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What is HDTV?

Michael Anissimov
Updated May 16, 2024
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HDTV stands for high definition television, a new means of broadcasting and the machines that take advantage of it. HDTV broadcasts video digitally, in contrast to the common analog formats PAL, NTSC, and SECAM. HDTVs first became available in 1998. Since then, television manufacturers have been doing as much as they can to encourage their customers to buy an HDTV for their next television.

HDTVs require an HDTV tuner to pick up high definition programming. These typically run about 150 US dollars (USD) and are compatible with any HDTV. Some HDTVs come with built-in tuners.

HDTV is defined as having 1080 active pixel lines and a screen with a length-to-height ratio of 16:9. This screen shape departs from decades of the conventional ratio of 4:3. The new ratio lends itself better to widescreen movies. HDTV resolution is about twice as high as typical CRT sets, which have 480 active pixel lines instead of 1080.

The increase in resolution is just one of the benefits of HDTV. Because the image is digital rather than analog, it tends to be much sharper on televisions of all sizes. Its image display technology is "progressive" rather than "interlaced", meaning that the entire picture is continuously shown, rather than alternating between partial picture displays as in a conventional television. Interlaced pixels and low refresh rates are responsible for the flickering effect seen in older televisions.

HDTV has been slow to catch on. The sets are still very expensive, in the neighborhood of 1000 USD. The Internet is causing people to watch TV less. There is limited high definition programming available although more and more channels support high definition. Getting the programming often requires a dedicated subscription although some programming can be received by a VHF/UHF antenna.

Digital television uses the MPEG-2 image compression standard, also used by DVDs, to minimize the data size of video for transmission. In 2006, it will be required for all new televisions to support digital signals, but not necessarily high definition signals.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov

Michael is a longtime EasyTechJunkie contributor who specializes in topics relating to paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism. In addition to being an avid blogger, Michael is particularly passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. He has also worked for the Methuselah Foundation, the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and the Lifeboat Foundation.

Discussion Comments

By anon965642 — On Aug 13, 2014

Compatible, my butt. I would never go out and spend 150.00 on a piece of worthless trash of HDTV that is totally useless to the average buyer and to the average customer without getting the exact amount and knowing what all is included in the package deal first and all the ramifications that come along with it.

And besides, when you buy iPhones, iPads, Androids and Blackberries, they are just ripping you off even more than Amazon, Yelp and Apple are, along with Facebook, Yahoo and Google.

Furthermore, plasma high definition and standard televisions are a lost cause and nobody wants to buy these types of things, either, unlike petroleum, gas, oil and diesel. Nobody will want to buy that kind of crap in a million years, not even million or billion dollar contracts, for that matter. What a rip off.

By Kamchatka — On Oct 08, 2010

@ellaesans - I would not be too sure about price drops. The recession might be world wide, but that doesn't mean that people are going to be willing to accommodate. LCD HDTV deals aren't hard to come by anyway with all the hot competition in the electronics market now... that's thanks to the recession, too. Word might go around, but you might want to research things a little further before you say anything for certain.

By ellaesans — On Oct 08, 2010

@doppler - You're right. Cheap LCD HDTV's can be found pretty much anywhere now. There is a lot of argument over what's better the LCD or Plasma. Plasmas are pretty light weight, but the LCD is pretty eye catching with it's newly lowered prices. Word is that there will be another price drop in TVs around the holidays. The good news is that it is not supposed to just be temporary either.

By doppler — On Oct 08, 2010

High definition TV's are pretty much a standard nowadays. The best LCD HDTV's can be found at any electronics store and since the emergence of the Plasma they have become fairly cheap as well.

Michael Anissimov

Michael Anissimov

Michael is a longtime EasyTechJunkie contributor who specializes in topics relating to paleontology, physics, biology...

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