This topic has been bothering me lately. I have a friend who works in the audio/video department of a company involved with Disney World in Orlando which was why I was surprised by a few comments he made in respects to the popular high-definition (HD) video format market. I tried explaining the difference to him but sometimes it gets real hard to explain when you’d downed 8-9 beers within the hour at a bar and your team’s losing on TV (HDTV ironically) and the screen’s right in front of you.
My sober answers are all based on a summer full of physically experimenting LCDs, CRTs, HD-Ready, HD, and SDTVs with a wide array of cables and a nearly a year of research on them. This is just an attempt to reach out to the masses to clear up some confusion because if a video technician can be so wrong, what about the rest of you out there confused and puzzled about these things. Home improvement through purchasing a screen that can output high definition is what you do these days.
The pictures below from my tv are proof to him that I can see shows on both SD and HD formats through a standard coax-cable. If you’re not sure what that is, it’s the regular kinda cable you plug coming from a tv antenna or the plug-in on the wall.
Friend: HDTVs and HD-Ready TVs are the same. Just different names.
Truth: No. HDTVs come built in with both a digital and analog tuner. The digital tuner is able to output video in the range of 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. HD-ready TVs only come with analog tuners and would require an external HD-tuner device. Both TVs however can output digital video, but only one has a tuner allows high definition broadcast video through coax-cables.
Friend: Ask any Best Buy employee and they will tell you both TVs are essentially the same because HD-Ready TVs can play 1080p video through BluRay players just like HDTVs.
Truth: Of course. They’re looking to sell their products. Both HD and HD-Ready TVs have digital output and are built like computer monitors and more. They can accept digital and analog signals from dvd players depending on the type of cables used.
Friend: Component cables aren’t high definition compared to HDMI.
Truth: Err sorta true. Component (aka YPbPr or RGB) and HDMI can both channel high definition data. The former is based on analog transmissions and there can be some minor (unnoticeable unless you’re a resolution nazi) loss in quality if the cable is beyond 6ft in length and has a max output of 720p. The latter is full digital so it either makes it to the output screen or it doesn’t and it’s output can be taken all the way to 1080p depending on the data.
Friend: 1080i is better than 720p or 720i.
Truth: Our high definition broadcast standards require “high definition” to be in a wide-screen format and starting at 720p. As far as I know, I haven’t seen or heard of 720i since an interlaced screen is basically halving the resolution leaving it at an unacceptable 360p which is even lower than EDTV (Enhanced Definition) resolution of 480p.
480i or standard definition format could be termed as 240p if you’d like because when standard definition video is being outputted to the screen, it skips every other line. So when you compare 1080i to 720p, remember that 1080i has the same amount of video you could see on a 540p resolution (540p screens do not exist) screen which is obviously lower than 720p.
Friend: You’re not watching REAL HDTV channels.
Truth: WRONG! A high-definition channel is any video feed that is being outputted at a resolution higher than 480 pixels tall or anything higher than the EDTV (enhanced definition) format, 480p. A video may not have to be considered DIGITAL if it’s not being fed through a direct digital physical connection. Just make sure it’s HIGH DEFINITION.
Do note that the above results won’t be possible through an HD-Ready TV unless you buy/rent a digital tuner box which will set you back by around 80 bucks a piece. Also, my TV has a max output of 1080i meaning it should be able to output 480i/p, 720p, and 1080i.