High-definition (HD) televisions have improved the standard of household viewing over the past several years. HD televisions can have a picture quality of almost three times that of standard definition (SD). However, in order to take full advantage of your HD television you will need to order the HD package from your cable provider.
What is HD?
High definition is an improvement on the picture quality of standard definition. Standard definition has 480 horizontal lines of resolution. High definition comes in two different resolution variations. There is a middle ground, 720 lines of resolution, and then there is the full 1080 lines of horizontal resolution. This greatly improves the picture quality. In addition, HD is in 16x9 widescreen (screen size is sixteen inches across for every 9 inches tall). This is what standard widescreen movies are displayed in. Typical standard-definition broadcasts are presented in 4x3 (or 16x12). This allows you to view more information on an HD screen, rather than SD.
In North America, National Television Systems Committee (NTSC) is the typical frame rate for broadcasts and movies. NTSC is 24 frames per second, while Phase Alternating Line (PAL), which is used by most of the world, plays content with 25 frames per second. A frame, however, is broken down into different multiple sections. The full frame is never actually on the screen at one time. In fact, one frame is made up of multiple horizontal lines.
For 1080i, the "i" stands for "Interlace." This refers to how the frame is presented on the screen. For interlaced screens the frame is made up of two different sections. Each section displays every other image line. When the second section of the frame appears, the image lines which were left out will now display the content, while the image that was there will now be removed. Because the two sections of the frame are flashed so fast, it appears as if it was one full frame and twenty four frames in the second. While viewing with the naked eye you cannot detect the interlacing in the frames; however, if you have ever used a video camera and recorded a television, you will see the screen flickers on the camera. This is because of the interlacing on the television.
For 1080p, the "p" stands for "progressive." Progressive is slightly different from interlace. Instead of a frame being broken down into two sections of alternating lines of picture, progressive will display the lines in order, from the top to the bottom. With the quickness of the progressive image, you will not be able to detect the frame lines being added repeatedly.
When connecting HD devices together you will need proper connecting equipment. High-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) cables are the only cables which are capable of receiving the HD information and sending it to the television. Unlike RCA cables, there is only one HDMI cable needed to connect either the HD cable receiver or Blu-ray player to the HDTV. The one cable transports both the video and sound information.
1080i or 1080p?
When it comes down to 1080i or 1080p, there really isn't that much difference in viewing quality. Both showcase the image in full high definition and because of the frame rate you won't be able to see the flicker of the interlace or progressive imaging. Besides, most cable providers will only have one or the other, so if your present cable company has 1080i, there really is no need to switch to a different company just because they offer 1080p.
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