- A Brief Introduction
What is the Difference?
So what is HDTV anyway?
Certainly since it was introduced to the public several
years ago, we all new that it meant a better picture, but
how does that all come together? First you need to
understand the basics of Standard and Digital Television
signal to appreciate the benefits of High Definition
Television signal. Standard Analog Television is based
on a 480i configuration which means the screen is comprised
of 480 vertical lines. The "i" indicates that the
picture is Interlaced, meaning every other line is drawn on
the screen, reducing the amount of information that needs to
be displayed on the screen at one time. It's a smoke
and mirrors type of trick that reduces the amount of data
that is needed to render an image and cannot be detected by
the naked eye. The other common designation is 480p,
where "p" indicates progressive scan, which means the
vertical lines are drawn on the screen at one time.
This is commonly referred to as Digital Signal and offers
similar quality to that of a DVD.
When DVDs were introduced to
the market, the image quality of these disks were far better
than the standard analog signal we were used to with VHS.
With HDTV, the quality is more than double, making for some
impressive results. High Definition Television Signal
is base on a 720p or 1080i format that far surpasses DVD
quality. The 720p format is a 1280x760 progressive
scan image where as the 1080i format displays an interlaced
image at 1920x1080. The two formats are very effective
at presenting video information in a way that results in a
superior video image over previous formats. The one
thing to keep in mind with HDTV is the benefits of the two
formats are not only reserved for improved video quality.
The signal is capable of carrying more audio information,
including multiple tracks, offering Dolby digital surround
sound quality. Another benefit is the additional
information that can be sent through the video signal.
Since HDTV is a digital signal, multiple signals can be
encoded and sent at the same time. These secondary
channels give television programmers the ability to send
additional data such as programming data, news and weather
while regular programming is being displayed on the screen.
Perhaps a more in depth
approach to HDTV is warranted, but the goal here is to give
a basic concept to help the reader understand why HDTV
offers higher video quality than any other video format
currently available. Now imagine having this
capability on a personal computer, where monitors typically
run at the low end of HDTV resolution by default, and some
of which can go much higher. The end results should be
amazing. Next we'll demonstrate the visual differences
between Analog and High Definition signals with some
comparison shots provided by ATi and their HDTV Wonder.
Analog Vs. Digital Signal
demonstrate the improved video quality the HDTV Wonder offer
over conventional TV cards, we've acquired a few sample
screen captures from ATi. Below are a couple of
examples of the both analog and high definition television
signals. In each image we super imposed a close up
from that image to help show the quality of each format.
Notice on the analog picture the image is not terribly
sharp. This is accentuated in the close up where the
details of the player's face are down right blurry and
blocky. When we move to the High definition version,
you can see the aspect of the image has changed to a wider
format and the picture is tack sharp. Naturally you'll
need to take into account image compression with our screen
shots, but we tried to keep it minimal to give a good
representation of the image quality. When we zoom into
the details of the player's face this time, the image
remained quite clear, with the image rendering in much
Images for a Larger View
High Definition Signal
High Definition Signal
With the lower
images we see more of a difference in image quality.
This time we focus on an image with distance and the clarity
is even more evident. In fact, if you look closely to
the analog version of the football field, you can detect the
lines in the screen from the interlacing of the image.
This is most noticeable with the close up of the
quarterback. When we move our focus to the high
definition format, the image has a much greater "pop" on the
screen with sharp lines and a much more detailed overall
image. All of the lines on the field smoothed out with
razor sharp detail and when we look at the close up, all the
noise around the players is significantly reduced.
By the way, for
those of you who are fans of Donald Trump's 'The
Apprentice', you might have noticed the 30" LCD TV in his
office. As it turns out, the unit is not only a LCD
screen, it's a
PC, and ATi is working with them to include the HDTV
Wonder into future models.
From the little
taste we've gotten from ATi of the HDTV Wonder, we must
admit we are anxious to get our hands on this one.
Once again, as with the evolution of the All-In-Wonder line,
ATi is positioning impressive product. Initially we
should expect to see the HDTV Wonder bundled with
All-In-Wonder 9600, 9600XT and 9800 Pros and will later be
offered with Radeon video cards. Eventually this may
become a stand alone product, but ATi is looking to ensure
compatibility at this point in time. Naturally it
makes sense to marry the HDTV Wonder with an All-In-Wonder,
making for an excellent multimedia combination, unlocking
MultiView capabilities and PiP. More so, the
combination allows users to take advantage of the
All-In-Wonder's component output feature to send the signal
to HDTV capable TVs. Users can expect to see these
bundles in Spring/Summer '04, which will retail for about
$100 over the current All-In-Wonder prices. When you
factor in that $100 will get you some of the capabilities of
set top subscription services, without the monthly fee,
that's an attractive price point, making it significantly
easier to justify to your non-high-def aware significant
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