Going Dotty Over HD

Remember VHS? Those little plastic boxes of magnetic tape that recorded all your favourite shows? While they were the bomb a decade or two ago, I sincerely doubt that if you dusted off the old VCR and re-watched a favourite old movie that you would be blown away by the grainy, static laced picture and dodgy sound. Face it, VHS has gone the way of Enron and there’s no coming back. VHS quality simply does not compare to the DVD we’ve become used to. However, now even the DVD looks set to pale into insignificance. Enter the dragon of high-definition TV. You’ve no doubt heard of it, but what is it? Dots. That’s right, dots. VHS was the equivalent resolution of 330 dots by 576 dots high. DVD bumped this up to 720 by 576, with high-quality surround sound, subtitles and extra features. This was great – until now. Today we’re buying TVs the equivalent in size to nuclear warheads, and what were once invisibly small little dots on our TV screens have became big, fuzzy blobs that annoy us and make us want more, better, brighter. So we get high-definition TV, which can display video at many times the resolution we had before.
The key here is you need HD content, source and television. If even one of them is not high definition, that is ‘HD Ready’ (720 progressive) or ‘Full HD’ (1 080 interlaced or progressive), then you will not get the stupefying resolution you were expecting. So a traditional 480-line movie played on a premium DVD player connected to a top-of-the-line 1 080p HD television will still only give you 480 lines of resolution – the extra detail doesn’t just magically appear. That said the picture may appear a little sharper, and that’s all.

Most HD content today is still at 720p – this includes the pilot HD programming that DStv was running for the Beijing Olympics. Movies on Blu-ray are often 720p. Generally it’s the porn studios (long the pioneers of new technology) that are pushing it up to full HD. Computer gamers are where the full 1080p action is at: Playstation 3, Xbox 360 or gaming PCs with high-end graphics cards…

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