November 02, 2007
| by Rebecca Day
Viewing HDTV for the first time is a life-changing experience. Objects appear more real, colors are purer, and detail is razor-sharp. It’s easy to say, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
But it does. Today’s higher-end TVs offer “Full HD” 1080p resolution, which offers twice the resolution of first-generation HDTVs. The challenge for owners of 1080p TVs is finding enough content produced in the super-hi-res format, as it will be years before broadcasters send out 1080p signals. Some are still scrambling to deliver content in the lower-resolution HD formats known as 720p and 1080i.
That’s where HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc come in. Both high-resolution DVD formats deliver stunning 1080p video quality and give 1080p HDTV owners the maximum pixels for their buck. Like any new format, Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD players hit the market with expensive players that early adopters snatched up. Prices came down, and now both Blu-ray and HD DVD offer values to mainstream consumers as well.
The catch? The formats are incompatible, so you either have to align yourself with one camp—most movies are available in only one of the formats—or hedge your bets with a dual-format player. Blu-ray Disc is favored by Sony, Pioneer, Philips, Sharp, Denon and Marantz. Toshiba leads the HD DVD brigade, followed by Onkyo and Microsoft. LG and Samsung sell players that can display both.
Is 1080p worth it? Those who want a big-screen experience from a close distance, especially gamers, will appreciate the increased resolution. Gamers will be a big part of the 1080p picture as HD gaming takes off. And keep in mind that Sony’s PlayStation 3 comes with a Blu-ray Disc drive, while Microsoft’s Xbox 360 works with an add-on HD DVD drive.
Television is more interesting than people. If it were not, we would have people standing in the corners of our rooms.
— Alan Corenk
High-end TV manufacturers stress the importance of auditioning 1080p TVs in stores to compare one picture with another, because components such as filters and video processors play a significant role in determining the overall quality of a picture, especially when it is “upconverting” from a lower-resolution broadcast to the higher resolution 1080p.
Paul Meyhoefer, vice president of display product planning and marketing for Pioneer Electronics, says the company’s 720p displays stand up to 1080p TVs because of other built-in technology. “Our picture will go head to head with 1080p panels,” he says, “because of the processing and contrast.”