HDTV-Buyers-Guide: Know Before You Go

HDTV-Buyers-Guide: Know Before You Go (by HDTVinfoport)

This HDTV Buyers Guide covers the key points of High Definition TV that non-tech consumers need to know, before going to the store.

Let's be Clear - HDTV is NOT your Grandfathers' television! High Definition TV is the doorway to an awesome, new dimension. Once you see HDTV, you'll want it. And you know you have seen it when your immediate response is, "W O W!" But how do you navigate through this complex realm of digital technology? What do you need to know before you buy? The HDTV Buyers Guide summarizes important features of High Definition Television so you are aware of details to be considered.

However, this is just a starting place. For more in-depth discussion of HDTV attributes, a look at the 'pros' - yes, and the 'cons' - refer to additional articles that explore this awsome technology.

HDTV-Buyers-Guide: Key elements, components and features of High-Definition-Digital Television.

Integrated HDTV

A Complete High-Definition TV System: The HD-Tuner is built-in. It comes with a 'mega-dollar' price tag, but convenient if price is no object. Just connect it to a High Definition broadcast source, and enjoy HDTV!

'HDTV-Capable' or 'HDTV-Ready'

Generally more affordable, these TV sets (often called Monitors) can display both NTSC (National Television Standards Committee) 'analog' signals and ATSC (Advanced Television Standards Committee) 'digital' signals... BUT - It requires an external, High Definition Tuner (Set Top Box - STB) to receive and display HDTV programs. Be sure you verify that the HD Tuner is compatible with the HD set you are purchasing, as well as the 'direct broadcast service' (DBS) (Satellite/Cable) you expect to use, and is also capable of receiving Over-The-Air (OTA) broadcasts.

HDTV-Buyers-Guide Special Alert: "Digital Ready" and "HDTV-READY" do NOT necessarily mean the TV will receive and display digital "High Definition" television programs - Be sure you verify that the set you are considering will indeed display true HDTV.

Screen Size

While screen size is a personal preference, in general, the larger the display, the more HDTV excels! Compare the different displays and select the size that best fits your space requirements and meets your personal needs.

Monitor Display Type

Direct View (Traditional Tube Set): Sizes range from approximately 30" to 40". Projection (Rear or Front): Sizes range from approximately 40" to 70". Wide Screen (16:9 ratio): Consider the Wide Screen if most of your viewing will be High Definition Programming. Traditional Square Screen (4:3 ratio): Preferable if most viewing will be standard (NTSC) analog TV.


The ATSC Standard for High Definition Television requires a resolution of 1080 interlaced lines, or 720 progressive scan lines. Verify the set you choose is capable of converting (up/down) all signals to the "native" resolution of your set.


Don't overlook the audio system; the Standard for HDTV is "Dolby A3" (5.1 Channel Surround Sound). However, at the present time, many manufacturers feature their own proprietary audio system. While many of these produce a quality audio-experience (sound), to get the maximum enjoyment from your system, the "Dolby-A3 Surround Audio" should be your First choice.


Choose a model that offers the Most Ports, with the Widest Selection of Connector Types. Also check for additional Front Ports - a real convenience. And remember - You can Not have too many ports!

HD Tuner - (aka: Set-Top-Box - 'STB'; HDTV Receiver; Decoder)

Verify that the Tuner or STB you're buying is compatible with the HDTV Set you will be buying, as well as the DTS ("Direct TV Service" - Satellite/Cable) you subscribe to, and that it is capable of receiving OTA (off-air) Broadcasts. Some STB's exclusive to both of the Digital Satellite Services, as well as independent - 'stand alone' - units. Cable subscribers will need to check with their Cable Company for information regarding compatibility with their cable Set-Top-Box.

Important Note: The HDTV-Buyers-Guide is a quick over-view of HDTV basics that consumers need to consider. More in-depth information on topics mentioned in the HDTV-Buyers-Guide, can be found in additional "info-articles" on the HDTV-Info-Port Site at www.hdtvinfoport.com, or through Links to "Recommended Resources".

Additional Items to consider: These are listed as questions you should ask... the answers will vary depending on your indiviual circumstances - what model you are looking at, where you live, what other components you may have, etc.

Ask the following questions BEFORE you make a purchase - if you cannot get satisfactory answers (meaning YOU'RE satisfied - and confident the information is reliable) from the sales associate, find out from another source. Use caution before buying any HDTV components if you have unanswered questions.

  1. Will you need any 'add-on' components? For instance - Does your HD-Tuner require an Add-On Module (8VSB) to receive OTA Broadcast?
  2. Do you need to buy a special "dish" for your satellite service?
  3. Do you need additional or special Connecting Cables?
  4. Are the all cables included, compatible with all your audio-video components?
  5. Do you have a 'surge protector' - what type is recommended?
  6. What type of External Antenna do you need for OTA Broadcasts in your area?
  7. Is Delivery/Set Up Included? (Especially important for the 'big-screen' projection sets)
  8. Check for In-Home Maintenance/Tune Up Contract? (May be an important consideration for Large Projector Systems that require periodic adjustments)

HDTV-Buyers-Guide Special Reminder ... Be sure that the HDTV System you choose will work with all your other audio-video components: VCR; DVD; Video Game; Sound System, etc.