Feeds

HD TV in the UK

Need a next-gen telly? We'll put you in the picture

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Aspect ratio

A decent SD or HD TV can handle a change in aspect ratio with minimal fuss, which is useful as some content, such as the news, is still broadcast in old-style 4:3 (width:height), while movies and much of the current crop of TV are transmitted in a widescreen, 16:9 format, but you'll notice that the news, for instance, tends to be 4:3 so if your TV is a bit stubborn, Huw Edward's face will look horribly distorted as though he is near a high gravity field.

The situation is going to get worse when we add HD content to the mix as your TV will have to be flexible enough to chop and change aspect ratio and resolution. Most HD content will be transmitted in 720p so in theory you'll lose some detail if you buy a 1080i TV but in practice the TV broadcast passes through so many compression/decompression and coding/decoding cycles that this is a relatively minor problem.

Sky in the past said it has "opted for both 720p and 1080i", but it recently announced that it will broadcast everything in 1080i. This despite the fact that most US HDTV is broadcast in 720p so Sky will have to upscale imported content to 1080i, and most European TV standards bodies recommend 720p. We say ‘watch this space’ to see if Sky goes back on this slightly barmy plan.

Sony Bravia X series LCD TV

You can watch low-resolution SD TV on a high-resolution HD TV and it looks perfectly acceptable, provided the hardware is decent - again, get the shop to demo both. If you're unconvinced you can splash out £90 on an LG DVK9900H upscaler which supports 1080i and will convert an SD picture to HDTV resolution, but we strongly suggest that you try before you buy. By its nature upscaling technology has to guess how to scale a 768 x 576 picture up to, say, 1,280 x 720, and the resolution won't be as clear and as sharp as a picture that is displayed at its native resolution.

Size matters?

If you're happy with PAL TV on a 32in CRT then 720 HD content will look equally good on a quality 40in HDTV, but if you're heading for 50in territory you ought to consider 1080i. This is the resolution supported by the next-generation optical disc formats Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD, and it's where things start to get tricky.

In theory, a 1080p-capable HD TV delivers the ultimate in quality, but in practice they are very thin on the ground and also rather expensive. 1080i is superb for a very large home cinema TV but is unlikely to deliver any practical benefit in everyday use. It can yield better-looking still images than the lower-resolution 720p, but is effectively no more detailed in fast-moving sequences. For that reason, 720p is likely to be the mainstream broadcast standard for some years to come.

JVC Dynapix 36in HD-ready LCD idtv

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
End of buttons? Apple looks to patent animating iPhone sidewalls
Filing suggests handset with display strips
One step closer to ROBOT BUTLERS: Dyson flashes vid of VACUUM SUCKER bot
Latest cleaner available for world+dog in September
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Tim Cook in Applerexia fears: New MacBook THINNER THAN EVER
'Supply chain sources' give up the goss on new iLappy
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.