High definition is one of the biggest trends sweeping the TV world this year, exceeding many people’s expectations. Why are audiences so keen to snap up HD technology?

With the digital revolution encompassing ever more aspects of modern life, it was only a matter of time before TVs took on many of the advantages of home computers. For years, people with standard definition TVs, even those with modern plasma screens, have found themselves frustrated at the comparative lack of quality compared to their computer desktops, which tended to be capable of handling much higher resolutions with no picture loss.

Who wants to watch films sitting at their computer desk? By eliminating many of the faults of standard definition — such as ghost images caused by traditional interlaced scanning, as opposed to more clearly defined progressive scanning — HD television has finally brought the crystal clear resolution of desktop monitors into the living room, allowing viewers to enjoy their favourite TV shows and movies from their armchairs, without being distracted by image faults or lower quality.

Depending on the model, HD TVs boast at least twice the resolution of standard definition, though in many cases the factor is much, much greater. In fact, many HD sets exceed five times the picture quality of SD, with one or two million pixels in each frame. There is an increasing number of channels broadcasting in HD to cater for everyone’s tastes, and all benefit in unique ways — from allowing viewers to get even closer to nature on wildlife documentaries to ensuring they don’t miss any of the action in a football match.

The default 16:9 aspect ratio of HD TV also means there are no longer issues with altering, stretching or squashing images to fit a widescreen frame; anyone with a HD box will be able to watch the latest films with no discernable difference in image quality than they could enjoy in the cinema. That’s not to mention the digital stereo sound that sounds more impressive than ever in high definition.

High definition is not only bringing our TVs and computers closer together — with technology such as USB players allowing us to play downloaded films on our TV — but the resolution and frame rate of HD TV also mean that the differences between regions are becoming less pronounced, meaning terms such as PAL and NTSC are no longer relevant in distinguishing between European and American sets.

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