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Your high definition TV options explained

When it comes to picture quality, shoppers have a widening choice when buying modern LED TVs. Should you opt for HD Ready, Full HD or the very latest 4K Ultra HD televisions? It all seems a little complicated, but we hope this article helps to give you a clearer picture – excuse the pun.

A high definition TV (HDTV) is simply a television with a higher resolution or frame size than standard TV. Standard TV is known as 480p or 480i and began to be superseded by HDTV in 1998 with the onset of digital televisions. Since then HDTV has been growing and with that growth there has been significant progress in the quality and versions of HDTV available.

The difference between 720p, 1080i and 1080p

The resolution of a TV is measured in lines of pixels with a pixel being a single dot on the screen that makes up the image. More lines means more pixels leading to a greater resolution and improved picture.

If you are looking for the best possible picture then you should choose a TV that gives you the most pixels right? Well yes, but it’s not quite that simple. There are also different scanning methods which can affect the quality. 1080i means the scanning is interlaced whereas 1080p means it is progressive. Without getting into the technical detail it is accepted that progressive scanning gives the best quality and most stable picture.

Most broadcasters use interlaced transmissions but your 1080p TV will convert the picture to progressive. To receive content in Full HD 1080p you will need to look to Internet streaming content such as Netflix, Amazon or iTunes. With increased broadband bandwidth many of us are now enjoying TV entertainment from these online sources. Also Blu-ray DVD players and gaming consoles can deliver 1080p content so it’s well worth investing a little extra for the benefit.

4K Ultra HD

Just as we are getting our heads round HD Ready and Full HD we now have a new kid on the block in the form of 4K Ultra HD. This means the image has four times more information than Full HD 1080p. The image resolution is 3,840 x 2,160 (8.3-megapixels). That’s up from 2.1-megapixels in 1,920 x 1,080 and represents a significant jump in quality.

In terms of content no one is broadcasting in 4K yet, but trials are taking place and it isn’t far off. The Internet streamers are leading the way with Netflix and Amazon Prime offering 4K content. Also, you can watch 4K movies on a 4K Blu-ray DVD player and from what we have seen it’s well worth the investment.

The Table below explains the various options.

Terms Resolution      Pixel Dimensions Lines
Standard TV – SDTV 480i 640 x 480 480
Enhanced Definition TV – EDTV 480p 852 x 480 480
HD Ready 720p 1,280 x 720 720
Full HD 1080i 1,920 x 1080 or 1,440 x 1,080 1080
Full HD 1080p 1,920 x 1,080 1080
4K Ultra HD 2160p 3,840 x 2,160 2160