Computer Buying
Computer Building
The Webcast
Monthly Broadcast
Why Widescreen?
HDTV Images
What do I need in order to view HDTV programming?

HDTV is fast becoming popular, even among the average viewer as more people see just how good TV can look. The driving force behind many HDTV conversions is, not surprisingly, sports. Many HDTV sets are sold prior to big sporting events, like the Superbowl, each year. Now, you've gotten the HDTV bug and you think you're ready to jump in. But what exactly do you need to get started?

The most obvious first step is to make sure you can even get HDTV service. This can be from your cable or satellite operator or your local stations over the air via an antenna.

Second, you'll need a TV that can display an HDTV image. Televisions come in three HDTV flavors (or combinations of each): 720p, 1080i and the emerging 1080p. The numbers in each format refer to how many vertical lines of resolution a screen can display. The letter "P" indicates progressive scanning (rendering all lines in an image in one scan) while the letter "I" indicates interlaced scanning (scanning the odd and even lines in separate passes). 720p has fewer lines of resolution, but smoother moving video. 1080i offers greater resolution, but less clarity with faster movement. 1080p combines the best of both worlds: smooth motion and excellent vertical resolution, though no TV stations currently use the standard. This will eventually change, so buying a TV that supports this standard will prepare you for the future.

Older and newer less expensive plasma, DLP and LCD screens are usually 720p. Both old and new CRT TVs use 1080i, with many able to also display progressive formats. The newest progressive displays use the 1080p format. Price will probably dictate your purchase since many variables affect image quality besides just resolution. As a result, it's possible you may not notice the difference in quality between formats when other variables come into play. Watch out for TVs labeled "EDTV". These are not HDTV displays. While SD sources like DVDs will look good on them, HD video will not be as crisp.

Another piece of the puzzle involves an HDTV tuner. If you only watch TV via an antenna (which often offers the highest quality HD video) instead of cable or satellite, you may wish to look at TVs with built-in tuners. This will eliminate the need for an external tuner box. If you have cable or satellite, you'll need a special HDTV box to decode the HD signals. Remember, digital cable and HDTV are not the same thing. Even if you have digital cable, you'll need to upgrade to an HD tuner box. The same applies to satellite. The great thing is, many cable and both satellite providers offer HD DVRs so you can record your favorite shows in HDTV. One option for cable customers is built-in cable card technology. This eliminates the need for an external cable box. However, early cable card TVs only support one way communication. This means you'll still need an external box to order Pay Per View and On Demand programming. Models that support 2-way communication will soon replace the one-way models.

The final HDTV element is the right cables. If you have an external HD tuner box, you'll need an HDMI-compliant interface cable to connect it to your TV. You can't use the coax, composite (RCA) or S-Video connections for this. They aren't HD - save those for SD sources like your VCR and DVD player. Component cables can be used for now, but as copyright protection becomes more common, you'll need to use the HDMI connection in order to view full resolution HD video.

©Copyright 2003-2007 Kimberlite Productions
No part of this site may be reproduced or redistributed without written permission.

Some of the tips and advice may void your equipment or service warranty. When in doubt, consult your owners manual and/or seek professional assistance. does not recommend performing any task that may damage your equipment, void your warranty or violate applicable laws. The use of certain software may violate DMCA or other copyright laws. Since laws vary, depending upon your location, check local regulations regarding any activities you choose to engage in.

Apple, Ipod, ITunes, Windows, DirecTV, Dish Network, Dell, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD and other product names are trademarks of their respective owners. Use of those names is for review or demonstation purposes only. No infringement is intended or should be implied. In addition, no endorsement should be inferred. is not responsible for the content of any outside site it may be linked to. In addition, is not responsible for any innaccurate or deceptive claims made by any outside web site. Links from to other sites does not imply our endorsement of those sites.