Thinking about hooking a PC Media Center to your HDTV? eHomeUpgrade has some do's and don'ts:
So you’ve decided to jump into the 21st century and setup your digital living room using a PC running some media center application like Microsoft’s Media Center. But when you go to hook up your PC to your new plasma HDTV the cables don’t match and you’re confused – what’s going on here? Well, using a PC in the digital living room has a few hang-ups so here’s my do’s and don’ts for hooking up your PC to your HDTV.
You tune your Piano (actually we've never tuned ours and it sounds like crap), so why not fine tune your HDTV? The Home Theater Dude has a nice article on HDTV calibration that asks:
Why should I calibrate my HDTV?
Well, just like any other fine piece of technology, why have it if you aren’t getting the most out of it? You wouldn’t own and regularly drive a high end sports car without it being properly tuned and maintained, so why not do the same for your high end HDTV?
Some HDTVs look very good out of the box, but oftentimes, we can make them look even better. Sometimes, considerably better. With the chance to get more vibrant colors, better shadow detail, and more immersion in your home theater, you should want to calibrate your set.
Hey, I just rememered something. We don't even have a piano (could be the reason it sounds so bad).
Here's something that's sure to cause an uproar among taxpayers. According to the Washington Post:
The Senate's budget bill, which passed last week, contains a $3 billion subsidy for owners of televisions that are not ready to handle the eventual transition to digital television.
The subsidy would go to pay for converter boxes, which would take the digital signal from the broadcasters and convert it so that it can be displayed by analog TVs. Televisions hooked up to cable or satellite would not need the converters, nor would televisions capable of receiving a digital signal.
"There are enough low-income Americans that would have difficulty coming up with the $40 or the $50 for a conversion box, so we want to help them out on a one-time basis," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe L. Barton, Texas Republican, who is pushing for finishing the transfer to digital broadcasting.
"Since it's a federal law that we're saying you have to broadcast digitally, and we have lots of TV sets in this country that are still good that aren't digitally capable, I think it's reasonable to have a modest subsidy on a one-time basis," he said.
I'm not against some subsidy to help people, especially in rural areas, but $3 billion? Let's just put the subsidy towards making HDTV even cheaper so everyone can buy one!
Want a Plasma TV with a few extra bells and whistles? How about the VIERA TH-65PV500 from Panasonic, a 65-inch HDTV with a built-in SD card slot? According to MobileMag.com:
There is a very interesting feature on this model. It can record TV directly onto an SD or PCMCIA card in the MPEG4 format. You can then replay the recordings on the TV itself, or on any portable video players that supports the format. That means you can watch Lost in vivid color one night, and then catch it again on the bus on the way to work the next morning.
At $12,000 I really need this baby to make my morning coffee, but maybe I'm a little too demanding?
As HDTV prices continue to drop, a lot of potential buyers are curious how HDTV really works. ProjectorCentral.com has an older but still relevant article that explains HDTV in plain english. The article states:
So how many more scanlines do you get? Well, there are two popular HDTV formats in use. One is called 1080i, and the other is 720p. But don't worry, there are no format wars to worry about. All digital projectors and digital HDTVs take both formats. The fact is that ABC, ESPN, and Fox broadcast in 720p, while CBS, NBC, HDNet and others use 1080i. Both formats produce great pictures that are a leap forward over regular television.
Definitely an article you'll want to read before you take the HDTV plunge.
So you've finally broken down and decided to get your rear projection big screen HDTV. So what type of screen do you get? SoundandVisionMag.com has an in-depth article that compares DLP and LCD screens. The article states:
One key similarity between the two sets is the native resolution of their display chips: 1,280 horizontal x 720 vertical pixels. But LCD and DLP RPTVs use very different processes to display pictures. Most DLP (Digital Light Processing) sets have a single chip and a rotating filter that chops white light from a lamp into a sequence of red, green, and blue beams. The beams are reflected from the chip, which contains hundreds of thousands of tiny mirrors. These mirrors pivot thousands of times a second to control the brightness of the pixels and are synchronized to display a red, green, or blue projection that the eye blends into a full-color image.
In an LCD (liquid-crystal display) projection TV, light from a single lamp is directed to a trio of miniature LCD panels that process the red, green, and blue light components separately. The pixels in each panel contain a liquid-crystal material that regulates the amount of light passing through them by twisting and untwisting in response to electrical voltages. After exiting the LCD panels, the three colored beams are combined by a prism and projected onto the screen by a lens.
This is an excellent article you'll want to read before you spend your hard earned money on your HDTV.
We've mentioned it before, but buying an HDTV can be confusing to say the least. PCWorld.com has one of the best articles you'll find on the misconceptions of HDTV. One of the misconceptions they discuss:
"The higher the screen resolution, the better the image quality of an HDTV."
Most HDTV sets today are 720p displays, but a few vendors are beginning to offer 1080p sets--either LCDs or rear-projection micro-display (LCD, LCoS, DLP) models. As yet, no 1080p plasmas are available (though some have been announced in very large sizes). These sets will clearly do the best job of handling 1080p content--when it arrives. But today's HDTV shows are shown in either 720p or 1080i format: nobody broadcasts in 1080p because of bandwidth issues. Movies may someday be available in 1080p on optical media, but Hollywood hasn't settled on the next-generation hardware standard (Blu-ray or HD-DVD), much less chosen a content format.
Lack of 1080p content is one reason some vendors are holding off on introducing 1080p sets. But those that are selling 1080p sets point out that some HDTV is broadcast in 1080i, and that such content arguably looks better on a 1080p set because less scaling is involved. (On the other hand, 720p content has to be scaled up for a 1080p set.) Here again, though, the capabilities of the human eye come into play: You'll probably notice the superior resolution of 1080p only if you sit very close to the set--or have an extremely large set.
The other myths the article tackles:
"An HD set is all you need to get high-def programs."
"The bigger your HDTV set, the better it will look."
"You have to relinquish the fluid motion of a CRT screen when you move up to HDTV."
"Burn-in will wreck your plasma HDTV within a year."
"Bright LCDs look beautiful everywhere, and they use much less power than plasma or CRT sets do."
"These pricey TVs look so great out of the box that it's a waste to pay a small fortune to have a professional calibrate your set."
"All true HDTV programming looks equally great."
"Standard-definition TV is unwatchable on HDTV."
"I'll have to toss all my current analog sets when the digital conversion kicks in."
This is definitely a must-read article for anyone considering HDTV.
Got an HDTV? Did you know you can get your local major network's HDTV signal for free? All you'll need to do is install an outdoor antenna. CNET.com has a nice 6 part tutorial with video that shows you how to buy and set up an antenna for your HDTV and it starts:
If you have an HDTV with a built-in digital tuner, you can get high-def programming without paying a dime in monthly subscription fees to the local cable or satellite megaconglomerate. You can also enjoy free over-the-air high-def broadcasts if you have an HDTV-ready television connected to an external high-def tuner, such as the Humax HFA100.
All you need, so the story goes, is to connect an antenna. Free high-def programming is explained in depth here, but in short, you can receive high-def broadcasts from the major networks--ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and PBS--over the air in most areas of the country today.
HD versus HD-ready probably causes the most confusion for television buyers. Here is a breakdown from HP.com:
HD, or integrated HD, means that all of the equipment needed to accept and reproduce high definition content is provided on a television right out of the box. HD-ready, on the other hand, means that the television is capable of displaying HD content, but a separate HD tuner/receiver is required to convert on-air and cable/satellite signals to higher resolutions.
An HD-ready TV is probably sufficient for most buyers since almost every cable and satellite company offer HD tuner boxes now. So the next time you're HDTV shopping, you'll know what it means when the display says HD-ready.