HDTV broadcast pictures come in two formats. The first is 720p (“p” stands for progressive), which is an image comprised of 1280 lines along the horizontal by 720 vertical lines. It shows the whole image in a single frame that is, progressively.
The second is 1080i, which measures 1920 x 1080 lines and is displayed as two fields that are interlaced. You get a bit more detail with 1080i but the interlaced image is not as smooth as a progressively scanned one.
A high-res screen with at least 720 lines will show both formats but only a 1080-line screen will show 1080i footage at its best, i.e. in an un-scaled form.
As far as Sky is concerned it will be down to the programme maker to choose which format to use.
The 1080p format, which is the absolute best form of HD is not used by broadcasters. Movies made in 1080p (e.g. the last three Star Wars films) might appear in Blu-ray and/or HD DVD format. Sony’s PlayStation 3 produces 1080p output.
There are more and more ‘Full HD’ screens (capable of displaying 1080p) appearing. A 1080p screen can de-interlace a 1080i signal or upscale a standard definition one. With very few 1080p sources available, the main benefit of a Full HD screen is its ability to map a source such as Sky TV (1080i) pixel for pixel to the screens resolution (ie 1920 x 1080).
Speaking personally and owning both, the difference between 720p and 1080p on consumer sized tellies is minimal - the encoding makes more differerence than the end format.
My recommendation would be to get a 32-42" HD ready telly (720p in other words) to suit your budget. Try and get dual HDMI if you can, I would say personally that 1 x HDMI plus VGA would be the minimal standard to accept for future flexibility. HDMI is used by HD players, high end graphics cards, PS3 and will become more and more prevalent - it is basically SCART for HD devices carrying video and audio signals.
As to brands, I have two Sharp units which I think are excellent, a 40" Humax 720p which is surprisingly good, and a cheapo 32" which is average. I’m sure others will have their own recommendations. I would also recommend seeing the device you pick showing HD and non-HD format before purchase as picture “quality” can be quite subjective. Where you end up buying will probably not be the high street store you view in but so what?
Wot mojo said. In particular make sure it has enough inputs for what you plan on connecting to it. My now quite old 32 inch Acer is connected to PS3 by HDMI/DVI cable, and I have a PC connected over VGA. There’s also a scattering of lower def cables for older stuff like my DVD, PS2, Sky, ntl, kitchen sink.
No idea what price/value is like out there at moment, but if it doesn’t mean sacrifices then 1080p would be a “nice to have”.
The only other thing I would say is to make sure that your PC will attach OK. I thought I’d be able to use the DVI to connect my PC to my Samsung 20" TV, but it does not like it and makes the screen go pink, so I’m stuck with 15 pin D-sub ATM. I didn’t find this out till the TV arrived (bought through Littlewoods).
Cheers for all the replies, and the links - my head now officially hurts
It’s no wonder there’s “confusion amongst the public over HD”
So, after reading lots, Ideally I’d be looking for
32" LCD (plasma have screen burn and other problems, and I want this to last)
1080p screen (1920x1080 pixels)
1080p input (not all 1080p screens have the 1080p input :sigh: )
at least 1 hdmi input, pref 2, 1 dvi + other legacy inputs (scart etc)
support for frequencies of 60Hz, 50Hz, 24hz (or a multiple of 24)
main reasons for the 1080p in/out is the PS3 support 1080p output and should allow for a little future-proofing.
interesting to read that lcd/plasma screens CANNOT display 1080i due to the way the display works, so all “i” inputs are deinterlaced (and scaled) by internal hardware before display and the internal processing seems to have a bigger impact on picture quality than the screen itself. however you can buy external deinterlacers/scalers so that’s an option for the future should the built-in one turn out to be not up to the job.
Thanks for the help so far… budget might have to increase to £650 ish as that would just about cover the above requirements
1080p on a 32" screen is not really an option, 1: as there is only now a Sharp (I think) model that does it and you will pay a price premium for it when it appears on the market, 2: there is not really any benefit to 1080P on a 32" unless you are sitting on top of the set, there are 37" sets that will do 1080p but from the amount of stuff/posts I read on lcd tv’s the consensus is to go for 40"+ if you want 1080p, only real benifit of 1080 on a smaller screen would be the extras screen size if you connected a pc to it.
I agree, I think you will pay over the odds for 1080 at this size. You say the PS3 chucks out 1080p which is true (it will also kick out 720p), but the games you run on it are usually outputting a lower resolution. OK I only have half a dozen games for mine but the only time it kicks out full res 1080p is in the “desktop” or with a blu-ray movie. At 32" screen size you would need eyes like a falcon to notice any real difference between 720 and 1080.
I am also mindful of how good plasma TVs look when showing TV type content, and their native res is usually lower than 720p. If someone brought out a 1600x1200 15" monitor I bet not many would buy it, as it would look no different or “better” than one showing 1024x768, with the one caveat of larger desktop.
Spend your money on panel quality, warranty and range of inputs would be my advice , rather then chasing a resolution target which is largely meaningless at this screen size.
One last point, unless the TV specifically upscales all inputs (try and find one) then anything less than 1080 will start to look blocky and unsatisfactory at full res. Even with upscaling the results can be disappointing. That’s…everything apart from Blu-Ray and HDDVD really. What would you spend the most time watching?
For the time being most time would be spent watching standard Sky TV, the odd BluRay movie and a few games via the PS3.
I’m shying away from the 1080i mainly due to the input needed to be manipulated before displayed. The 720p screen res is an option, but it would seem a shame to “waste” the PS3’s capability of outputting native 1080p.
In the end I guess it comes down to money… if I can’t afford a “decent” 1080p, then I’ll plumb for a 720p and spend a bit more than the entry level for that format.
I’m happy with the picture of the PS3 output of both blu ray and DVD on my 720p TV.
Not really sure ‘upscaling’ is much of an issue. I use a lot of non-HD sources e.g. PS2 on it, and it appears to use some sort of smoothed resizing. It does not look blocky like a “nearest neighbour” algorithm would produce. If you use a modern TFT in non-native resolution, it looks like that. So while it doesn’t really make it any better than it actually it, it doesn’t look worse either.