HDTV

The Technology and Future of HDTV

High definition television is technically a broadcasting term used to define a way of sending much more detailed signals, resulting in sharper, crisper images. It also now defines hardware components capable of processing that signal and displaying it in a manner fit to the capabilities of the system. It is important to note the fact that HD technology is unusable without the right tools. You may have the latest $8000 camcorder but if you ran out of money and can't afford a HDTV your investment was in vein. To watch HD movies you will need the right medium (HD-DVD) and the right player, that can read HD-DVD's.

Notation

One of the most important things in HDTV technology is the format of the signal, or the picture. It differs from old systems as no real pixels could be spoken of, when we said NTSC has 525 lines it actually only had 480, the remainder had no picture information. In HDTV this is different, there is no need for "blank lines". Format is described for example: 1080i50 means a resolution of 1920x1080 at 50Hz. The first number is the vertical resolution, the letter denotes progressive frames (p), or in our case interlaced frames, shown with "i". The second number shows refresh rate, or in other words frames per second.

Advantages

The advantages over the standard broadcast method are huge. They range from image quality even over to the saving of power! The image itself is about 3-5 times better than SDTV which means that it is more pleasing visually and also is better on your eyes. In fact a film shot with 35mm film could be shown in almost the same detail as it was shot! Sound is broadcast along with it, and the high bandwidth allows for dolby digital to be included, so imagine watching CSI at home, through HDTV programming with Surround Sound! Cool eh? The electrical usage of the systems used is also more efficient so cost cuts can be made, making HDTV more affordable.

Disadvantages

well the obvious disadvantage here is still the price. Not just the actual equipment you buy, but because the technology is still in its early stages the prices are a bit steep. HD camcorders are available and HD DVD's, these are of superior quality, but of superior price too! The war between Blu-ray and HD-DVD may also be a problem because these formats are not compatible (yet at least). The war will eventually end and one will reign supreme, but until then the users see the end of it, the price and the changes, meaning extra costs possibly.

The Future

HDTV is still relatively in its early stages. Recording it is very hard as an uncompressed format needs massive amounts of storage while compressing it is possible but it is very expensive. With the upcoming bluray and HD DVD discs this problem may be partly resolved, but there is a vast market still waiting to be conquered. Suitable compression methods should become available because there will be demand for HDTV camcorders and suitable means to store the content easily. The evolution can be very well seen through the evolution of linked products. They are making better and better HD-DVD's, a new announced one, with three layers, will be capable of storing 45Gb, that's pretty impressive. They are also providing HTPC and Media Centers that support HD content and which is of course best views with an HDTV.

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