Gearing up for high definition

So how do you get high definition anyway?

For the full high definition experience you will need some equipment. We can best divide this into three areas:

  • The sound and vision: What you see and hear
  • The source: Where HD sound and vision comes from in the first place
  • The link: What joins them all together.

The sound and vision

We start with the display with which you watch your HD program, and the speakers through which you hear its sounds.

You will need a high definition display of some kind. Later we will give full details on the various alternatives, but for the moment your choice comes down to an LCD or plasma TV, a rear projection TV (RPTV) or a front projector.

The biggest picture you will get is from a front projector. Virtually all of them will deliver picture sizes from 60 to 120 inches (152 to 305 cm). Using one of these really is like going to the cinema, including dimming the lights. In fact, dimming the lights is essential for them to deliver their fine picture quality, so many people who use a projector also use a smaller LCD or plasma TV for convenience in watching the news, for example, during the daylight hours.

Both LCD and plasma TVs have models suitable for high definition work, some of them quite large. Remember, the larger the picture, the more benefit you will derive from high definition images. Equally important is the resolution of the display. You will need a display offering a vertical resolution of at least 720 pixels to obtain any benefit from HDTV. The best HD displays offer the full high definition resolution of 1920 pixels across by 1080 pixels tall.

Don’t underrate sound. You will need at least five loudspeakers plus a subwoofer to enjoy all that HD has to offer. There is a huge range of these on offer, in all kinds of sizes, but this ‘5.1’ configuration is essential.