High-Definition TVs Explained

High-Definition TVs Explained

High-Definition TVs Explained

So, you’re in the market for a new TV? We’ve got your back. Here’s what you need to know about high-definition TVs explained.

HDTV Definition

First things first. HDTV stands for high-definition television, and the high-definition part refers to the resolution of the TV. You’ll also recognise this term as it relates to your computer screen or in fact any other display device.


The march of technology has meant more pixels on a screen than what we had before. Pixels are the tiny dots that make up the overall picture and simply change colour at impossibly fast rates to display moving images for us to enjoy.

What is Screen Resolution?

Screen resolution, also known as display modes, defines the number of pixels that the screen can display. For instance, you may see it referred to as 1024 x 720 which represents the number of pixels wide and high, respectively. This term can be broken down further, but all you need to know is that the more pixels a screen can display, the better-quality picture you’ll enjoy.

What is The Bitrate for High-Definition TV (HDTV)?

Wait a second, what does bitrate mean? As it relates to your new television set, bitrate refers to the number of bits (parcels of information) that your device can process per second.

So, your bitrate is how fast your TV can process the information, and the screen resolution determines how this data is displayed. To further add to the confusion, televisions are advertised as, for example, 720p or 1080i. What are these letters all about?

Progressive Scan

The p stands for progressive scan. This means that as your device receives data it will display a pixel at a time scanning from left to right, much the same as you are reading the words on this page, and it will do this 1080 times. This option will draw all the vertical lines in a single frame of video sequentially that allows each frame to contain a complete image that will fill your screen.

Interlaced Scan

In contrast, the i refers to an interlaced scan, where every vertical odd line of the image is displayed in one frame, then these are turned off, and then the even lines display. This happens several times a second and tricks our brains into seeing a solid, moving image while reducing the bandwidth required.

High-Definition Resolution

The most basic HDTV offers a screen resolution of 720p which will be the most affordable option in the HD range. Televisions referred to as full-HD will have a 1080p resolution.

Stepping up from here are the real HD heroes, those being 4K, also known as ultra-high-definition TV. These boast screen resolutions of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels and essentially have a resolution 4x that of a full-HD TV. If you really want to go big, then you quadruple the pixels again and you end up with the best television on the market with a resolution of 7,680 x 4,320.

Increased Refresh Rate

The refresh rate of your TV is the number of times the device changes the image or frame on the screen. Most televisions have a 60Hz refresh rate, which tells us that this TV will refresh the image 60 times per second. The higher the refresh rate, the more times the TV is refreshing its pixels per second.

For the most part, HDTVs offer either 60 or 120Hz as standard. The problem, however, is that the TV can only refresh the data it receives which makes a 120Hz screen receiving a 60Hz signal a little pointless. Having said that, more channels are offering programming in 120Hz so it’s good to have the option to switch it up when the time comes.

What Is HDTV Broadcasting?

Interestingly, the term HD refers to both the TV set that receives the data as well as the quality of the signal being broadcast.

HDTV is the digital broadcasting standard for most television channels now, an upgrade from SDTV, or standard-definition TV. HDTV broadcasts are sent via cable or satellite over ultra-high frequency airwaves.

In an ideal world, you would want to receive high-definition signals to your HDTV for the crispest, clearest picture. However, some channels choose to broadcast in 720p which is slower than 1080i but offers a better quality output for fast-moving images such as you’d find in sporting events.

How Does High-Definition TV Work?

The basic workings of television haven’t changed much over the years, it’s really just the available technology that has enhanced the visual appeal. The advent of digital tech has granted us better signals, less interference, and more channels than older analogue systems offered.

More pixels mean a better picture quality, and while the older SDTVs typically only had 640 columns and 480 rows that were displayed in an interlaced scan, today’s FHD TVs contain roughly 2 million pixels (2 megapixels) and use progressive scanning.

The ability of HDTVs to fit more pixels into the same space is the equivalent of drawing a picture with a fine liner versus a wax crayon. More details, finer lines, and crisper imagery.

What Is the Difference Between HD-Ready and HDTV?

What does HD Ready mean? An HD-ready TV is the same as the entry-level HD televisions that we mentioned earlier. They offer a resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels and are not as good as a full HDTV.

“The “HD ready” logo is awarded to television equipment capable of displaying High Definition (HD) pictures from an external source. However, it does not have to feature a digital tuner to decode an HD signal; devices with tuners were certified under a separate “HD TV” logo, which does not require an “HD ready” display device.” (Source)

Is High-Definition TV Worth It?

With all this necessary technical information under our belts, we need to know if it really matters whether we choose HD or not.

The answer to this question lies squarely on your shoulders. If you spend a lot of time watching sport or movies, then it’s worth investing in a television that can handle the HD signals available and give you an excellent viewing experience.

For those of us who love to entertain and have a huge screen up in the living room so that we can all watch the rugby together, an HDTV is the way to go.

Newer TVs include additional features that you will find useful as you slowly upgrade your entire entertainment system.

Additional HDMI Ports

Most of the TVs available today are Smart TVs. In this case, the additional HDMI ports on the HDTV allow you to connect up gaming consoles, laptops, and other devices. Indeed, a TV is no longer just a TV, rather it’s a multipurpose entertainment centre, so the more available connections the better.

Aspect Ratio

HDTVs offer a wider screen view with a 16:9 screen format. This means that, as opposed to the older sets with a 4:3 format, you no longer have to endure the picture cutting off at the edges.

Slimline Design

HDTVs are crafted from light-weight materials with thin frames which makes them easy to mount on the wall. That makes those enormous TV stands a thing of the past leaving you more space in your living room.

 How Do You Know If You Have an HDTV?

With all the terminology and jargon, how do you know whether or not you have an HDTV?

If you take a look at the back or side of the TV. Examine the input panel you should see the following options:

  • HDMI
  • DVI
  • VGA

Image source Wikihow

The HDMI cable supports HD quality images and efficiently carries your audio and video input. If you have multiple connectors offering “S” video or composite video and stereo audio only, then your device can only support standard input.

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We hope that we’ve answered all your questions about high-definition TVs, and you have a clear way forward to replace your tired telly.

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