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VHT Articles Section - High Definition TV

*Please let us know how we can help you with any questions you may have regarding your new home theater setup and/or home automation projects.

High Definiton TV is a new all digital version of television. It provides more than double the resolution of standard analog tv and often has Dolby Digital (5 separate speakers) for sound. It is at the center of the new home theater industry. The most common misconception is that digital cable is HDTV. This could not be farther from the truth. HDTV is a new format for television, while digital cable is simply a new method of delivering the same old format. HDTV is actually something that must be seen to be appreciated.

Find a store that is actually showing an HDTV broadcast before you judge. Make sure to ask the salesman if it is actually HD you are seeing. Trust me, if the picture looks fuzzy at all, you are not seeing the real thing. There are no HDTV monitors that look fuzzy with HD.

HDTV is also a widescreen format, meaning that the screen has a 16:9 (rectangle) aspect ratio instead of the 4:3 (almost square) that normal tv has. Almost everyone will have seen "widescreens" in the stores by now. When I have had guests over, I cannot count the number of "WOW"s I hear. It really is like looking out a window.

HDTV is broadcast in most major cities at this point through cable and through a DBS service such as Direct TV and Dish. For virtually everyone, in order to receive HD you will need either a cable box, satellite dish, or a rooftop antenna.

The list is growing everyday, but right now the major broadcast networks are broadcasting their prime time lineups in HDTV (with some reality and news shows). The Tonight Show, most network weekly movie specials, and many major sporting events are also broadcast in HDTV, the Masters, US Open, Final Four, and Winter Olympics to name a few recent events. In most areas, one can view HDTV offerings from ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, FOX.

The great news for viewers is that some of these are available for FREE! Through cable and Satellite you can get HDNET, HBO, Showtime and Discovery HD channels. As you might guess, these services are not free, but there are no additional fees for the HD offerings.

More shows and content are being continually added.

First you will need an HDTV television or monitor. These are all pretty well labeled in stores, and usually have a larger viewing area than a standard TV. This larger size is due to the increased resolution. On a 27" or smaller tv, the enhanced picture is not as noticeable. One word of caution however, with HDTV these big screens look magnificent, but when you use a regular cable signal, all of the flaws that you never notice on smaller tv's are magnified and the picture can be pretty disappointing. These "big screen" HDTV's range from about $1500.00 up to $80,000!

You will need to buy/rent an HDTV tuner or set top box depending on your provider. With this set top box you can you receive the HDTV signals being broadcast. There are many brands to choose from.

This set top box also needs to be hooked up to a stereo system that can provide the "surround" sound. This addition is not necessary to experience HDTV, but certainly adds to it. Such systems range in price from $200 for the "Home Theater in a Box" to many thousands for advanced equipment. All in all, there are many wires and hookups to make to complete your system. This is not a simple plug n' play technology at this point. I am a big fan of HDTV and love my own setup, but I must admit it is a little confusing for the average TV viewer. We strongly suggest you hire the professionals for the setup process!

For those of you who love new technology, or watch lots of TV it can be a great investment... but be prepared to spend at least $3000 and 10-20 hours research online to set it up correctly. Visit our in store experience and we will be able to answer any other questions you might have. Lastly, if you make the jump to HDTV, have plenty of snacks and beverages on hand because you'll have lots of visitors for all of those NFL football games!