Introduction to HD

HD from 480p (DVD) to 1080p (Full HD)

What is HD ?

The actual PAL / SECAM resolution is 720 x 576 pixels, for 4/3 like 16/9. If the source outputs an interlaced picture a.k.a. half frames, we are talking about a resolution of 576i (i for interlaced), against 576p for a progressive signal, in full frames. At 576p its 415 Kpixels that will be displayed simultaneously. Half only: 207 Kpixels at 576i (interlaced).

NTSC works with a bigger number of pictures per seconds, 30 instead of 25, but with a smaller resolution: 538 x 480 pixels in 4/3, 720 x 480 in 16/9. The 480p of movies include “at best/max” 346 Kpixels.

Jumping to HD is in fact nothing else than improving the picture definition. 4 HD modes already exist and you can get an overview of them through the following presentation like a movie trailer on Apple’s Site or demonstration movies on Microsoft’s Site.

  • 720i, 1280 x 720 pixels = 16/9 = 922 Kpixels. First HD resolution but still interlaced. By chance, this format should not be used frequently, the media will more likely be displayed using the next one:
  • 720p: still in 1280 x 720 pixels, 922 Kpixels, but full frames now! The picture’s quality and movement is better, contrast and depth also. It is the main format for TV Channel in HD.
  • 1080i: Here we are leaving HD for a jump into full HD, with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels = 2 Mpixels. It’s still an interlaced signal and picture quality compared to 720p is not necessary better. Professional’s view on it say that movies are a bit better on 1080i than 720p, but games are better at 720p than 1080i. Anyway, the true HD, the one that everybody wants is the higher level, its:
  • 1080p: 1920 x 1080 pixels, 2 Mpixels in full frames. If your display and your source is compatible, it is the ultimate picture quality, what we call the “Visual Fury” simply kicking ass.

If it goes, here is how it would look on a QuickTime HD movie trailer :
(Here you can get an idea of the original picture and the definition improvement)

Here are 3 screenshots without any resizing of the above pictures in 480p/720p/1080p

480p 720p 1080p

These screenshots do not represent the real quality that will be displayed.
In fact, those pictures will be processed and up-scaled or down-scaled in order to match different displays: big screen, small screen, projector…

1080p a.k.a. FULL HD is the ultimate picture quality you can get from a HDMI source such as HD-DVD player, Blu-Ray player, Playstation 3, Xbox360 HDMI

  • Using a PS3, X360 Elite or Blu-Ray/HD-DVD player without using its true capacity would end to frustration.
  • The HD and Next Gen jump is only an improved picture quality through an improved definition.
  • Without its definition Blu-Ray/HD-DVD picture quality is in no way better than DVD
  • Without its definition PS3/X360 Elite games aren’t really better than PS2/XBOX games.

You may think..
No problem I have a display which can support 720p or 1080p”.
I have no HD TV, but I can still hook up my PS3 to my RGB monitor

If that’s your case, you just forgot a small detail, the name is HDCP.

Even if your CRT monitor, LCD display, Plasma display, Projector is technically able to display 1280×720 or 1920×1080 picture resolution you won’t be able to display ANYTHING in such resolutions, BLACK SCREEN.

If you purchased a Playstation 3, X360 Elite, HD-DVD player, Blu-ray player, SAT&Cable HDTV channels set-top-box, you won’t be able to display anything in 720p or 1080p on your “old” display because it’s not HDCP compliant.

You have 3 choices:

  1. Buy a brand new TV/display/monitor which is HDMI/HDCP compliant
  2. Use your expensive Blu-ray/HD-DVD or PS3/X360 Elite with no real quality improvement compared to DVD or Previous generation gaming system.
  3. Read more and get a solution

“Hollywood’s plans for Blu-Ray and HD-DVD (HDMI/HDCP) are an outrageous attack on your freedom. Business conspiracies to restrict technology should be illegal.”