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Knowhow - IT and Technology Help

Knowhow is the award-winning end-to-end services brand supporting Currys PC World. Knowhow strives to better serve customers throughout the lifetime of their products and to help them get the best from their technology. Services include delivery and installation, set-up, repairs and protect.

This article series will be introducing new technologies as well as helping us enjoy and make the most of new products for years to come.

Knowhow No. 26


HD has become a must-have when buying a TV, but what exactly does it mean? HD otherwise known as High Definition means the picture on your screen will be shown in a higher resolution than other TVs. HDTV can have up to five times the resolution of a standard definition TV. This allows for unbelievable levels of detail and contrast, providing an incredibly realistic picture for viewing your favourite sports, nature documentaries, movies and shows.

Understanding HDTV

What you'll need


The Knowhow

If you're excited about getting HDTV, there are a few things to consider:

  • All new TVs can display HD
  • Older televisions may only be able to display a standard definition (SD) image; only TVs described as "HD Ready" or "Full HD" can display HD
  • There are a number of screen resolutions to choose from; higher resolutions generally produce a sharper picture
  • HD TVs don't automatically display high definition images; you'll need to be tuned into an HD channel or connect an HD signal from a device such as a games console or Blu-ray player

Where can you get HD channels?

The ordinary analogue signal most homes receive through a TV aerial isn't strong enough to carry HD television so you'll need to get a signal through a digital service like Freeview, Freesat, Cable or Satellite.

These services may require the installation of a set-top box and could also involve a monthly or one-off subscription charge. Some HD TVs have built-in Freeview and Freesat functions; read through the user manual for more details on the HD channels, if any, you can receive. Generally, the exact number of HD channels and services you can have varies according to the signal you use e.g. some subscription services allow you to purchase HD movies.

HD Ready vs. Full HD

When looking for HDTVs you'll come across two types - HD Ready & Full HD. HD Ready allows you to have twice the resolution of SD televisions and the screen will have 720 horizontal pixels in each frame. Full HD allows you to have five times the resolution of SD televisions and the screen will have 1080 horizontal pixels in each frame. Full HD gives you a sharper picture as it has more pixels but currently you can only make full use of this if watching HD shows using a Blu-ray player, from the internet or on dedicated HD channels.

What is upscaling?

DVDs provide SD pictures so watching them on an HD television can show up the lower resolution and make them look blocky or fuzzy. Blu-ray players are able to play DVDs and can "upscale" the SD signal, improving the image shown on the screen. The image can't be turned into true HD but the DVD will appear sharper and smoother when watching on a bigger screen.

Other ways to get an HD picture:

  • Blu-ray discs are designed to give the best possible picture and sound quality on HDTVs
  • The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 allow you to legally download and watch HD movies and TV shows from their online stores. The PS3 also has a built-in Blu-ray player.
  • PCs and Macs have access to lots of legal websites that provide HD downloads

For the best quality picture you'll need to connect the computer, console or Blu-ray player to your HDTV using a cable that can carry a digital signal. An HDMI cable carries the highest quality signal; for more information read our guide to TV cables.

Once the TV is set up with a HD signal, you'll see the difference straight away. Sit back, relax and get ready to enjoy your favourite shows and movies in a totally new way!


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