).
The “p” and “i” stand for progressive and interlaced respectively, and without getting too technical, interlaced content has more pixels and lines, while progressive content is rendered in a smoother manner with less juddering.
Only 1080p can be referred to as “Full HD”.
When buying a HD TV for your home, you will see one of these numbers in the specifications, indicating what content that TV is capable of displaying. This issue is quite a complex one to understand, so if you’re interested you can read more.
CRT HD TVs
Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) televisions - the old-style TVs that most of us grew up with - are rare when it comes to high-definition, but they do exist. They tend to be much cheaper than their flatscreen and rear projector counterparts, so this is the budget option.
Many people believe that CRT TVs provide superior picture quality to most flatscreens. Unfortunately, CRT TVs are bulky and they generally only go up in size to 34 inches.
LCD HD TVs
LCD is the most popular technology when it comes to HD TV and is the logical choice for someone upgrading from an old-style CRT set. In the world of flatscreens, LCD technology is generally preferred for screens under 50 inches, although some manufacturers do make them in sizes larger than this. Plasma TVs perform better in larger sizes, and larger TVs are obviously more expensive than smaller TVs.
Samsung LCD TVs are an ever-popular choice with Australian consumers.
LED HD TVs
A new flatscreen technology to arrive in Australia is LED, which is quite similar to LCD technlogy but performs better and is more energy efficient due to a different type of light being used. You can read more about it here.
If you’re interested in LED TV technology you will probably come across a Sharp LED HD TV at some point.
Plasma HD TVs
As mentioned above, plasma TVs are better at larger sizes, so if you want a big flat HD TV (and you have the money for it), a plasma HD TV is the way to go. For anything upwards of and including 50 inches, plasma is recommended.
Panasonic Viera plasma HD TVs usually perform well.
Rear-projection HD TVs
Do you want to go really, really big with your HD TV? Say, up to a whopping 73-inches? Then rear-pro is for you. Keep in mind that a HD TV at this size could be too large for your living room, so make sure you do your sums first.
Rear-projection TVs aren’t flat (due to the projector being contained within the box itself) and often work best when recessed into the wall in a home theatre situation. There are several different types of Rear-projection HD TVs, including DLP, LCoS and the familiar LCD and CRT. Rear-projection HD TVs tend to be more affordable than plasma HD TVs of the equivalent size.
Sony Bravia rear-projection HD TVs are highly regarded in the industry.
Guide originally published November 13, 2009; updated July 29, 2010.