some terms you may need to know before you buy anything in the DTV/HDTV world.
1080i refers to the number of interlaced pixel scan lines appearing on a screen
- 1,080. An interlaced screen has 1,080 vertical pixels by 1,920 horizontal
pixels. Interlaced scanning "paints" the picture on the screen by first filling
in all the odd-numbered scan lines then filling in all the even-numbered scan
lines. Done very quickly, the eye only sees one picture on the television.
Unlike progressive scanning, which fills in each line before proceeding to the
next line, interlaced scanning is not as stable and prone to artifacting.
Ratio of the widescreen television screen. For example, for every 16 inches
wide, a 16:9 screen is 9 inches high. Also known as 1.78:1 in the film world,
most movies are shown in 16:9 format, which means that a movie shown in a
theater will be accurately reproduced on a 16:9 widescreen television screen
without compression or cropping. Virtually all plasma, lcd and rear-projection
televisions are 16:9 format. In contrast, traditional televisions are 4:3 ratio.
Digital technology developed by Faroudja to accurately convert and display movie
pictures filmed at 24 frames per second on the standard framerate for television
broadcasts of 30 frames per second.
Same as 2/3 pulldown.
4:3 refers to the standard ratio for traditional televisions. For example, for
every 4 inches wide, a 4:3 screen is 3 inches high.
480i refers to "480 interlaced", a form of standard definition digital
television broadcast that approximates the quality of analog television but is
not considered high definition.
480p refers to "480 progressive", a form of standard definition digital
television broadcast comparable to computer displays but not considered high
definition. Each line of the screen is painted before the next line.
720p refers to "720 progressive", a form of high definition digital television
that comprises 720 vertical pixels by 1,280 horizontal pixels. Scanning is done
by painting a line of pixels before the next one is painted. Because of the
sequential scanning, 720p is better able to handle motion and is actually
superior to 1080i for that reason.
Refers to the way cable broadcasts are transmitted directly from the television
wall cable to the television.
Describes the way 16:9 films are compressed to be shown on a 4:3 television
screen with black bars on the top and bottom of the picture.
Processing present in all dvd players where an anamorphic film is "fitted" onto
a 4:3 television screen.
Anti-Reflection Screen Coating
The coating on a television screen which absorbs light and resists its
reflection. Helps to keep the image clear to the viewer.
An abnormality in a video image resulting in a temporary, visual distortion.
Also known as "pixelation" since the individual pixels can be briefly seen.
Refers to the relationship between the width and height of a television screen.
A standard television has an aspect ratio of 4:3 while a widescreen television
has an aspect ratio of 16:9.
Refers to the part of the television where connections to audio components such
as a receiver can be made.
Refers to the intensity of black in a picture. If not set correctly, picture
detail quality will be poor in dimly lit scenes of a movie. Also refers to the
ability of the display to produce a dark, deep shade of black. This is often a
problem in plasma and lcd displays.
Refers to an uneven use of pixels caused by excessively bright and stationary
images which results in a permanent ghosted shadow.
Cathode Ray Tube
The classic-type television with an electron gun at the back of a vacuum
Technical name for the signal that carries the color information (red, green and
blue) required to display a color image.
Otherwise called white balance, color temperature is expressed in degrees kelvin
or just Kelvins. Color temperature refers to the color of gray at different
levels from black to white. Since color information overlays the black-and-white
information in a TV signal, color temperature affects the entire range of color.
The National Television Standards Committee (NTSC) standard is 6,500K, but
typically manufacturers ship their TVs with color temperatures ranging from
about 7,000K to 12,000K, on the blue side of the color spectrum, to make sets as
bright as possible to stand out on a brightly lit showroom sales floor.
Component in all televisions that separates the color information in a signal
from the brightness information.
Component Video Input [Y, PB(CB), PR(CR)]
A type of superior video input used for DVD players and some game consoles.
Picture quality is superior to s-video, composite and antenna-in.
Refers to the reduction in the number of bits required to store or transmit
data. The method adopted for digital television is called MPEG-2.
The brightness of a display at full white over the brightness of a display at
full black. Because the black value is greatly affected by ambient light, some
TV technologies calculate contrast ratio in darkened rooms.
Digital Cable Ready
Official term for a high definition television that conforms to plug-and-play
digital cable TV standard using "point of deployment" access cards (a/k/a
CableCARDs). A digital cable ready-TV allows users to plug the cable directly
into an HDTV set and enjoy HDTV and digital cable without having to use a
separate set-top box. If there is also interactive functionality built into the
set, it is labeled Interactive Digital Cable Ready.
Digital Comb Filter
See comb filter definition.
Digital Light Processing (DLP)
Technology developed by Texas Instruments that is based on a digital micromirror
device (a chip with millions of microscopic, hinged mirrors). Red, green and
blue light is filtered through a color wheel and directed alternately onto the
DMD, which switches on and off up to 5,000 times a second. The reflected light
is directed through a lens and onto a screen, creating the image. High end HDTV
projectors use three DMDs and forgo the color wheel--each DMD corresponds to a
separate color (red, green and blue).
A major satellite television provider which broadcasts several channels in
Dish Satellite TV
Another major satellite television provider which also broadcasts several
channels in high-definition.
Dolby Digital (AC-3)
Refers to the standard under which digital surround sound is broadcast. Dolby
Digital is a 6-channel standard corresponding to a center channel, two side
front channels, two rear side channels and a subwoofer channel.
Refers to the conversion of a high-resolution broadcast to a lower resolution
broadcast. For example, some DTV receivers can be set to downconvert an HDTV
1080i signal to a standard 480i signal that any TV can display.
DTV is the acronym for Digital Television. Digital television comes in three,
increasing quality standards: standard definition, enhanced definition and high
Digital Visual Interface - a type of standard connector between the display and
a computer or other device. DVI images are superior to composite video and
Refers to "digital video recorder", also known as "personal video recorder". A
DVR or PVR records broadcasts on a hard disk drive which can then be played back
at a later time (this is known as "time shifting"). The most well known DVR is
Refers to enhanced definition television. EDTV is a broadcast standard that
produces 852x480 pixel resolution images. EDTV broadcasts are superior to
standard definition broadcasts but not as good as high definition broadcasts.
Refers to "electronic programming guide". This feature is found on satellite and
cable tuner boxes and DVRs, and increasingly on TVs and DVD recorders and
provides an onscreen listing of available channels and program data for an
extended time period (e.g. 36 hours or more).
Federal Communications Commission - Federal governmental agency responsible for
the regulation of broadcast television in the United States.
Flat Panel Television
Term used to refer to televisions that are modularly thin. Plasma screen
displays and LCD TVs are the two types of flat panel televisions.
Flat Screen Television
Term used to refer to televisions whose display screen is "flat" instead of
curved at corners and edges.
Frame Rate (FPS)
Refers to the number of individual still pictures that pass by every second to
create a moving image. Films run at 24fps, while video, including DVD, runs at
30fps. To compensate for the difference, 2:3 pull-down detection is used.
Type of television system whereby an image is projected onto a screen or a wall.
The image size is variable depending on the distance of the projector from the
screen or wall.
Refers to the effect where multiple overlaid TV images are noticeable around the
edges of objects. This occurs when the antenna picks up multiple signals in
addition to the original signal due to reflection from objects or other
distortions. Also refers to the image left on a screen as a result of burn-in.
Range of gray at different intensities from completely black to completely
HDMI / HDCP Interface
USB-like connection that can transmit both uncompressed digital audio and video
signals while simultaneously adhering to the High-bandwidth Digital Content
Protection (HDCP) standard.
Acronym for "high definition television", the highest of the digital television
standards. HDTV displays pictures either in 720p or 1080i.
Refers to any television that would be capable of receiving high definition
signals, provided that an additional receiver is also connected. An HDTV-ready
television requires an HDTV receiver in order to receive and decode high
Device that receives and decodes high definition signals. An HDTV receiver is
required to be connected to an HDTV-ready TV in order for the TV to receive high
Same as an HDTV receiver.
Number of vertical lines (or pixels) that can be resolved from one side of an
image to the other. While the vertical resolution of all analog video sources is
the same (480 lines), the horizontal resolution varies according to the source.
Some examples for typical sources: VHS VCRs (240 lines), analog TV broadcasts
(330 lines), non-HDTV digital satellite TV (up to 380 lines), and DVD players
(540 lines). DTV signals have horizontal resolution that ranges from 640 lines
for SDTV to 1,280 lines (for 720p HDTV) or 1,920 lines (for 1080i HDTV).
(Definition properly attributed to CNET.)
Integrated Speaker System
Refers to speakers built into the television. Many plasma and LCD models do not
come with integrated speakers. Therefore, it is important to note whether this
feature is included before purchasing. Otherwise, separate speakers will need to
Refers to scanning method used by the majority of televisions and the 1080i HDTV
format. Interlacing involves painting the odd-numbered lines of a screen in
succession, then going back and filling in all the remaining even-numbered
lines. As opposed to progressive scanning in which all the lines are painted in
sequence, interlacing is more prone to artifacts and is less stable than
Refers to liquid crystal display technology, one of the two most popular
technologies behind flat panel televisions (the other being plasma). Liquid
crystal display technology works by blocking light from a high intensity source
in order to display a picture. Liquid crystals are sandwiched between two glass
plates and minor temperature variations are introduced to particular points
causing the crystals to change colors in predetermined patterns.
Refers to "liquid crystal on silicon", a newer form of liquid crystal
technology. Whereas liquid crystal in an LCD screen is sandwiched between two
transparent plates, LCoS involves liquid crystals placed on silicon, a hoped-for
cheaper manufacturing alternative.
Refers to a way that wide-screen images are displayed on a standard 4:3 screen.
In letterbox format, the image is bounded by black bars on the top and bottom to
create a widescreen image.
Technology used to create a higher-quality picture by increasing the number of
lines of resolution displayed.
The unit of measure for the light output of a projector.
Refers to Moving Picture Experts Group-2, a video-compression scheme used to
condense digital video content for broadcast over thin TV bandwidths or via the
Internet, and to squeeze full-length digital films onto a DVD.
Refers to the resolution at which a TV or monitor is designed to display images
without conversion. Image signals higher or lower than a specified native
resolution must be converted to display accurately. For example, a television
with a native resolution of 1080i will need to upconvert 480p images to 1080i to
display properly. CRT TVs can have multiple resolutions but flat panel TVs can
only have one native resolution.
Acronym for National Television Standards Committee, the FCC engineering group
formed in 1940 to develop technical standards for black-and-white television
(NTSC broadcasting began July 1, 1941) and color television (1953). NTSC
developed the video-transmission standard used in the western hemisphere, Japan,
and other Asian countries. NTSC standards are 525 lines of resolution
transmitted within a 6MHz channel at 30fps.
Refers to "on-screen display" program setup. OSD allows one to view and change
settings displayed on the television screen.
Over the Air Broadcast
Refers to any broadcast signal received by the television other than from
subscriber satellite or cable.
Acronym for Phase Alternating Line, the video-transmission standard introduced
in the early 1960s and used in most European countries except France and the
former Soviet Union. PAL standards specify 625 lines of resolution at 50fps.
Refers to the ability of newer television models to display two channels at
once. PIPs are usually displayed as a small rectangular screen within the main
TV screen or two images side-by-side.
Refers to the smallest points of color on a screen, composed of separate red,
green and blue subpixels that combine to create an image.
Refers to the distance between pixels. The lower the pixel pitch, the sharper
Refers to the display technology in plasma televisions. Each plasma panel
contains thousands of tiny tubes filled with ionized gas that, when excited by
electricity, glow in different colors and intensities to create an image.
Scanning method whereby each row of pixels is sequentially scanned as opposed to
interlaced scanning whereby all odd pixels are scanned, then all even pixels.
Same as DVR.
Type of television where an image is projected from the rear of the television
cabinet onto a screen at the front. The two most popular types of
rear-projection TVs are based on one of two technologies - LCD or DLP.
Refers to the tendency of a television's color decoder to accentuate the color
of red as compared to blue and green. Typically, this is intentionally caused to
compensate for an overly blue color temperature.
Response time is a measure of how long a display takes to change the image. A
typical LCD television is 2 to 3 times faster than the average computer monitor
LCD. Fast response time is superior for playing computer games and viewing
action movies and sports.
Refers to the number of pixels a television is capable of displaying. A higher
resolution usually corresponds to a sharper image.
A type of connection that separates the color data from the brightness data
entering into a television from an external device such as a DVD player.
Refers to standard-definition television, a digital television format that
includes 480-line resolution in both interlaced and progressively scanned
formats. Similar to DVD or satellite TV in quality, it is not considered high
See Dolby Digital.
A popular manufacturer of digital video recorders.
Refers to the conversion from a lower-resolution input signal to a television
capable of receiving higher resolutions. For example, a conversion from an SDTV
source signal of 480p to HDTV 1080i on an HDTV television is an up conversion.
Canadian-invented electronic component that allows television broadcasts to be
filtered according to ratings criteria. V-Chips are typically marketed as a
parental control on the types of television children can watch.
Feature found on 4:3 TVs designed to take advantage of the extra resolution in
anamorphic DVDs and other wide-screen content. Pioneered by Sony, this feature
squeezes the TV raster so that the electron beam scans in a smaller area. It
requires setting the DVD player to 16:9 mode, eliminates anamorphic
downconversion artifacts, and ideally provides a 33 percent increase in
resolution in the letterboxed image. (Definition from CNET.)
Refers to the number of horizontal lines (or pixel rows) from the top of the
television screen to the bottom.
Voom Satellite TV
Upstart satellite TV broadcaster. Competitor to DirecTV and Dish Network.
Term used to refer to 16:9 screen ratio.
Refers to the blank bars (usually black in color) on each side of a 4:3 image
displayed on a 16:9 widescreen television.
Pr, Y Cb Cr, Y R-Y B-Y
Technical shorthands for component video.