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Playstation 3 HDTV Guide

If you still own an 'old fashioned' television, then buying a Sony PS3 game console may be just the right time to think about getting a new one.

In the last few years TV's have got wider and thinner, but have they got better ? The latest trend is HDTV (High Definition Television), promising stunning picture quality, but at a price.

Take a look online, or in the electrical stores and you will see a huge choice of High Def sets available. Words like plasma, rear projection and LCD are everywhere, and that is before you have chosen from a variety of screen sizes, shapes and manufacturers. It's enough to make you stick with your old TV !

We have prepared an easy to understand guide to the world of High Definition TV, so that you can decide for yourself if it's time to upgrade.

HDTV Guide ps2 controller black up close ps2 controller black up close

What is HDTV ?

Basically it's all about dots !

Ever noticed how small text on your computer monitor looks really sharp, but on the TV it looks blurred ?

Your TV and monitor picture is made up of dots of colour. Putting it simply, the dots on the TV are bigger than those on the monitor, so the picture on the monitor looks sharper and can hold more detail.

Most monitors these days are running at 1024 x 768, which means that the whole screen is made from 768 horizontal lines and each line has 1024 dots of colour in it.

Traditional TV's by comparison are about 576 x 400 (400 lines each with 576 dots of colour), which is why images look much sharper on your monitor.

Let's take a quick look at the numbers...

Regular TV resolution:

576 x 400 = 230,400 color dots on the screen

True HDTV resolution:

1920 x 1080 = 2,073,600 color dots on the screen

The higher the number, the smaller the dots, the sharper and more detailed the pictures will look.

That is why HDTV pictures look great.

1080p or 1080i ?

You must have made a 'flicker book' as a kid ? You draw a stick man on the corner of each page of a book. Every page has a slightly different image and when you flick through them quickly, it makes the stick man look animated.

The human eye only sees at about 18 frames per second, so if you flick through 18 pages every second, your eye sees it as smooth movement.

If you were to draw only the top half of the stick man on the first page, and the bottom half of the stick man on the next page and then the top half on the next page and keep repeating this process, when it comes to flicking through the pages, the animation will still look as good as the first example, so long as you flick through the pages twice as fast as before (36 pages per second).

Your TV typically runs at 50-60 frames per second, so this extra speed can be used to do the half-a-picture trick we discussed above. In this case it shows all of the 'odd' numbered lines first (line 1,3,5,7,9...) then flips over to the even lines (line 2,4,6,8...). This is called 'interlaced' and is the 'i' you see in HDTV specifications.

The 'p' stands for 'progressive' and this just means it displays the whole picture at once.

So, a 1080i HDTV has the ability to display the same level of picture quality and detail as a 1080p, it just does it in a different way. Most people can not see any difference in picture quality all.

Why are HDTV Expensive ?

If we compare a regular 'old style' CRT television with a 1920 x 1080 HDTV, assuming they have screens of the same size then we can see two things...

The colour dots that make up the picture need to be 9 times smaller on the HDTV. This makes the actual screens very expensive to make.

There are 9 times more colour dots that the TV needs to handle to make up one single frame of a picture on the screen, and we have already seen that it takes many frames moving very fast to trick the human eye into thinking it is seeing a moving image.

In addition, you are paying for the cost of the research and development of these products.

Just like the PS3 they cost a lot of money to develop, but unlike the Playstation 3 the TV companies can't get some of that money back every time you buy a new game.

This means you have to pay more for each product until these costs are covered, then the prices will come down dramatically. We have already seen this with the lower resolution HDTV's.

ps3 remote control ps3 interference ps3 confused

HDTV Checklist

If you are looking to upgrade your TV, then PLEASE make sure you check for the following...

Make sure it has a sticker saying HD ready on it and has at least one HDMI slot on the back.

To confuse you, many of the TV manufacturers just list one of the picture resolution numbers, but ALWAYS find out both of them, as this gives you a true idea of the quality of TV you are buying.

If you want to future-proof your TV then go for a resolution of 1920 x 1080.

Cheapest HDTV

The cheapest way to get High Definition gaming on your Sony PlayStation 3 is not to buy a TV at all... but use a computer monitor.

Even an expensive monitor is a fraction of the cost of a high quality HDTV and it has the additional benefit that other members of the family wont want to watch normal TV on it while you are gaming.

Joytech (among other companies) are working on a lead that will convert the PS3 output to VGA. More news on this soon.

Your Views on HDTV

What do you think about HDTV, does the hype match the actual performance ?

Please let other readers know about your experiences, to help them make the best possible choice when it comes to upgrading their TV.

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