back to article Consumers confused by HD

If you’ve bought an HD TV, but aren’t even considering buying a high definition disc player any time soon, then you’re not alone. A report by US market watcher NPD Group has revealed that consumers are still utterly confused by the HD message and that most are still happy with the traditional DVD format. Traxdata Blu-ray re- …


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  1. Tony Barnes

    Any other numbers..?

    Like the percentage of people who have bought an HD set, and are running an SD signal though it, yet boasting to their friends how much better it looks...??

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The only thing I am confused about...

    .... is why I would want to spend a bunch of money to watch the same crappy content in hi-def?

  3. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    The key "benefit" of both formats (of BD, of course, even more so than of HDDVD) is the Device and Title keys revocation.

    That means that someone somewhere has his finger on the OFF button of my player and on the ERASE button of my discs, which I supposedly have bought from them (supposedly, because I cannot really call a purchase with such a kevlar string attached a "purchase", sounds more like a lease in disguise to me).

    As long as they keep AACS I will not touch either format with a barge pole.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is one definite result

    The winner of the next generation format is [the gold envelope please Tabitha] - DVD!

  5. A J Stiles

    A HD-DVD, not An

    It's *a* haitch-dee-tee-vee, not *an* 'aitch-dee-tee-vee, dammit!

    Also, why have we apparently taken a *backward* step with our video connections? Television sets have for years had RGB inputs on the SCART socket. One connector, six pairs of wires (red, green, blue, timing and left and right audio). (Well, plus a few extras for mode switching, data comms and other esoterica.) And this works very well; even on my 70cm set there is a noticeable difference between the AV1 SCART with RGB and the AV2 SCART with only composite video (did I forget to mention? SCART degrades gracefully, so at least you always get a picture).

    Modern HD kit is using Y/R-Y/B-Y inputs, with separate plugs for each channel. Even if you don't worry about the problems that could be caused by a poor connection on one plug or the inadvertent transposition of two plugs (RH audio and R-Y have the same colour code!), RGB is the native format for both CRTs and LCD panels; Y/R-Y/B-Y must be processed through an analogue op-amp matrix.

  6. Adrian Brenes


    A J Stiles, sounds like you know more about this stuff than me. I will say though that the pronunciation of "H" is most definitely "aitch".

  7. Stinky Pete

    It's called ach-dee-im-eye

    Y/R-Y/B-Y inputs? Yeah - ok. Just use ONE wire. It's called ach-dee-im-eye fool.

  8. Mo

    The biggest source of confusion…

    …is probably whether a given HDTV is 720i, 720p, 1020i, 1020p, and which is better for viewing which types of content.

    Simply saying “HD ready” doesn't answer either of those questions to the average consumer.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ A HD-DVD, not An

    There's only one thing worse than a pedant, and that's a pedant who's just plain wrong. You embarrass all of us, A J Stiles.

  10. John PM Chappell

    Umm, nice try but...

    Whilst I agree with Stiles' comment about the number of connectors being a backwards step, in a sense, albeit to *potentially* deliver better sound and vision... he's clueless about primary school English. It's -an- HD-DVD without doubt and the letter is "aitch", just the one aitch.

    As for Stinky Pete, perhaps you meant "Aitch Dee Em Aye"

  11. Shane McCarrick

    Type of Hi-Def

    Mo- I agree with you- my head started spinning when 720i, 720p, 1020i and 1020p are discussed- never mind when the "upscaling of blah to blah" argument starts...... Between that and the format war between HD-DVD and Bluray- I tend to feel a terminal rage whenever I'm in a store selling this kit........

    I think Sony has an underplayed ace in its hand with the built-in Bluray player in the PS3- now that you can pick them up second hand with a couple of games for hundreds less than the retail price- the writing really is on the wall. Will I upgrade my DVD collection to Bluray- like hell..... damned if I can tell the difference between an DVD upscaled to 1020p and a Bluray disk.......

    What really confuses me- is does the "HD Ready" sticker on a tv indicate its a HD tv- or is it bull from the marketing department not worth the sticker its written on?

    Whatever about the engineers and their confusing formats- I'd really like to get the entire staff of the marketing departments out along a wall and tie them up with the longest HDMI cable I can find before I drop stupidly heavy kit on their heads and then stuff their mouths with styrofoam........


  12. Fluffykins Silver badge

    HD DVD or whatever

    Just like Digital TV.

    Loads of choice, excellent picture.

    Next to nothing worth choosing.

  13. Morely Dotes

    @ Stinky Pete


    HDMI is significantly more than "one wire;" furthermore, it is tied to the AACS Technology Users' Rights Denial System (aka "TURDS"); and if that weren't enough to keep you away from it, it's very pricey.

    Who's the bigger fool, the man who makes a point you can't understand, or the man who calls the technical writer (who happens to be correct) a fool?

  14. Ryan


    there is no 720i.

    and your 1020i and 1020p are actually 1080i and 1080p ;¬)

    even with just 720p, 1080i, and 1080p though, it's still confusing

  15. jimmy

    @the aitch man

    ok, people who say 'haitch' are very irritating and need to go back to school. it's 'aitch' and always has been.

    as for HD. i had a plasma for 3 years and couldn't see the benefit..........until i got my eyes tested and got glasses. They're now my HD-glasses.

    There's no point getting an HD telly unless it's 'full HD 1080p' which means it can actually display 1950x1080 pixels. 'HD ready' means nothing other than it's got an HD socket on the back. It's the pixels on the front that matter. Can't stress this enough.

    i did have a plasma that had 1024x768 pixels but luckily that got nicked by robbin' scallys and the insurance got me a 1950x1080 one in return. So i've had experience of an 'HD ready' TV and a 'full HD' TV. get the latter not the fomer.

    As for HD inputs. i went for a PS3/Bluray combo and sorry but i'm not paying £25-30 for a film i'll watch once so i'll be renting my blurays and installing linux soon and watching HD DIVX's.

    So in summary if you think a DVD at 720x576 is as good as a bluray at 1950x1080 then you've either got a crap TV or need your eyes testing.

  16. Johan Struwwelpeter

    What a load of bullcrap

    It is, get an RGB BNC Faroudja upscaler . And if they don't make them anymore go DIY, 1080p for everyone, arcane talk included .

  17. Sarah Baucom

    Jimmy - you are wrong

    First of all, your "full HD" doesn't exist yet. Stations are only broadcasting at 720p or 1080i, and each has its pros and cons (it's also 1920x1080, not 1950). Second of all, "HD Ready" doesn't mean is has an "HD socket on the back." What it means is that the TV can display an HD source, but it does not have an HD tuner built-in. Very few HDTVs have a tuner, since cable and satellite companies normally require their own boxes to be used anyway, and not many people get over-the-air HD with an antenna.

    I really doubt the replacement plasma TV you got was 1080p, since those cost about 2-3 times as much as 1080i plasmas, and 6 times as much as EDTV plasma screens (what you probably had before). Most likely it's 1080i.

    I do agree with you however on the quality difference between DVD quality and HD quality content. I don't have an HD player yet, since I'm waiting to see which one becomes the standard, but HD cable looks good enough that I'd rather watch a movie in HD with ads than on DVD without ads.

  18. yargnad

    @ John PM Chappell and the grammatically challenged

    I know the title sounds like the name of a new wave revival band, but take me seriously here for a sec. Umm, I seem to doubt your statement John. The word 'an' is used only when the word immediately following it begins with a vowel. Now since I was in grammar school(pun intended indeed) they may have changed the letter H to a vowel, yet I somehow highly doubt it. Let me know if I am in err....

  19. Christian Berger

    And the current winners are

    Well I wonder why people are still even talking about BR and HD-DVD. You cannot get any equipment, you cannot get movies and the quality is just about what you can get from television.

    The true winners are HDV and HDCAM. Both formats are already established on the market. HDCAM is normal priced, perhaps a bit on the expensive side, but HDV is _extremely_ cheap.

    I guess HDV even has the potential to start a revolution. It's the first time you can get decent VCRs for less than 3000 Euros.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HD is

    Overhyped, overpriced and overrated.

    For most of us that cannot afford (or have room for) zonking great 50' plasma screens, Sky HD and Blu-Ray players, it's a complete non-starter at present.

    And the Demos I've seen of Sky HD in Currys have been less than impressive. Nasty compression artefacts everywhere that appeared even more obvious than they do on their SD service.

  21. Peter

    @ John PM Chappell and the grammatically challenged

    Nope, John is right. Comes from the French influence on the English language (hence l'hopital, l'hotel de ville, etc)

  22. Adam Onesti

    ....and we're supposed to know this stuff...

    Sarah, full HD does exist, on Blu Ray and HD DVD disks running at 1080p... TV channels though don't broadcast at this rate.

    As for difference in picture, I've got a PS3 and HD TV and I personally cannot tell the difference between a Blu Ray film and an upscaled DVD. You can see the difference between a Blu Ray/Upscaled DVD and an SD DVD though. Then again I've got a crappy 27" LCD which only goes to 720p so...

    As for H's, yargnad, you are correct a "an" is used to preceding a word beginning with a vowel, but it is also used in a number of smaller cases preceding a word beginning with another letter. H for example. Like in "an historic event", the H is silent and historic should be pronounced 'istoric.

  23. Rich Silver badge

    Sarah - You are wrong!

    I'm sorry, but you are wrong to say that Jimmy is wrong.

    "HD Ready" DOES mean it's got a HD (ie - HDMI) socket on the back. The display itself is NOT HD. The HD signal is scaled appropriately to fit the display. The only reasons a "HD Ready" telly generally doesn't have a HD tuner because (a) it's an expensive component and (b) it's not necessary in order to con the public into buying your "HD Ready" telly.

    A "HD Ready" telly will still give you a better picture than a SD telly, but "HD Ready" is one of the biggest marketing cons to come out of the consumer electronics industry in years.

    You ARE right in that because of bandwidth issues, broadcast HD is only 1080i (at least for the foreseeable future), which means you STILL won't get the quality that "1080 HD" would suggest.

  24. Rob Mossop

    The H debate

    Well I've always understood it to be relevant to how the spoken word is formed in combination with the indefinite article rather than anything to do with they way you write things down. Basically the new wave revival guy is half way there, it's not a function of how it's spelled, but how it's spoken though. If you sound the word after the indefinite article with a vowel sound, then it (the indefinite article) should be 'an', otherwise it should be 'a'

    In other words if you say 'an istory' (an history) then you should write it as 'an history'. However, if like the rest of the world you say 'a history', then that is exactly what you should write. Most people would find saying 'a HD-DVD' difficult unless they pronounce their h's as 'haitch'. Most people use a 'vowel sounding' pronunciation of h, 'aitch', and therefore say 'an HD-DVD' and so should write 'an HD-DVD'. Essentially it's more about convenience of pronunciation in regular speech than it is about the way the word is actually written down.

    Anyway, enough from me, if it bothers you that much then go and shout at the experts:

    Besides which it's Friday and we're in a country with 24hr drinking - why aren't we having this discussion at a pub?

  25. Brian Miller

    @@John PM...

    Actually, in written english an H is immediately preceded by an "an" as opposed to an "a". This is the exception that proves the rule, so to speak. You obviously didn't pay enough attention at your grammar school Yargnad. Also your name/title is not capitalised, as it should be, if you want to go around correcting peoples english I suggest you do not make errors yourself.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is correct, the written form of H is not a vowel, however, some low born peasant types :) drop their H's and make it into a phonetic vowel. If this is the case then it is acceptable to use 'an H' in speech.

    However, in primary school english surprisingly, i was taught that written english should always be done properly, despite regional accents and variations. So, in my case, I would write 'a HD-TV', but would say it as 'an HD-TV'. I would only write 'an HD-TV' if i was writing it the way it was spoken, ie a quote/character line.

    On the IT front, I am interested in HD-DVD/blu-ray as i can see the limitations in current dvds, even on my 1024*768 projector. but until i actually get a HD-TV and a format is settled on (HD-DVD preferably as it has a far more sensible name) I won't be making the switch

  27. Joe Blogs

    @yargnad - yes you are in err....

    a hour or an hour?

    a honour or an honour?

  28. Robert Hirst

    from the pen of a grammatically challenged person

    I think it's an honour that an honest person came along within an hour has correctly pointed out that an h should never have "an" in front of it.

  29. Mark

    Point Proven

    I think most of the comments on this article prove the point that consumers are confused about HD. Thing is at the moment it is a very confusing subject.

    Hopefully this will settle down over the next couple of years but the format war is certainly not helping.

  30. alistair millington


    You are in error, H is the only none vowel to have the 'an' applied in certain circumstances (you then go into rules of pronouns and all that which I can't remember) and if I remember my schooling there was a couple of words that started with another letter but only a couple of words under that letter which I can't remember.

    It is correct English to say *h*aitch but how many know correct english?

    HDDVD would be great if flims were worth it nowadays. Nothing worthy of upgrading my DVD collection, not to mention the price tags for the hardware.

  31. Richard Scratcher

    Back to Sesame St?

    The English name of the letter H does not begin with an H in the same way that the English name for W is not Wubbleyou.

    The English names of the letters A, E, F, H, I, L, M, N, O, R, S and X all begin with vowels.

    Matching letter names to their sounds is used as a learning aid for small children, which they are expected to grow out of. Carrying this into adulthood makes you sound like "a ass, a idiot".

    I'd like a NTSC television with a LCD screen, a RGB interface, a S-video socket and a HDMI input.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ yargnad

    An is used before a word which commences with a vowel /sound/. When was the last time you heard someone use 'an user', for instance?

  33. David Shaw

    Watching Sky (italy) HD TV....

    via HDMI with a Sony STR-DA1200ES 7.1 dolby amp with optical digital audio....

    the 720p HD films are OK, except for the seemingly random delay between mouths opening and hearing the speech or vice-versa!

    I realise that I'm using HDMI version 1.2 technology, but the end result is crap! and from what I understand about the auto-synch that may be possible with an HDMI (akkah-dee-emm-ee in Italian) V1.3 , it's that the status is "AUTOSYNCH MAY BE POSSIBLE" it's not actually guaranteed!

    when I watch 720p .avi files torrented to my Mac Mini HTPC and DVI input to the TV, I get extremely good lip-synch.

    it really does confirm that the hdcp/hdmi/hdtv isn't actually a mature and useable technology yet, god help us when we're supposed to pay for and watch 1080 program material. 'Research' says that 50% of TV viewers don't overtly notice the a/v delay , so half the population won't realise why they're getting an HDTV headache!

    (Yes, I've played around with the sky digibox arsetunnel audio delay setting, and with the much better Sony Amp settings , but the audio-video synchronisation seems to vary with the Tides or the wind...)

  34. Rich Silver badge

    Sarah - You are wrong!

    I'm sorry, but you are wrong to say that Jimmy is wrong.

    "HD Ready" DOES mean it's got a HD (ie - HDMI) socket on the back. The display itself is NOT HD. The HD signal is scaled appropriately to fit the display. The only reasons a "HD Ready" telly generally doesn't have a HD tuner because (a) it's an expensive component and (b) it's not necessary in order to con the public into buying your "HD Ready" telly.

    A "HD Ready" telly will still give you a better picture than a SD telly, but "HD Ready" is one of the biggest marketing cons to come out of the consumer electronics industry in years.

    You ARE right in that because of bandwidth issues, broadcast HD is only 1080i (at least for the foreseeable future), which means you STILL won't get the quality that "1080 HD" would suggest.

  35. Brendan Weir

    @All the pedants

    "I want a Joovce doovde and a Joovce lucuda tuv with the hud"

    Thank you Fonejacker

  36. jimmy

    @sarah Baucom

    sorry yes it is 1920x1080. i was wrong.

    my point was that an 'HD ready' TV can accept an HD signal but then there are no specifications to say what it does with that signal. it may only have 2x2 pixels on the front screen but it can still accept an HD signal and is therefore 'HD ready'.

    as for upscaling before it gets to your TV. what's the point in that? exactly what do people think a TV does with a 720x576 DVD signal when it displays it in full screen at 1080i or whatever. it has to, by definition, upscale it itself otherwise it wouldn't be full screen (it'd be a small box at the centre of the screen). upscaling DVD players are a gimic. i know cause i had one and it made no difference at all. even TV manufacturers admit this.

    My TV is 'full HD' it's a panasonic pz700 42inch. the old one was a pioneer pdp434. go look em up if you wish. the old pioneer was twice the price of the panasonic (prices in plasmas have dropped dramatically in 3 years).

    as for tuners. most TVs have freeview tuners which are definately not HD. HD cable and sky is brodcast at 1080i (1920x1080 interlaced). playstation 3 games are 720p (1368x720). bluray players are 1080p (1920x1080) and HDVDs are 1080i i think but i have no experience of those. xbox 360 is 1080i.

    so the only items i know that use 'full hd' are PS3s and Bluray players and possible the odd HDDVD player. but remember to run anything at proper 1080i you still need the 1920x1080 pixels. if your TV doesn't have that many pixels then there's absolutely no point in using that mode.

  37. Antony King

    @yargnad re vowels

    It's truly an honour to hear such expert gramatical advice. Oh, hang on...

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Less crap comments please

    Please take the comment about spelling/pronunciation/whatever elsewhere, this is supposed to be about the technology, which is difficult enough to follow without all the irrelevant crap.

  39. Iain


    Where did Christian Berger come from; 2005? There are plenty of HD-DVD and Blu Ray players. What is more, they cost rather significantly less than 3000 Euros; Amazon France lists the Toshiba HD-E1 at around 300 Euros, for example.

    As for any perceived lack of films, get them from the US - HD-DVD is region-free, and many Blu-Ray titles are as well. Sure, there aren't quite as many as DVD's decade-long list, but it's vastly better than where we were at the same point in DVD's lifecycle, as rubbish like Lost In Space in my collection will attest.

    FInally, if you can tell me with a straight face that your TV broadcasts look as good as HD-DVD and BluRay then you need either a new TV or new glasses.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yep...people are confused....

    By just the letter 'H', what hope have they got when you put a D at the end of it?

  41. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    A few observations about HD

    Use LCD screens, not plasma, unless your screen will only be used as a part of home cinema, in which case make sure you NEVER watch any news or TV channel on it - you will get the logos hard burned on your screen in a matter of days.

    If you want to buy an HD screen now - definitely go for 1920x1080 as that will gurantee it will be at least somewhat future-proof. Drop a screen size, if necessary, to fit into budget but get 1080 horizontal lines set.

    Be prepared to see that SD broadcast will look not very good on your screen but most screens will let you tweak the image (NR etc) to make it more or less acceptable.

    DVDs connected with RGB or component will generally look quite nice, but depends on quality of encoding as cheap encoding artefacts will be quite visible.

    DVDs played on a decent upconverting player connected with HDMI/DVI will likely look very good if they are well encoded or worse than with RGB/YCbCr if they are HalfD1 or poorly encoded. However some DVDs will look better at 720p, some at 1080i or p.

    Usually, upconverting DVD players have better quality scalers than TV screens.

    None of the above ways to play DVDs will be comparable with native HD recording on HD-DVD or BD if, repeat IF, the transfer was done in HD throughout. If the transfer was made from an SD copy - that will not be better than DVD player with upscaler.

    However, DVDs and DVD players are irrevocably yours once you bought them. HDDVD and BD (both discs and players) are NOT yours - they can be disabled at the whim of the AACS licensing authority.

    So, if you enjoy being dependant on someones favourable disposition every time you insert a new disc into your player - go ahead and buy them. After all that's what our kids do - they ask permission.

    But be prepared to have to ask a responsible adult every time you want to watch some entertainment. Be also prepared to him saying NO if he thinks you were being naughty.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ae people confused?

    It isn't as if anyone buying a widescreen LCD TV has much choice. Just about all are HD ready sets nowadays.

  43. Bill Coleman


    I know that IT nerds tend to disagree with eachother just for shits and giggles, but when there are 40 posts by 40 different supposedly IT savvy reg readers all disagreeing with eachother you know there is something wrong. All the manufacturers have tried to own the entire pie rather than taking a slice - so the end result was 50 different pies and a lot of confused consumers. The one constant in this thread, and something I agree with, is that until is all sorted out 100% with no confusion we'll all be watching DVDs.

  44. jimmy

    HD observations

    i've never had problems with screen burn. but then i turn the contrast right down and turn it up for films and games only. Girlfriends don't notice. They only notice volume for some reason.

    As for upscalers as long as you're using HDMI or component for your DVD player hookup then 576p looks no different to 720p or 1080p (you will lose info and it will look worse at 1080i) on most TVs. most TVs internal upscalers are just as good as DVD player upscalers.

    some upscalers are slightly better than others but since it seems (from reading these comments) most people can't tell the difference between DVD and bluray/HDDVD anyway the difference is so slight that there's no point. but it really depends on what equipment you own.

    Yes SD broadcasts look crap these days. my theory on this is;

    1) the bit rate is mostly pretty poor. infact, compare freview to analogue and you see that analogue is a better signal by far. digital TV is a step backwards in terms of image quality.


    2) TVs are so bloody big these days that ballooning up the image so much is bound to cause these problems. step back a few metres and the image looks as good as it used to (and takes up the same area on your retina as it used to) ie big tvs are just showing you what an inferior pile of crap we've been watching for the past 30 years.

    3) mpeg noise reduction can help with this but it's really just polishing a turd as they say.

  45. El Brad

    You can count on "HD Ready"

    Ironically, the only thing that's not confusing is "HD Ready."

    It means "not HD."

    We have a 50" 'not HD' telly at work. Strangely, it's brilliant for displaying computer desktops, but video is terrible. It doesn't matter if it's TV or DVD or even played on the computer, it's atrocious. We just try not to use it for video.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I've got a 32" CRT which gives nice pictures on SD TV, DVD etc.

    Am I correct in thinking that I will see no improvement by buying a plasma or LCD HD or HD ready TV, at least for the (longish) period during which I have no HD source?


  47. jimmy


    Well that really depends on what you watch. but generally your are correct. CRTs (esp. the 100Hz models) have a much quicker response time than LCD or plasma. My 3 year old plasma was great for still pictures but when it came to movement it was terrible. credits at the end of programs were unreadable for example. football is another example where it fell down. My new 1080p plasma is much better but still not as good as a CRT. my supposedly '100 Hz' LCD by sony is no better either. plasma is better than LCD in that respect.

    however if you're running a DVD player via anything other than component or hdmi then you will notice a significant difference in picture quality just by using these. virtually all TVs now come with HDMI and component inputs. older TVs do not.

    And another marketing trick the idiotic manufacturers have started doing:

    my sony 1368x720 pixel LCD is apparently a '3 mega pixel' display according to the sony crap that came with it. well using my maths i get just over one million pixels. obviously they've taken one pixel to be 3 (as in red, green and blue). it'd be a very clever screen indeed if it could use all those independently.

    they really are very good at confusing people

  48. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Re: CRT & @Jimmy

    re: CRT

    If your CRT TV works OK and the screen size is sufficient for you - I see no reason to change. For the same screen size the image quality of DVD played on LCD or plasma will probably be worse than CRT, definitely not better.

    @Jimmy - LCDs were traditionally behind plasmas on screen response time and contrast but in the last year or so they caught up. SONY's new Bravia LCD screens now perform not worse than plasmas - additionally they don't have the screen burn issues.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What people are forgetting is buying a 1080 (i or p) display is not enough if viewing a 1080p source - your display must be capable of accepting a 1080 picture at 24 fps,which most TVs as yet are not!

    This leads to revolting judder artefacts during panning scenes with blu ray for example, as the source tries to convert the frame rate with pulldown technique. Eeeurgh!

    Appy days eh? :)


  50. Rich

    Going to wait for maturity

    The whole HD industry hasnt even begun to mature yet. Only Sky at the moment has adopted 2 broadcasting standards allowing viewers to choose, 720p/50 and 1080i/25. I dont think BT/BBC knows what they are doing yet.

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