High definition for TV sets refers to the number of lines on the screen; anything above 720p or 1080i is generally considered HD. Technically, high-definition sources can be anything from 576p at the low end of HD TV broadcasting, up to 1080p with Blu-ray.
The “p” stands for “progressive”, which gives a more stable picture than an interlaced picture which usually has an “i” after the number, while numbers such as 1080 or 720 represent the number of lines the TV uses to display the picture, and is regarded as high definition. The “i” and “p” denote different ways of displaying those lines. HDMI version 1.3 allows for WQXGA resolution (2560 x 1600) and up to 16 bits per pixel, which is a much higher resolution than 1080p.
Our test is limited to 1080p and the Blu-ray standard of 8 bits per pixel, since there is no commonly available source material or player beyond 1080p (8-bit) or any commercially available display higher than 1080p. What this means is that the current HDMI standard supports technologies beyond even the latest Blu-ray equipment, and even if and when these higher quality resolutions become available, the effect for the average user of current HDMI cables will be minimal.
Creating a better home theatre experience
- Look at reducing the ambient light in your room with blinds or choose a room where direct sunlight is least intrusive.
- Take the time to properly calibrate your home theatre system for the best quality sound.
- Don’t spend your entire budget on the display and ignore your audio system; good sound is just as important as video.
- Don’t expect those amazingly cheap DVDs you may have purchased while overseas to provide fantastic quality video and audio. No matter how much you spend on cables, the maxim of "garbage in, garbage out" applies to all video and audio.
- If your TV does not support HDMI, check to see if you can use component video instead of composite or S-video. The results could still give you HD quality video, with up to 1080i resolutions achievable.
- DVI (Digital Visual Interface) supports video only, with an identical signal to HDMI. It was introduced by the PC industry and can be found on many PC monitors as well as some flat panel TVs. DVI provides complete support for HDMI video through the use of an HDMI/DVI converter.
- HDMI 1.3a is the latest HDMI standard that incorporates faster data transfer speed support for future video technologies and support for more colours.
- DVD upscaling allows you to view your current DVD titles in an “enhanced video” mode, where the picture is interpolated to either 1080i or 1080p so your DVD movie appears almost HD. However, you need an HDMI connection and TV that can display HD to enjoy the benefits of DVD upscaling.
- Toslink provides a digital audio connection and is a good option if you’re unable to use HDMI to connect your Blu-ray player to your home theatre system. However, while Toslink supports most digital audio formats, it doesn’t support audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master audio signals.
- Component is the only analog cable solution to provide up to HD (1080i) quality if the TV can display the resolution. Three video cables are required to show the video, and you need a separate cable for sound.
- WQXGA (Wide Quad eXtended Graphics Array) is a resolution quality allowing pictures to be displayed at up to 2560 x 1600 pixels. Bits per pixel is a way to define the ability to resolve various degrees of colour resolution.