Which LCD TV is Best for You?

High-definition programming requires a large amount of data to be broadcast over the air-waves when compared to ordinary standard definition LCD TV. Digital television differs from analogue television because it uses the available bandwidth more efficiently, making it far more economical to broadcast high-definition television pictures. The amount of bandwidth required to broadcast analogue standard definition TV is similar to the bandwidth used to broadcast high-definition pictures.

Since you are now able to receive much more data through your aerial, satellite dish or cable, you will want to make the best use of it by getting yourself a more capable LCD television. When choosing which LCD TV is best for you there are many things to consider, some of the main issues to check are discussed below.

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What is a HD Ready TV?

Free LCD TV - HD Ready TV.

A HD Ready television set is just a LCD TV which is capable of displaying high-definition programmes. It still requires a tuner capable of feeding a high-definition picture to the television. Currently, in the UK there aren't many HDTVs if any at all, with a built in tuner capable of decoding hi-def programming. There are many sets which contain a standard definition digital tuner (Freeview) as well as the ubiquitous analogue tuner.

However, there are several plans to change this situation. Ofcom has unveiled plans to broadcast a few hi-def channels on Freeview, this will require new tuners and set-top boxes to work. With the launch of Freesat in the UK, several manufacturers have announced plans to include Freesat HD tuners in their LCD television sets.

What's the Difference Between 1080i and 1080p?

The i means interlaced and p means progressive. Interlaced means that only half the lines which make up the picture on your LCD TV are refreshed at a time. Progressive refreshes all the lines at the same time, in this case the 1080 pixels instead of 540 pixels with 1080i.

So progressive requires twice as much data as interlace to form the picture each time it refreshes. This means that broadcasters are less likely to take advantage of 1080p as it requires twice the bandwidth, so increasing their broadcasting costs. Instead broadcasters use the 720p as well as 1080i.

Even though 720p has less lines of information, it can sometimes be preferable to 1080i to produce the best possible picture. If sport or programmes with a lot of action are being shown, it is better to use 720p as the movement will be more fluid since all the lines of data are being refreshed at the same time.

Broadcasters in the future will probably find a way to take more advantage of 1080p, but until then you will have to make do with Blu Ray since it is the only thing currently that has enough storage space to utilise 1080p.

HD Set-top Boxes

Previously, the main ways of receiving high-definition images on your HD Ready LCD TV was through a set-top box connected to either a satellite dish or underground cable, but now you can get HD channels via your aerial thanks to Freeview HD. Freeview HD is being rolled out across the UK, normally at the same time as digital switch over and will feature BBC HD and ITV HD at first with Channel 4/S4C and Five arriving later.

At the time of writing there aren't actually any Freeview HD set top boxes available but it is expected that the initial boxes will cost around 170 with the price being reduced quickly as they become more popular. If you currently receive Freeview you won't need to upgrade your aerial to recieve Freeview HD and there are plans for a fifth HD channel to become possible in the future. See Freeview HD for more information.

Currently, the most common way of viewing HD is with a Sky HD box which will cost you from 150. Without a with Sky HD subscription you will currently receive three free-to-air channels (BBCHD, Channel4HD and LuxeHD).

With an extra Sky HD subscription you could receive at least 37 additional channels dependent on your level of subscription. If you have the Sky Sports Mix you will get Sky Sports HD1, HD2 and HD3 aswell. If you have Sky Movies Mix you also get Sky Movies Screen 1 HD, Sky Movies Premiere HD and Screen 2 HD. With Sky Movies 1 you get Sky Movies Screen 1 HD and with Sky Movies 2 you receive Sky Movies Screen 2 HD also. In order to get these HD channels, which ever package you have you will need the HD Mix which is currently 10 extra per month.

Free LCD TV - Freesat HD box.

Freesat HD boxes cost from 100 and if you already have a satellite dish (which was previously used for Sky) you can just connect it up to the existing satellite cable. Currently you will receive three channels for free, BBCHD, ITVHD and LuxeHD, with Channel4HD expected at some point in the future.

Cable provider Virgin Media currently has 7 HD channels including BBCHD, Channel 4, Living HD and ESPN . It will cost you 75 installation charge plus V+ subscription to receive the Virgin Media HD service.

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