Pre-guide Overview

If you want High Definition viewing then only buy a screen that carries the 'HD Ready' logo. If you also want digital sound as well then ensure the screen is 'HD Ready' with 'HDMI' connections, all you need then is a High Definition video source.

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Where can I get High Definition content?

1) High Definition video players are available now and can take standard DVD formats and 'upscale' it into a High Definition Format.

2) Sony won the war in HD format battle so buy Sony 'Blu-Ray' discs for High Definition video content that can then be played on a High Definition video player and output on an HD Ready TV for the true High Definition experience from source to screen.

3) High Definition video cameras are widely available and they can record and playback content in High Definition.

4) Satellite subscription services transmit content in a High Definition.

5) Microsoft and Sony both have games consoles that can output content in High Definition.

6) The BBC aims to eventually transmit all programs in a High Definition format by 2010

With time, all content is expected to become High Definition.

Abbreviations:

SD = Standard Definition

SDTV = Standard Definition Television.

HD = High Definition.

HDTV = High Definition Television.

What is High Definition?

Then: (Analogue)

Traditional televisions display images in analogue formats such as a PAL (Phase Alternation Line, which is mainly used in Europe) and NTSC (National Televisions Systems Committee, which is mainly used in America). PAL typically operates at '625 lines-50Hz' meaning that individual images using the PAL format of resolution are made up of 625 individual horizontal lines that update or 'refresh' at the rate of 50 times per second. This is known as Standard Definition TV. (SDTV).

Now: (Digital)

For analogue Televisions, horizontal scan lines are not divided into pixels. For today's digital displays the number of pixels used to create any image is indicated by the number of pixels used in one horizontal and one vertical line for that particular display. e.g., today's most popular level of resolution is 'XGA' = 1024 x 768, meaning each image is made up of 786,432 individual pixels.

Resolution can be used to describe picture quality. The higher the resolution, the better the picture quality. Higher resolution means that more pixels have been used to create the image and the more pixels that are used, the sharper and clearer the displayed image will appear.

Future: (High Definition)

High Definition Television (HDTV) offers at least twice the level of resolution that Standard Definition TV (SDTV) can offer. This allows for much more detail to be shown in individual images when compared to analogue TV or regular DVD's. In addition to this, the actual broadcasting of HDTV will allow true widescreen images (16:9 aspect ratio) to be viewed without the 'letterbox' affect (with black lines appearing at the top and bottom of the screen) as commonly happens in Standard Definition Televisions.

HD Formats

(Note, most HD Ready screens will still support the older Standard Definition content until High Definition becomes mainstream.)

There are different types of High Definition formats are they are described using a notation, which shows

1) The number of lines in the display resolution

2) The number of frames or fields per second. (But this part is often left out to avoid confusion!)

3) Whether the format is 'p' Progressive OR 'i' Interlaced.

Progressive, is a method of display where the lines that make up each individual image are created in sequence one after the other. This is in contrast to the Interlaced format that is used in traditional televisions. Often screens that offer Progressive scanning are capable of 'deinterlacing' which means images received in an Interlaced format can still be viewed. Interlaced, is a method of displaying images in which the display itself alternates between drawing the even-numbered lines and the odd-numbered lines of each image.

Advantages of Progressive scan Vs Interlaced scan:

1) Progressive Scan creates clearer images with less flickering as the whole image is updating in a fraction of second instead of only half the image updating. e.g., formats such as 1080i (1920x1080i -interlaced) will in most instances deliver a poorer quality image than 720p (1280 x 720progressive)

2) Less tiring on the eyes creating more comfortable viewing.

The actual formats:

480p = 640 x 480 pixels progressive

480i = 640 x 480 pixels interlaced

576p = 720 x 576 pixels progressive

576i = 720 x 576 pixels interlaced

720p = 1280 x 720 pixels progressive

720i = 1280 x 720 pixels interlaced

1080p = 1920 x 1080 pixels progressive

1080i = 1920 x 1080 pixels interlaced

'HD Ready'

This is the term given to a screen that can receive a High Definition content signal AND display in a High Definition format.

If you want High Definition viewing then only buy a screen that carries the 'HD Ready' logo. If you also want digital sound as well then ensure the screen is HD Ready with HDMI connections. (See below for more info' on HDMI.)

Screens that are not 'HD ready' will not display High Definition content. If you try and plug a High Definition video Player (or any other High Definition content source) into a screen that is not 'HD Ready' then the image displayed will still not be High Definition!

Some screens are sold as being 'HD Compatible' and this where the screen can accept a High Definition signal but will NOT actually display in a High Definition format. During 2004 some screens were being sold as simply being 'HD' but were not actually capable of displaying in High Definition formats.

Because of this confusion the 'HD Ready' logo was adopted by manufacturers, in the early part of 2005, to try and highlight to consumers that only screens sold with an 'HD Ready' logo were truly capable of both receiving and displaying High Definition content. Again, if you want High Definition viewing then only buy a screen that carries the 'HD Ready' logo. If you also want digital sound as well then ensure the screen is 'HD Ready' with HDMI connections.

High Definition Connections & Cables

1) HDMI

HDMI cables allow both High Definition picture AND digital Audio to be carried in one cable.

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is the first and only industry-supported, uncompressed, all-digital audio & video interface. HDMI provides a single cable interface between any audio & video source, (such as a set-top box, DVD player, or AV receiver) and video display, (such as Plasma or LCDTV screens).

HDMI supports standard, enhanced, or high-definition video, plus multi-channel digital audio on a single cable. It transmits all ATSC HDTV standards and supports 8-channel digital audio, with bandwidth to spare to accommodate future enhancements and requirements.

Who supports HDMI?

The HDMI Founders include leading consumer electronics manufacturers Hitachi , Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic), Philips, Sony, Thomson (RCA), Toshiba, and Silicon Image. Digital Content Protection, LLC (a subsidiary of Intel) is providing High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) for HDMI. In addition, HDMI has the support of major motion picture producers Fox, Universal, Warner Bros. and Disney, and system operators DirecTV, EchoStar (Dish Network) as well as CableLabs.

How do consumers benefit from HDMI?

The new HDMI digital interconnect provides:

1. Superior, uncompressed digital video and audio quality

2. A simple, single cable and user-friendly connector that replaces the maze of cabling behind the entertainment centre

3. Integrated remote control

4. A popular interface enabling the transmission of high-definition content. HDMI opens the floodgate of digital content from major motion picture producers

What is the life expectancy of HDMI?

HDTV uses less than 1/2 of HDMI's available 5 Gbps bandwidth. With capacity to spare, HDMI can incorporate new technology advancements and capabilities long into the foreseeable future. The next battle will be for the actual broadcasters as they struggle to transmit 1080p high definition content.

What are the advantages of HDMI over existing analogue interfaces such as composite, S-Video and component video?

Quality: HDMI transfers uncompressed digital audio and video for the highest, crispest image quality.

All-Digital: HDMI ensures an all-digital rendering of video without the losses associated with analogue interfaces and their unnecessary digital-to-analogue conversions.

Low-cost: HDMI provides the quality and functionality of a digital interface while also supporting uncompressed video formats in a simple, cost-effective manner.

Audio: HDMI supports multiple audio formats, from standard stereo to multi-channel surround-sound.

Ease-of-use: HDMI combines video and multi-channel audio into a single cable, eliminating the cost, complexity, and confusion of multiple cables currently used in A/V systems.

Is HDMI backward compatible with DVI (Digital Visual Interface)?

Yes, HDMI is fully backward-compatible with DVI using the CEA-861 profile for DTVs. HDMI DTVs will display video received from existing DVI-equipped products, and DVI-equipped TVs will display video from HDMI sources.

Will current HD TVs and set-top boxes using DVI-HDTV be compatible with HDMI devices?

Yes. Currently there are TVs with DVI-HDTV inputs available from a wide variety of manufacturers. These devices will be compatible with future HDMI-equipped products.

What types of video does HDMI support?

HDMI has the capacity to support existing high-definition video formats (720p, 1080i, and even 1080p). It also has the flexibility to support enhanced definition formats such as 480p, as well as standard definition formats such as NTSC or PAL.

Does HDMI support Dolby 5.1 audio and high-resolution audio formats?

Yes. From the start, HDMI was defined to carry 8-channels, of 192kHz, 24-bit uncompressed audio, which exceeds all current consumer media formats. In addition, HDMI can carry any flavour of compressed audio format such as Dolby or DTS. (Such compressed formats are the only multi-channel or high-resolution audio formats that can be carried across the older S/PDIF or AES/EBU interfaces.) The fact that the vast majority of HDMI products shipped are two-channel TVs that don't support more than two-channel audio doesn't make this any less the case. Most existing HDMI sources can output any compressed stream, and the newer sources can output uncompressed 6-channel, 96kHz audio from a DVD-Audio disk. There are several AV receivers on the market that can accept and process the 6-or 8-channel audio from HDMI and more are expected to be available as time goes on.

Does HDMI accommodate long cable lengths?

Yes. HDMI technology has been designed to use standard copper cable construction at long lengths. In order to allow cable manufacturers to improve their products through the use of new technologies, HDMI specifies the required performance of a cable but does not specify a maximum cable length. Cable manufacturers are expected to sell reasonably priced copper cables at lengths of up to 15 meters. As semiconductor technology improves, even longer stretches can be reached with fibre optic cables, and with active cable technologies such as amplifiers or repeaters.

Does HDMI provide a secure interface?

While no security system is one hundred percent secure, HDMI, when used in combination with HDCP, provides an audio/video interface that meets the security requirements of content providers and systems operators.

What is HDCP?

HDCP (High Definition Content Protection) is a content protection technology available for use in connection with HDMI that was developed by Intel Corporation (with input from Silicon Image). HDCP is not licensed by HDMI Licensing, LLC, but by Digital Content Protection, LLC (a subsidiary of Intel). For more information on HDMI please visit www.hdmi.org

High Definition Connections & Cables - DVI

DVI (Digital Video Interface) -This is a type of connection and cable that allows a digital connection from a source device (PC) to display (your screen). It only allows for images to be shown digitally and does not carry sound. If you want both digital images (video) and digital sound you need an HDMI connection. The DVI connection removes the need for analogue connections, cables and signal conversion and means that each individual pixel in the image can be controlled directly. This creates better image quality without the possible affects of analogue distortion and interference.

There are three types of connections available:

1) 'DVI-D' - Digital. This format offers 'Digital to Digital' connection only.

2) 'DVI-A' - Analogue. This format allows you to connect a digital source device to an Analogue display such as the older CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitor or TV.

3) 'DVI-I' - A combination of both, the 'DVI-I' connection can carry digital-to-digital and/or 'Analogue-to-Analogue' signals.

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