Feeds

HD TV in the UK

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

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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

Website security in corporate America

More from The Register

next story
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
4K-ing excellent TV is on its way ... in its own sweet time, natch
For decades Hollywood actually binned its 4K files. Doh!
Your chance to WIN the WORLD'S ONLY HANDHELD ZX SPECTRUM
Reg staff not allowed to enter, god dammit
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Monitors monitor's monitoring finds touch screens have 0.4% market share
Not four. Point four. Count yer booty again, Microsoft
Getting to the BOTTOM of the great office seating debate
Belay that toil, me hearty, and park your scurvy backside
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.