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HDTV Features To Look For

HDTV sets come with different features and input/ output options depending on brand and model. The most common features that viewers may look for in new HDTV sets are picture-in-picture (PIP), built-in tuner, audio system and ability to connect to different signal sources. Higher end models can contain a myriad of other features but you should be careful in getting features that you may not really need. This article will help you understand what those features and connectivity options are and find out just what you need for a new HDTV set.

Full HD (1080p) Resolution

A “Full HD” or “1080p” television set is one that is capable of displaying up to 1,920 vertical pixels by 1,080 horizontal pixels on the screen. This capability offers a lot better picture clarity and detail compared to older standard definition or SD television. In between Full HD and SD are 720p rated TV sets more commonly termed as enhanced HD or EDTV. The “p” in 1080p means the video images are composed of progressively displayed picture frames. There are also TV sets rated as 1080i, wherein video images are composed of interlaced picture frames. When buying a new TV set, better choose one capable of Full HD 1080p for best picture quality and to future-proof your investment.

LED Backlighting and 120Hz Technology for LCD Displays

If your HDTV choice is LCD, better look for one with LED backlighting feature, in which the older fluorescent backlighting method is replaced by LED. This technique results to high brightness, darker blacks and more vivid colors. When looking at black pictures on a LCD TV without LED backlighting, they may look grayish for there’s always a light on behind the LCD panel. Another improvement to LCD displays is the 120Hz motion technology that helps reduce motion blur especially in fast-moving video images. This technique essentially doubles the speed at which frames are displayed, from 60 frames per second to 120 frames per second, resulting to blur-free moving images. Some LCD TVs now even offer 240Hz capability, which quadruples the 60 frames per second video images.

Picture-in-picture (PIP)

PIP is a basic feature for almost all new HDTV models. It allows you to see another program in a little window while watching a program on the screen. Most TV models provide controls to resize the PIP window, move it anywhere on the screen, or even divide the screen to display two different programs. The programs can be any combination of signals from different sources such as cable, satellite, terrestrial TV, Blu-ray players or gaming consoles.

TV Audio System

Almost all new HDTV sets today are capable of stereo reception and equipped with stereo left/ right speakers. Bigger units have sub-woofer options and audio systems that output pseudo-surround sound. To get true surround-sound experience, you should consider buying an external 5.1 or 7.1 home-theater audio system. New HDTV sets and Blu-ray players have either multiple audio outputs or multiplexed surround-sound outputs. You should first check these options before you buy a compatible home-theater audio system.

Built-in Tuner

When there was only analog broadcast available, all TV sets are equipped with analog TV tuners: NTSC in the US, PAL-SECAM in Europe and Australia, and either of the two analog standards in other countries. Now, we will have both analog and digital signals available until such time when analog is shut down. All older TV sets are equipped with analog tuners and will need external digital TV decoder or set top box to receive digital TV signal. Most new HDTV sets are not equipped anymore with analog tuners and may have digital tuners built-in depending on your country’s digital TV implementation.

Inputs and Outputs?

* Composite Video – this is a type of video connection that employs a single coaxial cable with RCA-type plugs at both ends. This is usually the yellow cable in A/V cables with the red and black cables for left/ right audio. The video signal is called composite because all the luminance (black and white), chrominance (color) and sync signals are combined in one composite signal. This type of video connection has the poorest picture quality because of possible interference between the luminance, chrominance and sync signals.

* S-Video or Super Video is a type of video connection developed to improve the picture quality from that of composite video. In this type, chrominance information is separated from the combined luminance and sync information. S-video utilizes two coaxial cables for these two sets of information. Miniature 4-pin mini DIN-type plugs or two RCA-type plugs are used for the cable connectors. S-Video is also called Y/C connection, that is, Y is for luminance and C is for chroma.

* Component Video – this type of connection further improves the picture quality available from S-Video. The luminance and sync information (Y) are combined and run in one coaxial cable while the chrominance information is further separated into blue minus luminance (Pb) and red minus luminance (Pr). These color component signals are run in two separate coaxial cables that brings the total number coaxial cables to three. The connectors at both ends of the cables can be RCA-type or BNC-type. Component video is also called YPbPr connection.

* VGA or Video Graphics Array is used in connecting a computer to a monitor. Some TV models have this input added because of the increasing number of broadcast quality content from the web. Viewers also find it practical to use just one monitor for their PC and their TV viewing. The cable used is multi-conductor with 15-pin D-sub connectors at both ends.

* DVI or Digital Visual Interface is the digital version of VGA and is also used in connecting a computer to a monitor. This type of connection inputs uncompressed video signals from the source to the display device. A DVI cable is made up of four twisted pairs of wire – red, green, blue, and clock, and transmits 24 bits of information per pixel. There is no compression used so there is no loss of picture quality from the source to the monitor.

* HDMI or High Definition Multimedia Interface further improves DVI by transmitting up to eight channels of digital audio and consumer electronics control signals in the same cable. HDMI video signal is electrically compatible with DVI signal. This means you can interconnect sources and display devices with either HDMI or DVI connectors using the proper cable adapters. It should be noted however, that the digital audio and control signals will not be transmitted.

Internet Connectivity

Many new HDTV sets now have Ethernet ports or have built-in Wi-Fi for high-speed Internet connection. The viewer uses the remote to select widgets or graphical icons on the screen, which corresponds to customized content such as YouTube videos, Flickr photos, news, traffic, weather, and stock information, usually delivered thru RSS. There is also a partnership between Netflix and a number TV companies, such as LG and Sony, providing viewers access to tens of thousands of movies on-demand.

USB and Memory Cards Ports

Another important feature of new HDTV sets is the availability of USB ports for connection of flash thumb-drivess or external hard drives for direct playback of videos, photos or music. Other newer models also have SD or Memory Stick card slots that lets viewers insert compatible memory cards and view stored photos or videos on the HDTV screen.

The discussion in this article on the basic HDTV features and input/output options can guide you in selecting the right display for your particular requirement. Select a display with only the features you need so your investment will not be wasted in things that you don’t really need. You can instead allot your extra budget to purchase other peripherals like an external DVR (digital video recorder) or a surround audio system.