Aspect ratios for 4:3 and 16:9 formats.This chart compares the differences between common display resolutions sold mostly in the US and Canada. The values from top right to bottom right are the display's


resolution values. The values across the top are also resolution, but determine the display's


resolution and are those that are often cited when advertised. The "PAL" box distinguishes the SDTV format that is used mostly in Europe and a few other places. The smallest NTSC box is the original SDTV size used in the U.S. and represents a 4:3 or


ratio. The rest of the boxes (except of course PAL) all represent a 16:9 or

wide screen

ratio, regardless if 720 or 1080.Step 2

Please click this image for a better view. The top left image could be said to approximate the differences between an HD image and an SD image at the bottom left. These same two left images are also representative of a


scan image when compared to the remaining four images, which are exaggerated examples of an


scan of the same image.

Interlaced or Progressive Scan?The


after 480 and 1080 represents the older interlaced scanning method while the


after 480, 720 and 1080 represents the newer, more desirable progressive scanning method. The term interlace describes how the image is "painted" or scanned on the display. U.S. displays have either 480, 720 or 1080 horizontal lines. An interlaced display will paint the

odd numbered

lines (1, 3, 5, 7, etc.) first starting at the top left corner of the display - continuing to the bottom right. When complete, it will repeat the process for the

even numbered

lines (2, 4, 6, 8, etc.), and continue until the display is shut off. Progressive scanning is a method that paints all lines in a sequential (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) order. Most people prefer the progressive scan display as it generally looks better than an interlaced display (click the image to the right for an example). 480 and 1080 displays can be either or both interlaced or progressive while 720 is only progressive.Step 3

A view of the input jack panel on an older 480i/480P/1080i rear projection HDTV. Shown above are Composite, S-Video, Component, Antenna, MonitorLink/DVI video and Stereo audio inputs and outputs. Notice that there are no HDMI or AC-3 (Dolby 5.1 audio) jacks on this panel.

Which input?An HD monitor (and most HDTVs) will have a selection of input jacks consisting of one or more of the following:

HDMI cable


- High Definition Multimedia Interface - a single connector cable that can deliver


stereo or surround sound and HD video.

DVI cable


- Digital Visual Interface - a multi-pin / single connector & cable that delivers HD

video only


Typical VGA cable found on most computer monitors.


- Video Graphic Adapter - multi-pin / single connector & cable used to connect computer video cards to monitors. If this jack is found on the monitor or HDTV, it can be used to display the computer graphics on the monitor or TV instead of a dedicated computer monitor. This is useful in a home theater computer setup if the installed video card lacks an HDMI port.

RGB Component cable


- Red Green Blue - an assembly of 3 color coded cables that delivers HD

video only

signals via three individual analog connectors. Both the DVI and component video cables will require additional cable(s) to bring audio signals to an amplifier and speakers (or directly to the red and white "L" and "R" stereo audio input jacks of the HDTV).

S Video Cable

"S Video" - A cable that provides a superior signal than the yellow composite type shown below, but can not deliver HD signals. It provides

video only


Typical RCA composite video (yellow) and L and R (red and white) stereo audio cable.

Composite video and stereo audio

- Like the S Video cable above, it can not provide HD video signals. Often times, it is bundled as a cable assembly including L (left) and R (right) audio signals. It has color coded connectors like the component video cable above.Step 4

Check sources

. Since a monitor will only display the signals that are delivered to it, a stand alone ATSC type tuner and a standard UHF / VHF antenna system will be required to watch broadcasters. An HDTV already has a tuner built-in, so a stand alone tuner is not required unless it was equipped with only a legacy NTSC tuner. The older HDTVs may have either one or both the state-of-the-art ATSC or now obsolete NTSC tuner, while new HDTVs have the desired ATSC tuner only. NTSC tuners have been rendered obsolete for OTA (Over the Air broadcast) since June 2009 when the FCC moved broadcasters to digital transmitters, but can still be useful for recieving basic cable stations in standard definition (480i) or recieving signals from the modulated output of a satellite or cable tuner box or VCR. Like the monitor and ATSC tuner combination, the HDTV will also require a standard UHF/VHF antenna system.

The Pace DC757X HD Cable TV "Set Top Box" (sometimes called "STB") is provided by some cable TV systems to customers desiring HD service for HDTVs an HD monitors.

Use of a cable TV or satellite TV provider will replace the need for an ATSC tuner and UHF / VHF antenna system. These providers however, will supply premium HD tuners in order to watch HD images. The standard offering of equipment from these providers is generally SDTV (standard definition TV) and is not capable of providing an HD image to view.

A Pioneer Blu-ray Disk Player

Check video players. In 2008, a battle between developers of two competing video formats (not unlike the one between "BetaMax" and "VHS" video tape technologies decades before); the HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disk was settled, with "Blu-ray Disc" becoming the accepted standard. Both formats are capable of delivering HD images, but the production of both HD-DVD players and the transfer of new movies for rental or purchase on this media has ceased. It is important to note that both the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray format provided

backward compatibility

to the older DVD standard. As such, both can playback standard DVDs. Unfortunately, neither the older "DVD" or "VHS" tape formats will be able to store or deliver HD video. Lastly, a lesser known format, S-VHS ("Super" VHS, not to be confused with the video signal format S-Video) provided better resolution than VHS but was still less than HD, and was not very popular.Step 5

A video composite cable used to deliver SD signals only. When connected to the mating yellow "Video In" jack on an HDTV, it will provide only SD images, and should not be used.

Check cabling

. Having all the right equipment will not allow for HD image display if using the lower resolution inputs and acssociated cables. Use either the HDMI, DVI, VGA or RGB jacks and cables to connect devices. This will ensure that high definition signals are presented to the HDTV or monitor for display. The yellow composite "video in" jack should NOT be used if an HD signal input on the TV and output on a source or player are available. Never connect two devices to the same input group of the HDTV ("Input 1" should only have one device connected, "Input 2" should have a different device, etc.)Step 6

Set up the source devices to work with the display

. Using the HDTV manual and device (Blue-Ray, Satellite Tuner, etc.) manual(s) as a guide, select an input. Review the highest supported resolution that is common to the device and HDTV. If the HDTV is capable of up to 720P, no input greater than 720P should be selected. Likewise, for 1080i or 1080P sources. Many HDTVs will "downrez" to the maximum supported by the HDTV, but it will need to process the signal to do so and result in some signal degradation. The objective is to not limit the resolution of the device's output to less than 480P (progressive scan for some DVD players), 720P or 1080i (for many CATV, satellite, HD-DVD players, etc.) or 1080P (all Blu-Ray Disc players and some satellite receivers), unless that value exceeds the display's maximum resolution input.Step 7


. After tuning different channels or selecting SD sources, it should be readily apparent to the viewer which signal type is which. Live studio broadcasts and sporting events in HD are excellent sources to compare to those that may not be initially obvious. Beard stubble on men, individual blades of grass in golf or baseball, and other images that appear to be 3 dimensional or photo quality are typical examples of HD images. SD images by comparison could be described as "soft" or fuzzy looking - as if a thin coating of petroleum jelly was on the screen.


While large screens are impressive when displaying native HD content, they suffer greatly when displaying SD content. This is because all the "noise" in the image has been increased in size significantly. It becomes more noticeable as the size of the screen increases and is often best left to be shown on smaller displays or on SDTVs instead. Fortunately, more and more content is being provided in the more desirable HD format.Nearly all TV broadcasts in the U.S. are now digital. This does not mean that all are HD. Tuning different channels should provide a mix of SD and HD signals. Typically, when an SD signal is displayed on a wide screen HDTV, the image will not fill the screen's width. Black or gray bars will border the left and right side of the image, or the image will be stretched horizontally to fill the screen. Conversely, when an HD signal has its resolution reduced (often called "downrezzed") for display on an SD screen, the black or gray bars will reside along the top and bottom of the image; or the left and right sides of the image will be


off so that the image will fill the screen without stretching and distortion. This is normal. The user will usually have an option to determine how to handle an image that doesn't fill the screen fully in either or both the TV or the source device set up menu. These settings are often called crop, zoom, stretch, etc. SD screens have 4:3 aspect ratio while all wide screen and vast majority of HD screens have a 16:9 aspect ratio.HD programs aren't limited to new TV shows or movies. In fact, TV shows and movies that were actually


(before the the use of video tape) are ideal candidates for display on an HDTV when they have been saved to and played on Blu-Ray disk or when broadcast. Resolution of film is substantially higher than even a 1080P HDTV signal, so odd as it may sound, movies and TV shows filmed 20, 30, 40 or more years ago look great on an HDTV.Sadly, the all of the "taped" TV shows (shows recorded after the time that they were shot on actual film - and before those that are now recorded new, HD video systems) are of poor quality when viewed and compared on an HDTV. Another visually low quality video is anything on VHS (or BetaMax for that matter) when displayed a large HDTV. It's better to watch VHS on a smaller CRT TV.WarningsThere are DVD players that will "up convert" standard DVDs. This will


the SD content on the DVD to fill an HD display - but the resulting images will not be HD quality. It is important not to confuse "upconversion" with HD.

The Microsoft Xbox 360 Game Console.


Microsoft Xbox 360'

s optical disc is a DVD player. It will not play Blu-ray discs. It can, however, play standard DVDs, as well as HD video downloaded, or stored on a DVD-ROM or USB flash drive. Microsoft at one time offered an optional external HD-DVD drive for the Xbox 360. Apart from that now discontinued accessory, existing standalone HD-DVD players, and the uncommon HD-DVD drives sold for use in computers, the HD-DVD format is practically obsolete.

Sony's PlayStation 3 Game Console. Sony includes a full featured, internet updatable Blu-ray drive in this game console.

The Sony Playstation 3's optical drive is a Blu-ray Disc player. It can play all HD video released on Blu-ray disc and like the Xbox 360, it can also play standard DVDs.There is no such thing as an "HDTV antenna". In most areas, the majority of HDTV signals are broadcast largely in the UHF band. Some congested areas may have a couple of stations broadcasting in the VHF band, too. The same UHF / VHF antennas used for the last 50+ years work the same for HDTV signals today. A replacement antenna with higher gain and / or reoriented at the broadcaster's transmitter however, may be needed. See Antenna Web for free, comprehensive help determining where to aim and which antenna is best for your location.An SD signal displayed on an HDTV will look worse than that same signal on an SDTV.Do not try to provide a greater resolution signal than the HDTV can accept. Additionally, pay attention to the display's ability to accept a progressive scan mode signal. Some displays can show 1080i modes, but not the 1080P. Limit the output of the device to a value equal to or lower than the HDTV can accept unless the HDTV manual indicates that it will automatically "downscale" (lowers the resolution) the signal.