All About HDTV and HDTV Programming

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Standards have changed. Years ago, people marveled at the radio broadcasts that were transmitted into their homes. As televisions became popular, everyone was satisfied with the fuzzy black-and-white pictures on their screens. Then most people rejected their old sets once color TVs came onto the market. And now, just when you thought that televisions couldn’t get any better, HDTV comes along and changes everyone’s standards once again. Gone are the days when you could be happy with washed-out colors and a low resolution. Now you want a clearer picture and sharper colors, and you want it all for an affordable price.

HDTV is the newest advance in television technology. A standard television gives you a clear color picture. HDTV gives you an even sharper picture, with deeper color saturation and a high level of contrast. Picture it this way – watching a standard TV is like viewing the world through a dirty windowpane. With HDTV, there is no window. The images on the television screen are as close to lifelike as you can get – that is, without actually getting off the couch and watching real-life images. An HDTV can accomplish this feat with its high resolution; a million pixels, often more, combine to create a brilliant picture that will wow any viewer.

But technology always comes at a price. You will pay more for an HDTV set. Fortunately, prices are falling every year. Five years ago, most people were priced out of the HDTV market. Today, an HDTV is the affordable luxury on everyone’s wish list.

Unfortunately, technology is never easy. Owning an HDTV does not guarantee you the whole high-definition experience. First, you will need a high-definition cable or satellite box. This sends the HD channels to your television; without one, you can only watch standard programming. Second, you will need high-def channels. Your cable or satellite provider offers a line-up of HD channels, though the number of available HD channels is nowhere close the number of available standard channels. Third, you will need an HD show or movie. Not all shows broadcast on an HD station are necessarily high-definition; news programs are often broadcast in standard-definition, as are most daytime programs. If you are watching a standard-def show, you may see a black bar on either side of the screen. Also, since you are watching a standard-def show on a high-def screen, the picture will not be nearly as clear or as sharp as with an HD program. Only when you have all three elements – an HD box, channel and show – can you experience television like never before.

The most popular types of high-definition televisions are the flat-screens, and for good reason. LCD and plasma TVs can fit into the smallest of spaces, a plus in most homes. Many rear-projection TVs are also HD. Often cheaper than LCD and plasma, rear-projection TVs come with incredibly large screens, a good option for a home theater. Some direct-view CRT TVs are also high-definition. It may be big and cumbersome in a small space, but a CRT is a good buy for the cash-strapped shopper.

When you are out shopping for an HDTV, don’t worry about the resolution numbers. All HDTVs have a high enough resolution to please even the most discerning television viewer. Just don’t forget to stock up on your favorite DVDs. Movies have never looked quite as good as when they are played on an HDTV.

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