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Volume 10, Number 24
13 April 2004

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Technology Corner: HDTV: Outstanding Picture Quality

Very few things have changed in the TV arena, in terms of quality, since the inauguration of the color TV. Improvements in the picture image and recently the addition of stereo sound and transmissions over digital broadcasts were significant changes that occurred in the last two decades. But there is a technology that many of you are probably familiar with from consumer electronics news that will revolutionize the quality of TVs. This technology is called HDTV or High Definition Television. This technology was actually initiated analogically in the 70ís but it gained momentum in the late 90ís, especially with the spread of digital broadcasts.
The main difference between a high definition television broadcasting and a standard television broadcast is that HDTV contains a much higher resolution than standard broadcasts. More specifically, a standard TV broadcast has 720*576 whereas HD resolution is up to 1920*1080. Another important advantage of HD over standard TV is that HD has better color saturation, making the colors of the image better looking. HDTV has actually two standards: 1080 and 720. Both of them are called HD resolutions but the first one is 1920*1080 which delivers a sharper picture whereas the second one is only 1280*720. Another new technology that enhances quality is progressive scan. Normally only half of the horizontal lines or pixels are shown in a very short time period, then the other half is shown and the flow of these lines makes the motion. In progressive scan, all the pixels or lines are shown together, improving the image.
For now, only a few countries such as Japan, the USA, South Korea (generally NTSC countries) are lucky to receive HD broadcasts. There is only one test channel in Europe that broadcasts in HD. That is why most of the TV sets in Europe and Turkey are not capable of receiving HD signals. Hopefully some new discs (see Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD) are coming and will allow us to buy HD compatible sets.

Eren Tezmen (MAN/III)

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