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LCD TV and HD Buyer’s Guide

When watching high-definition on a HD LCD TV from Sharp – with 6.2 million sub pixels on display - colours look even richer, deeper and more true-to-life than ever before. Large-screen LCD TVs from most other manufacturers are only HD Ready, but Sharp is one of the few manufacturers to offer large screen LCD TVs with high-definition resolution. With a screen resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. Sharp's True HD sets manage to squeeze every last drop of detail from the picture, resulting in the most striking and captivating HD pictures around.

Are there different types of HD formats?

Yes. There are two high-definition formats widely used by broadcasters - 720p and 1080i. The number - 720 or 1080 - refers to the number of vertical lines that make up each picture frame, while the letter describes how those lines are displayed on screen. The 'p' stands for progressive, meaning that all of the lines are shown in one go. 1080i means the lines are interlaced – half the lines are shown, followed by the other half every fiftieth of a second.

Which type is best?

It depends on the type of material being displayed. Both offer jawdropping levels of detail, but progressive pictures are better for displaying fast-moving action, so 720p is preferable for sport. 1080i isn't as smooth, but it's better for material that requires a little more attention to detail, such as wildlife documentaries and arts programmes. It's down to the broadcaster to decide which format is appropriate.

How do I get high-definition?

There are two main ways: via satellite or cable, though you will need to subscribe to the specialist HD channels the satellite and cable companies provide. There are also two rival high-definition disc formats making their way to the UK - Blu-ray and HD DVD. You'll need a Blu-ray or HD DVD player to watch them though - the first players are due for launch later this year. You can also download high definition material from the internet, and the latest generation of hi-tech games consoles, also offer high definition picture quality.

Can I get HD through my rooftop aerial?

Not currently. Although it is possible to broadcast HD over Freeview, there isn't enough bandwidth to carry it. Trials have started, but it won't become widely available until the analogue TV signals are switched off in the year 2012. Current Freeview set-top boxes and integrated digital TVs won't be able to receive HD - you'll need to buy new equipment.

What type of TV do I need to watch HD?

LCD TVs are all capable of displaying high-definition, but traditional CRT sets aren't. Don't rush out and buy the first TV you see - make sure it sports the HD Ready badge.

What is 'screen resolution'?

In the age of high-definition, resolution is crucial. A LCD TV's screen is made up of millions of dots, or 'pixels'. A TV's resolution determines how much detail it can display, and is expressed in terms of the number of pixel columns by the number of pixel rows (e.g. 1,280 x 720).

What are the different types of screen resolution?

Common resolutions include 1,280 x 720, 1,366 x 768 and 1,920 x 1,080. If a screen has a resolution of less than 720 lines, then it's not suitable for high-definition. According to the HD Ready guidelines (see below) the minimum resolution a screen can have is 1,280 x 720.

What happens if the resolution of the HD programme doesn't match my screen's resolution?

LCD's resolution is fixed, meaning that if, for instance, a TV with 1,366 x 768-pixel resolution attempts to display a programme broadcast in the 1080i format, then the TV's internal technology has to convert the image to fit the screen. Don't worry, it's still hi-def, but you're not seeing the full 1080-line image as it was intended. Plus, if TV's processing isn't up to scratch then it can cause unwanted picture glitches.

So how can I get the full HD experience?

TVs with a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 are known as True or Full HD sets and are growing in number and popularity. They can display 1080i broadcasts without having to scale them down to a lower resolution - giving you the full HD experience. Sharp boasts a new five-strong range of True HD sets - its XD1E series all boast 1,920 x 1,080 resolution and are fully equipped to take you into the HD revolution.

What does HD Ready mean?

When you see this badge, it's a guarantee that the TV meets the minimum criteria needed to display HD. It was devised by the electronics industry and aims to eliminate confusion among consumers. All of the models in Sharp's GA and GD series of Aquos LCD TVs are HD Ready, and deliver unsurpassed picture quality.

Are all LCDs HD Ready?

No. Watch out for TVs that don't fulfil the HD Ready criteria, but label themselves as 'HD-compatible'.

Will a HD Ready TV display everything in high-definition?

No! This is a big misconception - your new HD Ready TV won't magically turn standard-definition into HD. If the source isn't high definition, your pictures won't be either. It's crucial that you feed it with a high-definition source.

I've heard about digital TV switchover. Is it related to high-definition?

Digital switchover refers to the Government's plans to switch off analogue TV broadcasts in this country and move everyone over to digital TV. It's being done region by region - from 2008 to 2012. That means everyone needs to get a TV or set-top box capable of receiving digital TV signals by 2012 . Look out for the Digital Tick logo (pictured), which you'll find on TVs, set-top boxes and recorders that offer integrated digital TV. Sharp's GD8E and GD9E series of LCD TVs are equipped with digital TV tuners, getting you ready for digital future. www.digitaluk.co.uk

Is the production of high definition TVs harmful to the environment?

Sharp is an environmentally friendly company and aims to produce LCDs that are energy efficient, to reduce the amount of materials used to make and package its products and to use materials that are easily recycled or reused. The company is committed to lowering household energy consumption and CO2 emissions in its manufacturing processes and by developing 'green' products that lower the burden on the environment. Sharp was one of the first LCD TV manufacturers to receive the Energy Trust's 'energy saving recommended' endorsement. Sharp's manufacturing plant in Kameyama, Japan, have set new standards in environmentally friendly production. It employs a series of recycling techniques - such as shipping TVs in protective packaging made from 100 per cent recyclable paper - and uses solar panels to illuminate the factory.

What is high-definition TV?

It's a TV format that contains up to five times more detail than the standard-definition TV that we're used to. The improvement in picture quality is staggering, the impact dramatic - just like the move from black and white TV to colour. It lets you see more than you've ever seen before, particularly when viewed on one of the latest Sharp Aquos LCD TVs.

How does it differ from the TV I watch now?

Standard-definition TV which you currently receive through your TV aerial is broadcast in a format known as PAL, with a picture made up of around 576 horizontal lines. High-definition pictures meanwhile are made up of 720 or 1,080 lines.

What are the benefits of High Definition?

Pictures look sharper, crisper and clearer than ever before. During football matches, you'll be able to pick out individual blades of grass. High-definition TV also puts the 'life' in wildlife, with nature documentaries looking more vivid and realistic than they ever did in standard definition.