What Exactly is HDTV?
If youre considering high-definition (HD) TV, your first question is probably, Whats the difference between HD and standard-definition TV? The technical answer is greater resolution - up to 1080 lines of detail versus 480. The non-technical answer is an amazing, lifelike picture 5-10 times clearer than regular TV. See the wind-up, the tension, even the seams on the curve ball. It's as if you're at the game.
Ultimate Picture and Sound
HDTV is the ultimate TV experience, delivering images with higher resolutions, brighter colors and enhanced clarity. Improving the way you view and hear TV, HDTV also offers crisp, high-quality, surround-sound audio capability.* Although HDTV signals have been available for several years (DIRECTV was among the first pay TV services to launch two coast-to-coast high-definition signals for consumers in 1999) there continues to be much confusion about it.
What You Need
Many consumers think just purchasing an HD television set would enable them to experience HD picture and sound. They often end up frustrated when they got their brand-new HD television home and the viewing experience wasn't anything compared to what they encountered at their local retailer. To ensure you're getting a true HD experience, choose the right TV and the right programming.
The Right TV
Most TVs basically work the same way: a signal sends information at the rate of 30 still frames per second. Because of the speed they're displayed, the combined frames appear in continuous motion. This technology has been successful, but isn't capable of delivering the crisp images today's big-screen TVs deserve. Today, consumers have 4 types of TV sets to choose from.
The Right Programming (Why Source Matters)
Because HD is more advanced, you can't just unpack it, plug it in and get the results you're looking for. You'll get a signal, but it won't be HD. There are three ways to get HD programming - cable, satellite or over-the-air antenna. Each option offers unique advantages.
Satellite. With satellite, there are hundreds of HD programs (movies, sports, pay-per-view and more). Providers such as DIRECTV offer set-top receivers that combine HD with digital video recording, enabling viewers to record up to 50 hours of their favorite HDTV programming. Soon, DIRECTV will have the capacity to offer up to 100 HD channels.†
Cable. Cable offers diverse programming and many providers are now bundling their TV services with Internet access. However, those in rural areas may have fewer choices of HD channels than available with a satellite service.
Over-the-Air Antenna. There are no monthly fees, but this service may require a set-top box or separate HDTV tuner to decode over-the-air HD signals. This is fairly limited. It enables the viewer to enjoy their local programming in HD, but not specialty channels.
Ready, Set, Watch
Once you have a TV and service, your HD experience is just a program away. All major network and national channels, including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, HBO and ESPN, offer HD programming that is sure to tempt you.