HDTV 2010: HDTV to the nth degree
By The Vann’s Editorial Team
Last revised August 24th, 2010
If you’re overwhelmed by the new 3D hype, take heart. Just think of 3D as the icing on the HDTV cake. Sure the cutting-edge technology for 2010 may support 3D, but it also provides the best technology, even beyond the video display, to ever come down the production line. So without further ado, let’s take a look at what’s new for 2010:
Will the real home theater please stand up?
The tremendous video processing available in 3D TVs is simply amazing, creating, for the first time ever, a bone fide theater experience for the home. And it isn’t just amazing for 3D content. Multi-tasking chips capable of providing full-screen, full color high resolution 3D format and perfectly calibrated 3D depth are also equally capable of providing the smoothest video upscaling, faster speed, greater resolution, and even real-time processing of 2D images into 3D. Take a look at what television manufacturers have to offer for 2010.
If the phrase “apps” (slang for mobile applications) hasn’t hit your ears yet, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. Apps are convenience features that take convenience to a whole new level. Initially, they were geared towards mobile devices, but they’re making their way into home entertainment systems too. Imagine using your iPhone to change the channel on your TV? We’re not joking around here. Indeed, everyone is on the app bandwagon — you can program your iPhone to act as a universal remote for your TV. This may be an extreme example—extremely cool, that is—but it’s a shining example of how technology is blurring the lines. And television manufacturers across the board are creating app-based functionality that gives you instant access to your favorite web content, like Netflix, YouTube, Skype, Pandora, and Facebook just to name a few, at the push of a remote button. Manufacturers have their own proprietary names for this technology, so look for phrases such as Widgets, Internet@TV, VIERA Cast, NetCast, BRAVIA Internet Video, Premium Connected Services, or StreamTV Internet Video. Check out our Instant Connect web page to learn more about getting connected.
It’s a small, small (networked) world
If you want to take your home entertainment system beyond apps, you’ll love the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA). DLNA lets you connect your TV (and other home theater devices) to your home computer network, expanding your entertainment possibilities ten-fold. If you’re new to networking, this may sound daunting. It’s not. The smart capabilities of most hardware nowadays makes setup pretty straightforward. Once you have your network established, all you need to do is connect your DLNA-certified products. DLNA-certified products are built to work together no matter which company made the product. And there are currently 60 corporations collaborating, so opportunities abound.
The remote makes a comeback
Okay, so we weren’t really ever aware that the remote control went away. Sure, we’d all like it to go away—or at least have four of the six littering our coffee tables go away. But now, even remote technology is getting giggity with motion sensors and buttons that bring together menus, component controls, and even embedded games, which can be accessed using minimal buttons and gestures to control the on-screen activity and small LCD screens that let you watch one channel on the big screen while you watch another on the little screen. Sound crazy? Crazy like an NFL fan. That’s right. As crazy as these technologies sound, we’re pretty sure consumers will find a perfectly legitimate use for these new gadgets.
240Hz motion-blur reduction
What we’re talking about here is refresh rate: it’s the rate that your TV screen refreshes the video display. The faster the refresh rate, the smoother the picture. The standard 60Hz LCD screen refreshes 60 times per second. A 120Hz LCD screen refreshes 120 times per second. And, in obvious alignment with this equation, a 240Hz LCD screen refreshes 240 times per second. I think we can all agree that 240 times a second is pretty darn fast. And, although this technology is necessary for 3D content, it also means any flicker or blur, whether 3D or 2D, between picture frames becomes unperceivable. Where this really comes into play though is when 24fps film (i.e. the Hollywood-produced movie) is converted to digital content. A 60Hz panel cannot evenly divide up the 24 frames per second; henceforth, it utilizes 3:2 pull-down technology. This technology makes sure that the frames displayed per second sync up with the panel’s refresh rate. In order to do this, a 60Hz panel has to repeat one frame for every three frames displayed. The result, even if you don’t understand the process, is blur, due to the fact that the panel has to fake one frame for every three frames it displays. Both the 120Hz and 240Hz refresh rates resolve this issue simply because both 120 and 240 are evenly divisible by 24. The result is a far more fluid picture, which is exactly what you expect for your home theater. Right? (See our article, TV refresh rate: banish the blur, for more info on 240Hz.)