Thursday, 13 March 2008
Yes it is!
According to the New Zealand Herald High Def Freeview will become available as early as next month!
check out the story here
Monday, 3 March 2008
The latest and Greatest HDTV4U
Simply the best HDTV out there.
But at a price!
The best in the range for Sony HDTV, a true LCD masterpiece.
Finally the best selling plasma display :
Pansonic TH-50PZ70B comes in sleek and stylish design, matched by its excellent picture.
The 720-line system is the most common format for the launch of HD television. The 720-line system is 1280 pixels across, so the resolution is 1280 x 720, giving just over twice the resolution of a 625-line standard definition picture.
The 1080-line system is the other common HD format. A 1080-line system has 1080 vertical pixels and 1920 horizontal pixels, with up to five times the resolution of a standard definition picture.
This refers to the ratio of a pictures width relative to it’s height. The aspect ratio of a standard television is 4:3, whereas HDTV has an aspect ratio of 16:9, for a more intense viewing experience. The more common names for aspect ratio are ‘Widescreen’ or ‘Letter-box’.
Also known as ‘Dolby Digital’ this is the 5.1-channel sound system specified in the Standard for Digital HDTV, delivering CD quality digital audio from six speakers, front left, right and centre (where most of the ‘voice’ comes from), rear left and right plus a subwoofer for depth, to produce a cinematic sound! True 5.1-channel sound is only available via a home cinema system .
‘Bits per second’ or bps, expresses the rate at which data is transmitted. Generally, the higher the bit rate, the better the image and sound quality.
Expressed as candelas per square metre (cd/m2) brightness simply indicates how much light is emitted by the screen. A higher candela means a brighter picture.
Three connectors (usually red, green and blue RCA jacks) that transmit and receive component video signals. The combination of these signals conveys all the picture information.
Essentially contrast ratio is a comparison of a screens blackest black and whitest white.A higher contast ratio indicates that on screen colours will be richer.
Digital Video Interface. DVI is a type of cable connector which provides a high-bandwidth connection between a video source and a display device.
Electronic Programme Guide. An onscreen display of channels and programme data.
High Definition Multimedia Interface is a digital connection for video/audio data. It ensures a high-quality video signal is delivered to your display via a single cable.
This is a copyright protection system that is incorporated into HD receivers and displays. It stands for High definition Digital Content Protection and prevents unauthorised use of content which is copyrighted.
Liquid Crystal Displays are flat-panel televisions designed to offer superior images. A liquid crystal solution is sandwiched between two panels and electrified. This causes the crystals to act as ‘shutters’, some allowing light to pass through, other blocking light out. These ‘shutters’ on the electrified crystals form the image on the LCD TV.
A pixel is literally a single dot on the screen and the pixels form the image on your display. The more pixels, the better the picture. With HDTV there are many more pixels (typically 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720) than with Standard Definition TV (720 x 576), giving a crisper, clearer and sharper picture.
A compatible plasma TV is one way to display HDTV. The image is created by hundreds of thousands of tiny cells filled by ionized gas in a plasma state.
The measure of the amount of detail an image can show. HD has a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 which equates to 2,073,000 pixels whereas standard definition has a resolution of 720 x 576. The higher the resolution – the better the resulting image.
Standard Definition (SDTV)
This is the traditional definition television system, currently used. A standard definition picture is 720 x 576 pixels.
LCDs were originally designed as computer monitors, and as such were designed for head on viewing. Viewed at an angle these early screens lost much of their contrast and brightness. In response to this manufacturers are continually increasing viewing angles for LCDs where the quality is retained. Viewing angles as high as 176 degrees are now being achieved.
What screen is right for me?
You've decided that HDTV is for you and you're ready to hit the high street. You've heard about LCD, Plasma, and Rear Projection, but what are the differences? what are the pros and cons of each technology? and which one is right for me?
Plasma TV’s screens are perfectly flat. They produce natural, vibrant colours while maintaining a very high level of detail. Pixels on a Plasma screen are ‘lit’ at once, unlike normal TVs, where the image is scanned across the screen. The image is therefore sharper and brighter.
This is great for regular room lighting and can be watched from most distances and angles without affecting your viewing experience. Even as you get closer to the screen, you will not be affected by changes in picture or colour quality. They are only a few inches thin which provides a lot of options when it comes to installation.
In addition to stand mounting, they can be hung on a wall or from a ceiling. All plasma TVs are designed in widescreen.
Plasma displays do not use electron beams, as conventional TV displays do. They are therefore immune to the effects of magnetic fields. This allows for speakers to be placed quite close and will not compromise your home cinema set up.
Main advantages of Plasma over LCD are:
Larger screen size availability – Plasma screens range from 37" up to 60" (although the choice of LCD TV's up to 50in is growing rapidly). Better contrast ratio and ability to render deeper blacks. Better colour accuracy and saturation. Better motion tracking (little or no motion lag in fast moving images).
Main disadvantages of Plasma over LCD include:
Plasma TVs are more susceptible to burn-in of static images.Plasma TVs generate more heat than LCDs, due to the need to light of phosphors to create images, and consequently use considerably more power.Does not perform as well at higher attitude.
LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. This means that the screen is made up of millions of tiny liquid crystal molecules, called pixels. These function like a camera shutter, allowing light to either pass through or be blocked as voltage is individually applied so they change state to create an 'image'. The colour is added to the LCD display through three filters (red, green, and blue) that are applied to each pixel. LCD TV screens always maintain sharp, clear pictures without reflection from artificial lights or bright sunlight through windows.
LCD technology is extremely lightweight therefore products are both highly portable and versatile. With screen sizes ranging from 13" (4:3) to 40"+ widescreen, this means you can watch LCD TV wherever you want!
This means flicker-free images for a more comfortable viewing experience with less eyestrain, even when viewing close-up. Also, since no static electricity is generated on a LCD screen it remains virtually dust free and clean for perfect viewing all the time.
Main LCD television advantages over plasma include:
No burn-in of static images. Cooler running temperature. No high altitude use issues. Increased image brightness over plasma.
Main disadvantages of LCD vs. Plasma televisions include:
Lower contrast ratio, not as good rendering deep blacks. Not as good at tracking motion.
Who is providing HDTV?
Having bought your shiny new HDTV, you’re ready to watch high definition programmes right? Well, not quite. You will need to take out a HD subscription with a satellite (Sky) or cable broadcaster (Virgin Media). Having installed an HD receiving box (note: this is a different piece of kit from your existing cable/satellite box) you will be ready to go.
So all of the old programmes I’ve been watching on my new TV will now be High Definition? Well, unfortunately not. HDTV providers have dedicated HD channels which provide a limited, but growing choice of programmes in the high definition format.
You may have heard that the BBC have created a number of HD channels, these aare excellent and can be recieved via HD set top box.
We cannot stress strongly enough here on HDTV4U that taking out a High Definition subscription with Sky or Virgin Media does not make all of your tv programmes available in this format. The number of channels is growing, but limited, and as of writing Sky has the widest choice. See below for more details ...
Sky's HD offering
Sky HD Sports 1 and 2
Sky HD Movies 1 and 2
Sky Box Office 1 and 2
Sky One HD
National Geographic HD
The Discovery Channel HD
BBC HD trial channel
Channel 4 HD
Sky currently offer 12 dedicated HD channels as well as the BBC's trial channel.Premiership football is a big attraction for those thinking of a HD subscription, and at the moment Sky has taken a big lead here broadcasting regular premiership games on its HD sports channels.
Many dramas are already shot in HD such as the Sopranos and Desperate Housewives in the US. The BBC, which already has a large catalogue of HD material is committed to recording everything in HD by 2010.Note:
Sky's latest High Definition channel, Channel 4 HD, is a 'simulcast' of the Standard Definition channel 4, with HD programmes being shown where possible.
Sky currently charge £199 for their HD box and £26 per month subscription for the HD broadcasting service (check with Sky for current prices / offers).
Following the re-branding of Telewest/NTL as Virgin Media, consumers will now need to get V+ box (formerly the TVDrive) which is currently free, and take out a £10 a month subscription to Virgin Media's HD service.At the time of writing Virgin Media don't have any dedicated HD channels, but offer a growing selection of hi-def programmes on demand. At the moment there are a selection of programmes from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. There is also a range of HD on-demand movies available.
Unlike cable, satellite is available in most areas of the country, and at the moment Sky has taken a slight lead with its HD offering. View their website to get full details.
Virgin Media offer a range of cable services which include HD subscription services. These services may not be available in some rural areas. Also, if you are planning to sign-up for broad band check that this is available in your area. View their website to get full details.
Are you ready for HDTV?
The HD Ready logo appears on all TV screens and projectors that are compatible with HDTV signals.
HD Ready screens must meet the following specification:
Minimum 720 vertical lines (the latter figure when a resolution is written out, e.g. 1280 x 720)
Analogue component video and either DVI or HDMI inputs
Able to display 720p (1280 x 720 at 50Hz and 60Hz progressive)
Able to display 1080i (1920 x 1080 at 50Hz and 60Hz interlaced)
Food for thought:
So you’ve decided to take the plunge, and dive head first into the exciting new world of HDTV. You’re anxious to get out there and buy your HDTV kit, but before you do, theres some things to consider.
The stunning 42" screen displays that greet you at the entrance of most major retailers are certainly impressive, but what they display is not necessarily what you want just at the moment.
A little bit of work is required to find out exactly what is best for you, but don’t worry, here at HDTV4U we’ve made it easy for you.
Remember that HDTV in the UK is booming industry, and although programmes broadcast in HDTV are available, the current range of programme choice is a fraction of that available in the conventional format. But even that is soon to change!
Your new HDTV will show all the programmes that you have been used to watching, but you will need to find out more about the providers who are currently broadcasting HDTV to determine exactly what you can watch in the new format, what equipment you will need, and how much its all going to cost.
1080p or 720p or what does this mean?
What is 1080p?
1080p resolution--which equates to 1,920x1,080 pixels--is the current Holy Grail of HDTV resolution. That's because most 1080p HDTVs are capable of displaying every pixel of the highest-resolution HD broadcasts. They offer more than twice the resolution of step-down models, which are typically 1,366x768, 1,280x720, or 1,024x768. These days, HDTVs with any of those three of lower resolutions are typically called "720p." Nobody wants to remember all those numbers, and "768p" doesn't really roll off the tongue.
Why is 1080p theoretically better than 1080i?
1080i, the former king of the HDTV hill, actually boasts an identical 1,920x1,080 resolution but conveys the images in an interlaced format (the i in 1080i). In a tube-based television, otherwise known as a CRT, 1080i sources get "painted" on the screen sequentially: the odd-numbered lines of resolution appear on your screen first, followed by the even-numbered lines--all within 1/30 of a second. Progressive-scan formats such as 480p, 720p, and 1080p convey all of the lines of resolution sequentially in a single pass, which makes for a smoother, cleaner image, especially with sports and other motion-intensive content.
What content is available in 1080p?
Today's high-def broadcasts are done in either 1080i or 720p, and there's little or no chance they'll jump to 1080p any time soon because of bandwidth issues. Even the much-vaunted high-def games on the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 are usually 720p native (if not less), though they can be upscaled to 1080i or 1080p in the user settings of those consoles.
Really, the only commercially available way to get true 1080p output--aside from hooking your PC to your HDTV--is to get a Blu-ray or HD DVD player.
All Blu-ray players and some high-end HD DVD models support 1080p output, and--more importantly--the vast majority of discs are natively encoded at 1080p.
What happens when you feed a 1080i signal to a 720p TV?
The 1080i signal is scaled, or downconverted, to 720p. Nearly all recent HDTVs are able to do this.
What happens when you feed a 1080p signal to 720p TV?
Assuming the TV can accept a 1080p signal, it will be scaled to 720p. But that caveat is important: many older 720p HDTVs--and yes, even some older 1080p models--cannot even accept 1080p signals at all, in which case you'll get a blank screen. Thankfully, most newer HDTVs can accept 1080p signals.
What happens when you feed a 1080i signal to a 1080p TV?
It's converted to 1080p with no resolution conversion. Instead, the 1080i signal is "de-interlaced" for display in 1080p. Some HDTVs do a better job of this de-interlacing process than others, but usually the artifacts caused by improper de-interlacing are difficult for most viewers to spot.
Side by side, how do 720p and 1080p TVs match up in head-to-head tests?
We spend a lot of time looking at a variety of source material on a variety of TVs. When I wrote my original article two years ago, many 1080p TVs weren't as sharp as they claimed to be on paper. By that, I mean a lot of older 1080p sets couldn't necessarily display all 2 million-plus pixels in the real world--technically, speaking, they couldn't "resolve" every line of a 1080i or 1080p test pattern.
That's changed in the last couple of years. Most 1080p sets are now capable of fully resolving 1080i and 1080p material.
That hasn't altered our views about 1080p TVs. We still believe that when you're dealing with TVs 50 inches and smaller, the added resolution has only a very minor impact on picture quality. On a regular basis in our HDTV reviews, we put 720p (or 768p) sets next to 1080p sets, then feed them both the same source material, whether it's 1080i or 1080p, from the highest-quality Blu-ray and HD DVD players. We typically watch both sets for a while, with eyes darting back and forth between the two, looking for differences in the most-detailed sections, such as hair, textures of fabric, and grassy plains. Bottom line: It's almost always very difficult to see any difference--especially from farther than 8 feet away on a 50-inch TV.
The fact is, resolution is resolution, and whether you're looking at a Sony or a Westinghouse, 1080p resolution--which relates to picture sharpness--is the same and is a separate issue from black levels and color accuracy.
The extra sharpness afforded by the 1080p televisions he's seen is noticeable only when watching 1080i or 1080p sources on a larger screens, say 55 inches and bigger, or with projectors that display a wall-size picture. Katzmaier also says that the main real-world advantage of 1080p is not the extra sharpness you'll be seeing, but instead, the smaller, more densely packed pixels. In other words, you can sit closer to a 1080p television and not notice any pixel structure, such as stair-stepping along diagonal lines, or the screen door effect (where you can actually see the space between the pixels). This advantage applies regardless of the quality of the source.
OK, so what's the bottom line: Should I go 1080p or 720p?
First and foremost, some people just want what's considered the best spec on a TV. If you're one of those people, spend the extra dough, you'll feel better in the long run. Secondly, if you're thinking of going big, really big (a 55-inch or larger screen), or you like to sit really close (closer than 1.5 times the diagonal measurement), the extra resolution may make it worth the difference--as long as you have a pristine, 1080i or 1080p HD source to feed into the set.
And finally, it's a good idea to go with 1080p if you plan to use your TV a lot as a big computer monitor. That said, if you set your computer to output at 1,920x1,080, you may find that the icons and text on the screen are too small to view from far away (as a result, you may end up zooming the desktop or even changing to a lower resolution). But a 1080p set does give you some added flexibility (and sharpness) when it comes to computer connectivity.
If none of those factors jump out at you as true priorities--and you are working on a tight budget and want to save some dough--a 720p set is going to do you just fine. HD will still look great on your set, I swear.
What is HDTV?
HDTV or High Definition Television offers the highest quality picture available in the world of home entertainment. Instead of using the conventional 576 lines to plot a TV picture, HDTV uses 720 or 1080 lines. In addition, the pixels in each of those lines are closer. This results in a hugely improved picture quality, clarity and colour definition.
Note: Remember that the quality of your picture depends on the source of the broadcast as well as the quality of your TV. You can watch Freeview (576 lines) on a Plasma or LCD screen, but the quality will not be as good as Sky (1080 lines). A Plasma or LCD TV will actually scale whatever source it is fed to fit the screen.
The differences between 720p, 1080i and 1080p
HDTV broadcast pictures come in two formats. The first is 720p ("p" stands for progressive), which is an image comprised of 1280 lines along the horizontal by 720 vertical lines. It shows the whole image in a single frame – that is, progressively.
The second is 1080i, which measures 1920 x 1080 lines and is displayed as two fields that are interlaced. You get a bit more detail with 1080i but the interlaced image is not as smooth as a progressively scanned one.
A high-res screen with at least 720 lines will show both formats but only a 1080-line screen will show 1080i footage at its best, i.e. in an un-scaled form.
As far as Sky is concerned it will be down to the programme maker to choose which format to use.
The 1080p format, which is the absolute best form of HD is not used by broadcasters. Movies made in 1080p (e.g. the last three Star Wars films) might appear in Blu-ray and/or HD DVD format. Sony's PlayStation 3 produces 1080p output.
There are more and more 'Full HD' screens (capable of displaying 1080p) appearing. A 1080p screen can de-interlace a 1080i signal or upscale a standard definition one. With very few 1080p sources available, the main benefit of a Full HD screen is its ability to map a source such as Sky TV (1080i) pixel for pixel to the screens resolution (ie 1920 x 1080).