NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, January 2007
Buying an HDTV?
By Bob Elgines,
Editor, Colorado River Computer Club, AZ

Elginesz@rraz.net (click to email author)

There are three things necessary for true High Definition (HD) Television (TV): an HDTV, HD receiver (or tuner) and HD programming. All TV stations will be capable of HD by 2007.

New HDTVs are here and will be required starting in 2009; but, of course, there will be converters available. The standard for Antilog TV was 525 lines per frame vertically. The old mandates of FCC requirements were first 2004, and then 2007. There are many HDTV models out there and some of the description of their characteristics are confusing. Hopefully I can clear up a few items of concern.

First let us consider the three types of TV screens or TV monitors:
1. LCD – Cheaper in price.
They can be wall mounted;
37” weighs about 50 to 60 pounds;
Sizes up to 52”; 4” to 5” thick;
160 degree view angle (with decreasing contrast);
Lasts 10 to 20 years;
The thinnest, lightest sets and have minimum reflection of lights in the room.

2. PLASMA – Moderate in price.
They can be wall mounted;
42” weighs about 85 to 90 pounds;
Sizes 42” and up; 4” to 5” thick;
170 degree view angle (contrast good thru-out);
Lasts 10 to 20 years;
Better color accuracy and displaying the deepest black, but screen's shiny surface can produce reflections of lights in the room and static images can "burn-in" and produce a ghost image.

3. DLP – (digital light processing).
Moderate in price for size;
Not wall mounted;
42” weighs about 45 to 60 pounds;
Sizes 42” and up;
8” to 15” thick;
160 degree view angle (contrast good thru-out);
Lasts 8 to 10 years (bulb or lamp);
A "rainbow effect" that some viewers may notice on the edges of bright objects on the screen. DLP is used in most new projectors.

Second, lets discuss Resolution (pixels are the number of dots per line), the higher the resolution the better the picture, or higher quality. The old Standard Digital TV format is 720 (Horizontal) x 480 (Vertical). The new HDTV formats are 720 and 1080, but most HDTVs also allow using the 480 standard. There are not many things out there for the 1080 “i or p” format. Where “p”= Progressive – draws lines on screen from top to bottom, and is considered the best for high speed movement without blur. Whereas “i”= Interlace – draws odd lines from top to bottom then even lines from top to bottom.

1024 x 768 pixels, 1366 x 768 pixels, and 1780 x 720 pixels all fall under the 720p format and many 720p-HDTVs accept the 1080i format.

1920 x 1080s fall under either the 1080i or 1080p format and most accept the 720p format.

Screen size is measured diagonally. Therefore, if you now have a 32” TV, you will most likely want a 37” to 42” for your replacement. That way you will have basically the same height, but of course it will be wider.

Third, let’s discuss other concerns such as inputs and outputs (most sets come with stereo sound speaker systems): 1. HDMI – latest version is 1.3, this is a connector that requires a special cable and is not usually included with your TV. This could be used for 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound systems, video games such as X-Box, HD-Cable boxes, HD-DVD players, etc.

2. Component – One to three inputs are provided, used to connect DVD Players, games, etc.

3. Cable Slot – latest version is 2.0, used for Cable Simm Cards. Most cable companies are not interested, but new FCC mandates starting next year, 2007, may change this. Also some companies are considering including the Cable Card internally.

4. Tuners - Usually two tuners are included, one NTSC (we are now using Antilog & Digital TV, also called Standard TV) and one ATSC (this is the new HD digital TV tuner, required for HDTV). Stay away from a TV listed as "HD-ready", it does not have an ATSC tuner.

Summary. It boils down to what you think looks and operates the best for your situation. Ask questions and check out the specification of the unit you wish to buy. If you are upgrading your cable or satellite service to HDTV, be sure to ask for "hi-def", not digital. Good luck!

There is no restriction against any non-profit group using this article as long as it is kept in context with proper credit given the author. The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization of which this group is a member, brings this article to you.

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