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What is HDTV?
High-Definition TV and video will be the biggest revolution in picture quality since the transition from black & white to colour TV. High-definition content is bigger, better and sharper than the standard TV signals currently found on analogue or digital TV services. In simple terms, HDTV offers up to four times the detail found in its standard equivalent.

Standard definition TV in the UK (PAL) is broadcast in 576 interlaced lines of pixels (576i), meaning that you only ever see 288 odd lines followed by 288 even lines, and so on. HDTV will initially be broadcast in either 1080 interlaced lines of pixels (1080i) - meaning that you will see 540 odd lines followed by 540 even lines, almost double the number of lines found in standard broadcasts - or 720 progressive lines of pixels (720p), meaning that you will see all 720 lines of pixels at all times, almost triple the number of lines found in standard broadcasts.

Most broadcast companies, including Sky in the UK, will support both 1080i and 720p, giving programme makers the choice of which format they want to use. There is a further high-definition format that will display 1080 lines progressively (1080p), but this hasn’t yet been adopted by broadcasters and isn’t included in the HD ready requirements.

What will be broadcast in HDTV?
Many broadcasters including Sky, the BBC and a number of US companies are already filming programmes in high-definition format, as are many of the film studios. Europe’s first HDTV service – Euro 1080 – launched on the first of January 2004 on pay-TV satellite. Sky launched a high-definition service in May 2006. This will include a mix of movies, entertainment, documentaries and sport programming, with live Premiership football expected to be broadcast in high-definition format from launch. To receive the service, customers will need to buy a new HD-capable set-top box from Sky and a subscription to the service.

The BBC have also launched a HDTV trial service in May 2006, which is planned to run for around 12 months, currently this is a single channel showing demonstration material and is expected to carry some of the World Cup and Wimbledon games. To receive this service you will require the purchase of an HD capable satellite set top box. The service is currently subscription free.

Other forms of High-Definition content?
In addition to HDTV services from broadcasters, the next generation of DVDs and games consoles will also be capable of generating high-definition video content.

Similar to the debate surrounding Betamax and VHS at the dawn of video recorders, there are currently two competing formats being developed to support high-definition movies and other video materials - HD DVD and Blu-Ray. Manufacturers and film studios are evenly split in their support of the two formats and it looks likely that both formats will make it to market in the short term. Both discs can store much more information than current DVD- 3 times for HD DVD and 5 times for Blu-Ray and will support high-definition content up to 1080p. Although HD DVDs and Blu-Ray disks are very similar in size to current DVDs, both HD DVD and Blu-Ray discs will not be supported by current DVD players and will require the purchase of new, dedicated players.

Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony provide support for standard definition formats (480i/576i), the same as current DVDs, on their current generation games consoles. Microsoft and Sony have since announced that their next generation consoles – Xbox360 and PlayStation 3– will support high-definition games and potentially movies. Both manufacturers have mandated that all games developed for their consoles are required to run in 720p or 1080i high-definition and in 16x9 widescreen. These titles will still work on standard definition TVs, of course, but they will be optimised for HD sets. Sony is also committed to supporting 1080p sources on the PlayStation 3.

Both consoles look set to include one of the two forms of digital connections, with Sony committing to HDMI and Microsoft soon to announce its choice.

Both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 will continue to play standard DVD movies, as their predecessors do. However the PlayStation3 is also listed as also being able to play Blu-Ray high definition disks from launch. Microsoft has announced that it is considering adding HD DVD support to future Xbox360 models, although it won’t be supported at launch.

The HD Ready logo
In order to enjoy future high definition programming and movies you must have a HD Ready TV. Being HD Ready means that a TV or display complies to a series of specifications laid down by EICTA, the European AV industry body, which ensure that it is capable of both properly displaying the extra detail contained in HDTV signals but also has the connections necessary to accept HDTV signals.

A display device has to cover the following requirements to be awarded the label “HD ready”:

• Display or display engine
  The minimum native resolution of the display (e.g. LCD, PDP) or display engine (e.g. DLP) is   720 physical lines in wide aspect ratio. This means that the standard VGA displays, as found   on a number of 42inch plasma screens, at 852 by 480 lines, are not capable of displaying the   full 720 lines demanded by HDTV.

• Video Interfaces/connections
  The display device must accept an HD input via Analogue YPbPr (component video), and   either DVI or HDMI inputs. These inputs must accept both the following HD video formats –

1280x720 @ 50 and 60Hz progressive (“720p”)
1920x1080 @ 50 and 60Hz interlaced (“1080i”)

The DVI or HDMI input must support content protection, specifically High bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP).

What is HDCP?
HDCP stands for High bandwidth Digital Content Protection and is a copy protection scheme designed to eliminate the possibility of capturing and copying content sent digitally from the source to the display. HDCP enables a secure connection between devices such as DVD players or set-top boxes and HDTV set-top-boxes using an authentication and key exchange procedure before video and audio is presented.

The majority of current DVD players with HDMI or DVI connections already support HDCP over their digital connections, so it is important to ensure that the corresponding digital connection on your display will also support HDCP. Otherwise you will not be able to benefit from the digital connections on your DVD player - only component, s-video, scart or composite connections. As analogue connections, they won’t support or require HDCP.

HDCP will not affect your ability to enjoy HDTV if the source connection is component video. Sky has committed to fitting component video connections on its forthcoming HD set-top box. However, there is significant interest among content owners on restricting HD content to HDCP compliant sources and displays to protect their rights, so it is unclear how long non-HDCP, component video will remain as a viable connection for high-definition content. For example, Toshiba has already announced that its forthcoming high-definition DVD players will only be equipped with HDCP-based digital connections.

Fujitsu screens and the HD Ready Logo
All current 40, 51 and 58 series Fujitsu screens, except for the P42VHA40 and P42VHA51ES, comply fully with the HD Ready guidelines set down by EICTA. In addition, many previous generation Fujitsu screens are also capable of displaying High Definition material via the high quality component inputs and possibly via the digital connections where fitted, however picture resolution will be limited by the screens pixel count and the digital connections cannot be guaranteed to work due to the HD ready spec coming out after the screens were made. Customers are advised to always check compatibility.

       
      
      

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