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What are the features of HDTV?

HDTV has often been referred to as being as revolutionary as color television. It offers a completely new way to view TV which excedes the picture quality of regular satellite and digital cable signals, or even movies on DVD.

Image quality is obviously HDTV's biggest selling point. Resolutions come in two flavors: 720p and 1080i. 720P offers fewer lines of resolution, but the progressive format scans the image from top to bottom similar to the way film is projected. In addition, this progressive format offers double the frame rate of interlaced video. This makes for a smoother image with less flicker. 1080i offers more lines or resolution, but the interlaced format scans the image twice: once for the odd numbered lines and once for the even lines. This can create more image flicker and may not create as smooth an image in shots with a lot of action in them. Each format works for different situations, so expect to see both used by the various broadcasters. Currently, ABC, Fox and ESPN use 720p, while many other networks use 1080i.

Another feature of HDTV is the wider screen format. It is closer to the aspect ratio of a movie screen. This means you can watch wide screen movies without the large black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. Of course, movies with very wide aspect ratios will still show small black bars on the top and bottom since they are wider than even a widescreen TV. In addition, so-called "Full Screen" DVDs will have black bars on the sides. So, if you plan to buy a widescreen TV, you may want to switch to the widescreen DVDs instead of full screen for best compatability.

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