HDTV merchants have two important jobs: to bring you the best technology available, and to help you understand exactly what it is. One way to help you understand new technology is to come up with a simple, descriptive name for it. But sometimes the names are a little too simple, sometimes they aren’t
descriptive enough, and sometimes they are downright misleading.
Here are seven common HDTV terms that can be misleading or unclear:
Ready for what? “HD-ready” means the same thing as “HD monitor”. It is an HDTV without a built-in tuner, so an external ATSC tuner, or a cable box, will be needed to receive broadcasts. If you only intend to use your HDTV for gaming or DVD watching, it might be better to save a few hundred dollars with an HD-ready TV.
Native 720p/1080i Display
Most HDTV displays have either 768 or 1080 rows of pixels, and a few have 900. And all HDTVs have an
inherently progressive display, so the most common native resolutions are 768p, 900p, and 1080p. So, when a manufacturer or merchant claims that an HDTV is “native 720p/1080i”, it usually means that those are the highest resolutions it can handle, and the input is scaled and de-interlaced to fit a 768p display. Some DLP HDTVs, however, do have a native 720p display.
There’s no such thing as a dedicated HDTV antenna. Over-the-air HDTV broadcasts use the UHF spectrum, just like public access TV. So, any UHF antenna will work.
This refers to a 1080p display with a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and the ability to display 24, 30 or 60 full frames per second. The term is not wrong, but it implies that 720p or 1080i content is somehow incomplete. Since neary all HD content these days is still 720p or 1080i, that would be pretty
depressing for HDTV owners.
Sets labeled “HD1080” have 1080 rows of pixels and a progressive display, so they can properly be called 1080p. But they only have 1024 or 1280 pixels in each row, so they don’t display the maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080. A 1080i or 1080p signal would be downscaled in the horizontal direction, changing a picture with a lot of square pixels into one with a smaller amount of rectangular ones. This doesn’t alter the basic appearance of video content, but does cause problems when using the HDTV as a computer monitor.
Motionflow, Auto Motion Plus, ClearFrame, Clear Motion Drive
These are all trade names for the new 120Hz high frame rate display technology. HDTV sets with this feature will generally display motion smoother because they can show 120 distinct images per second instead of the typical 60.
1080p Upconverting DVD Player
Many DVD players claim to upconvert content to 1080p, as opposed to 1080i. This is unnecessary, since all HDTVs have progressive displays, and there’s no visible difference between content upconverted to 1080i and content upconverted to 1080p. The transfer from “i” to “p” is called de-interlacing, and this task is performed by the TV anyway. The only benefit would come if it’s a low quality HDTV (with a poor de-interlacer) and a high quality DVD player with a good de-interlacer.