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HDTV: Everyone's Still Confused!

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When I look at the ratings for X-Factor, Big Brother and Celebrity x,y or z; when I check the album charts and the ghost towns formerly known as libraries (that's a biggie for me) I tend to draw the depressing conclusion that the vast majority of people are horrifyingly stupid. Now I know so...

This confirmation comes after research commissioned by LG revealed this week that an unforgiveable 25 per cent of the UK don't understand what High Definition is while - a more understandable - 80 per cent are confused by 'HD Ready' and 'Full HD'. LG also declares that 62 per cent of Brits "still don't own an HDTV" but given the confusion going on I'm frankly amazed it is this high.

Ok, time for a little name and shame before I don my more reasoned hat:

  • Yorkshire and Humberside have the lowest understanding of what HD is with 30 per cent of people surveyed believing that owning a TV with an HD Ready logo or a digital box would automatically make all content high definition
  • Scotland has the lowest adoption rate with 73 per cent of people still not owning an HDTV
  • After buying an HDTV, over 30 per cent of Londoners thought the reduction in picture quality was due to lighting conditions in the room rather than the lack of HD content running on the screen
  • 50 per cent of respondents in Yorkshire and Humberside thought that retailers used specially tuned high definition TVs to provide product demonstrations as the content quality wasn’t as good when they got it home - when in fact they were not watching HD content

On the plus side:
  • Wales has the highest understanding of HD with 90 per cent knowing how HD content is produced and viewed
  • East Anglia has the highest HD adoption rate with 50 per cent of people now owning an HDTV

Of course the full (HD? Sorry) picture isn't that simple and in all fairness the industry must shoulder the majority of the blame. 'HD Ready' was a hugely ambiguous marketing term that allowed the earliest HDTV manufacturers to get away with murder, while 'Full HD' (essentially meaning a higher resolution screen) has been grossly miss-sold as an essential feature when many of the best TVs (notably from plasma makers such as Pioneer) were not.

After all, did anyone ever tell you that Standard Definition (SD) pictures - the bulk of your TV viewing experience - generally look better on a mid-range HD Ready TV than a mid-range Full HD model? This is because they don't have to stretch (the technical term is upscale) the picture so far (think of blowing up a 4 x 6in photo 100 per cent or 200 per cent - which is likely to have the better quality?).

I bet no one ever told you SD pictures also, almost invariably, look better on your old, boxy CRT TV than they will on that swanky new HDTV you just bought. HDTVs are - believe it or not - primarily designed to show High Definition sources (eg, Sky HD, Blu-ray movies etc). So if you don't plan to watch a High Definition source or save space, don't bother upgrading.

For more of these wondrous titbits and a lot more about what HDTV is all about check out Riyad's thorough and very readable High Definition Guide which was published way back in July 2006.

Yep, we've been trying to tell you...

Links:
High Definition: The Big Picture (Riyad's thorough guide to HDTV)

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