How do I know if I am really watching, receiving or getting HD?

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Richard
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How do I know if I am really watching, receiving or getting HD?

Postby Richard » 08 Mar 2010, 10:50

Getting HDTV / DTV content to any display for simple viewing is extremely easy. If you own or just purchased an HDTV or signed up for HD services a burning question worthy of investigation is whether or not you are really having an HD experience or if your HD experience is all it can be.

The big understanding or lack there of, is that having access to HD content is not the same thing as viewing HD content in HD.

Common Complaints
The channel is HD but it doesn’t look any different from my SD channels
HD looks better than SD but the picture is geometrically warped
HD looks better than SD but the picture lacks detail
HD has black side bars or black bars top and bottom
HD has black bars all around - it’s just a box in the middle

Possibly Dumb but Necessary To Say

Read the owners manual!
You must have an HDTV
You must have an HD video source - over the air antenna for your DTV tuner, a DTV tuner if your display does not have one, cable HD service, satellite HD service, Blu-ray player. I am leaving out PC and internet streaming, due to it’s unique complications generating a novel, but many of the points to be made parallel what you need to do for these services or understand about these services.

Source and Display Connections
Typically the cable or satellite installer will set this up correctly but not always.

DTV
If your HDTV was purchased after 2005 it has an integrated DTV Tuner and you don’t need anything else. If your HDTV was purchased prior to this date then it may not have a DTV Tuner in which case you have to buy another box, a DTV Tuner. A DTV Tuner is a fully functional HD product and not to be confused with a DTV Convertor that simply turns DTV and HD content into standard definition so you can still use your legacy TV from yesteryear with an antenna.

You will need an indoor or outdoor antenna for DTV.

If your HDTV has a DTV tuner then the burning question is automatically resolved for the most part; you will get HD content if the broadcaster provides HD content.

If you are using a DTV tuner then you need to setup the output of the product for an HD scan rate such as 720p or 1080i and typically 1080i is the better choice. You must connect the DTV tuner to an analog component video connection or HDMI connection and you must select that input on your display. Properly set up, you will get HD content if the broadcaster provides HD content.

Not all analog component video connections on legacy HDTVs support HD scan rates but at least one will - look for 720p and/or 1080i labels near by.

Cable and free DTV
Cable systems are required by law to provide your DTV locals for free with any of their services. It may not be easy, but you can hook up your cable antenna to your HDTV and find them. Please refer to the following article.

ATSC Cable QAM Tuners - CableCARD or ATSC Ready

Cable and Satellite
You will need an HD cable box or satellite receiver.

You cannot use an RF cable between the box and your display and tune to channel 3 or 4. It will work but you won’t be able to view HD content in HD ( a common mistake).

You need to setup the output of the product for an HD scan rate such as 720p or 1080i and typically 1080i is the better choice (1080p is valid if the box provides it and your display supports it). You must connect the cable box or satellite receiver to an analog component video connection or HDMI connection and you must select that input on your display. Properly set up, you will get HD content if the broadcaster provides HD content.

Not all analog component video connections on legacy HDTVs support HD scan rates but at least one will - look for 720p and/or 1080i labels near by.

Blu-ray Player
You need to setup the output of the product for an HD scan rate such as 720p, 1080i, or 1080p and typically 1080i/1080p is the better choice. You must connect the player to an analog component video connection or HDMI connection and you must select that input on your display. Properly set up, you will get HD content from a Blu-ray disc for the main feature, the movie.

Not all analog component video connections on legacy HDTVs support HD scan rates but at least one will - look for 720p and/or 1080i labels near by.

If Your Display Supports It...
Unlike yesteryear, most HDTVs today will tell you the scan rate of the incoming video signal by pressing a button on the remote typically labeled info or display. If your HDTV supports this then push that button and confirm that it says 720p, 1080i or 1080p - the scan rate you selected earlier during connection and setup.

Format or Aspect
All HDTVs, some cable boxes and all satellite receivers provide this feature. It changes the geometry or size of the incoming image mostly to get rid of black bars so every square inch of your screen is emitting light, right or wrong, for better or worse. The issue at hand is how it affects HD performance for the worse.

Some of these products lock out this feature when viewing content output as an HD scan rate, 1080i / 720p / 1080p (that’s good, insuring correct perfromance). Others do not, allowing you to change the aspect or format (that causes the problem).

Most of these products have a direct access button on the remote labeled as Aspect or Format. Some will require accessing a menu to change it.

To find out where your product(s) stand, after properly connecting your product and setting the output scan rate, tune to an HD channel and press the aspect / format button. If the picture never changes the product is designed to lock out this feature with HD scan rates. If the picture does change then you need to use the correct setting to get HD in all it’s glory.

Aspect and format terms have varied but as of late nearly all manufacturers are at least using one label consistently, Standard. Standard is the correct aspect / format setting for your 16:9 display and the 16:9 HD content you are watching. Both the source and your display must be using this setting to get the refined and highly detailed images you expect of HD and Blu-ray.

DTV and Cable / Satellite HD Channels

DTV is a digital RF broadcast system that replaced our old analog broadcast system, nothing more. DTV broadcasters are not required by law to provide HD content.

Between the major nationals, ABC, CBS and NBC, there is HD content 7days a week between 8-11PM. CBS and NBC also broadcast their late night shows in HD. While HD is not mandatory for DTV, most folks live close enough to a major city to get at least one DTV channel providing HD content.

HD Channels do not always provide HD content. We have lots of HD Channels running 24/7 and there is not enough HD content to fill those hours. Many will take SD content and apply an aspect or format to fill out your screen before transmission. Since it fills out your screen, just like real HD, many assume such content must also be HD yet wonder why it doesn’t look the part.

The most likely time period for an HD Channel to provide HD content is when most people are home. Daytime work hours, Monday thru Friday, is the most difficult time period to find the real thing. Sports provide great HD content night and day when available.

The best approach of all when you are having HD doubts is to check with a programming guide that shows what programming for an HD Channel is supposed to be in HD. If you register with our site, it's free, you can customize the guide for your area and services.

HDTV Magazine Programming Guide

24/7 HD Content
HDnet is considered a reference for broadcasting HD content only. This content typically represents state of the art HD captured by HD cameras.

HDnet Movies is also an HD reference but the content comes from film and not all film has the refined detail of HD cameras. Depending on the film, some programs may lack the HD detail you are expecting.

ESPN HD does a great job by at least maintaining a reference point so you won’t be eluded. If the content is SD you will get the ESPN side bar graphics rather than black side bars. If the content fills out your screen it is HD.
Mastertech Repair Corporation
My Audio and Video Systems
"Inspect what you expect!" US Marine Corps

eliwhitney
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Joined: 07 Dec 2006, 04:14
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Re: How do I know if I am really watching, receiving or getting HD?

Postby eliwhitney » 13 Dec 2013, 07:15

To & For:

... secretsquirrel ...

Did you ever stop to {LOOK?} before posting

That extensive, very-complete article was written over THREE (3) & a half YEARS ago!! ...no need of your Comments at all. {Totally-redundant, in my View}

eli


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