Study the Basics
Understanding the basic vocabulary behind HDTV is a part of every successful conversion. It can be easy to get lost in all the acronyms and numbers. But, don’t panic. You don’t need to learn every high-tech term. Actually there are just a handful of basic concepts you’ll want to be familiar with.
HDTV: High-definition television describes TVs with resolutions of 720p or higher. It also describes the system by which HD broadcasts are sent and received. Today’s HDTV sets are digital.
SDTV: Standard-definition televisions have resolutions of less than 720p. They can be digital or analog.
EDTV: Enhanced-definition televisions are a step above SDTVs, but not considered HDTVs.
Progressive Scan: A method for displaying moving images on a screen in which every line is drawn en totem in each frame. Progressive scanning makes images look better than the traditional interlacing method.
Interlacing: A method for displaying moving images in which only every other line is drawn in a frame. When transferring images, interlacing saves bandwidth, but appears to flicker slightly when compared to progressive scanning. The 1080i content doesn’t appear as nicely as 1080p content. However, experts say watching 1080i content on a 1080p-capable TVs is not much better than watching 720p content, especially from further than a few feet away.
720p, 1080p: 720p is the lowest “content-resolution standard” considered high-definition. 1080p is currently the highest content resolution in existence. The “720” stands for 720 lines of vertical display and “p” stands for progressive scan. Most 720p content generally assumes a widescreen ratio of 16:9 and a horizontal resolution of 1280 pixels. Meanwhile the 1080p content also assumes a widescreen ratio of 16:9, but with 1080 lines of vertical display and a horizontal resolution of 1920 pixels. Remember, the more pixels, the higher the resolution and the higher the resolution, the “better” the TV looks up close. However, not much programming is available in 1080p, so unless you plan on watching lots of HD movies, going with a 720-capable model can be okay.
1080i: 1080i is a high-definition resolution standard like 720p and 1080p. Programs broadcast in 1080i have the same number of pixels as 1080p programs, but they use interlacing rather than progressive scan (explained above) to deliver moving images.