Modern Times
The continously changing quality of television is an intersting phenomena. Most European countries plan, develop or already introduce high quality television systems. The current quality standard is called HDTV (Full HD 1080p) and is a standard for digital audio/video signal. This quality can be delivered used special equipment. This short post gives a little overview about the subject.

The Screen

In order to view the beautiful pictures delivered from the source, you need a TV set. In my childhood we had a monochrome Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) TV set, a huge box, incredible heavy, full of electrical components. Produced in Russia, its handle broke and we had nippers near the TV set in order to switch the channels (they were switched by rotating the handle). The next TV set we had could reproduce color but had approximately 12″ screen size. Its channels could be switched using small buttons. In the nineties, the time of big CRTs begun. A normal person could effort a 30″ CRT and of course it had a remote control. I saw my first plasma screen on an exhibition in Germany – I was thrilled by its relative small depth in comparison to a CRT. But the plasma screens of the nineties were heavy, consumed about 400W and had about 8 fans, which were pretty loud. Finally, the time of LCDs began and now the technology seem to be one of the main technologies in the market of TV sets. It is difficult to find a store selling CRTs in Germany.
A LCD screen has several parameters. Some of them are just attempts of vendors to deliver technology to the market before it is really ready. A good example of this is contrast ratio: in fact no sane person want to know what contrast ratio is delivered by the TV screen, it should be just enough. Other parameters are saying something about the quality of the picture you can see e.g. the resolution of the screen. The resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels is the most common resolution of current Full HD (1080p) TV screens.

Source of Recorded Video

After everyone bought hundreds of movies on the Video Home System (VHS) cassetes, the industry changed the technology from a tape to a disc. The Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) killed the VHS during a decade in order to be killed by the new standard called Blue Ray Disc (BD). To explain the difference in one sentence: DVD delivers only PAL quality (576p, or 576 lines), BD delivers 1080p (1080 lines). A remarkeable difference, but not all movies profit from a higher quality. So take a chance to buy old movies, where the higher resolution doesn’t play a role on DVD, before you have to pay for an expensive BD.

Source of Broadcasted Video

In addition to high quality recorded video source, you can receve a broadcast program. In old days, the television broadcast was analog. Since two years, the analog broadcast is being scaled back in Germany and is being replaced by the Digital Video Broadcast-Terrestical standard (DVB-T). Current DVB-T standard is not designed to deliver HDTV, but eventually it will be replaced by DVB-T2. There are two other ways to deliver the video program: cable or satellite. The corresponding standards are called DVB-S (for Satellite) and DVB-C (Cable). Both standards can deliver digital pictures in HDTV (1080p). Most offers of channels in HDTV are encoded and not free. Still, there is a reason for fees that every German having a TV set has to pay: the public channels ARD and ZDF will be transmitted in HDTV starting in 2010, arte broadcasts the HDTV already, since the middle of 2008.

The Sound

In order to complete the high-quality cinema-like felling in the living room, the sound system should support something like 5.1 dolby surround. This inlcludes a set of four boxes, a center loudspeaker, a subwoofer and an dolby-surround amplifier.

Conclusion

I watched a wonderful movie on arte tonight. The beautiful pictures deliverd by a Full HD 1080p screen and the nice music from processed by the complex logic of the digital amplifier. It was Charlie Chaplins’ “Modern Times”, created by his genious in 1936 in USA: a restored black-white silent movie. A real masterpiece…

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