High definition gear to get you started

The equipment you need to tune into the HD Games

This year there will be four different ways that you can watch the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Since most of us won’t be able to fly over there and attend personally, that makes three ways.

The first is the same way we’ve been watching it since the 1960s: analog TV. Fortunately we now have digital TV, which offers several distinct advantages.

The digital advantage

The first is that the picture quality is more reliable than analog. If you have your digital TV aerial set up properly, you will get absolutely perfect reception. Analog TV, by contrast, can be affected by static in the picture, and ghosting. Even the best reception can receive interference from an electrical appliance somewhere in your home.

Second, even if you have the best possible analog TV picture, digital is even better. The reasons are technical and concern how the colour is presented. Basically, with analog TV the colour and the brightness interfere with each other, producing unwanted patterns and noise. This does not happen with digital TV.

Third, digital TV gives you widescreen – the picture is roughly 1.78 times wider than it is tall, compared to analog TV’s 1.33. As we suggested in the last chapter, widescreen TV gives you a better sense of what’s going on, and this is especially useful for sports. After all, in real life we spend far more time looking left and right than we do up and down.

Finally, this year digital TV gives us the Olympic Games in high definition. You get five times the detail from HDTV as you do from standard definition TV (SDTV). It’s like those old black-and-white movies where they put Vaseline on the camera lens to soften the picture for the female lead. HDTV scrubs off the Vaseline and lets you see all the detail that you ought to see in the picture.

Let us look now at what you need for a great picture.