HD Capable vs HD Ready - What does HD Ready Mean

There are numerous makes and models of HDTV available on the market and shopping for that new high definition television can be confusing if you do not understand some of the technology used. The days of simply picking any television because it is the right brand or the right size are long gone.

Nowadays, there are LCD, rear projection, flat screen and plasma screen sets. On top of that, there are also HDTV capable and HDTV ready sets but what is the difference and how do you go about choosing what is right for you?

The various types of monitors available include -

  • Plasma screen
  • LCD - Liquid crystal display
  • DLP - Digital Light Processing
  • LCOS - Liquid Crystal On Silicon

There are also projection displays to consider.

Many viewers prefer the wall mounted display monitor that either plasma or LCD offers. However, these are usually the most expensive of high definition television sets, especially if they are in the forty to seventy inch screen size range. Lower on the price scale, but equally as good, are LCD displays that are forty two inches screen size and under.

High definition television is popular because it offers a brighter, clearer picture resolution and works well with a surround sound audio system. Movie enthusiasts love HDTV because it offers the whole picture on screen rather than cutting off part of the picture at the top or bottom.

Screen resolution from high definition TV broadcasts is almost five times that of conventional broadcasts. High definition has double the lines of resolution compared to a traditional analog TV set. While a traditional analog set can only display 525 lines of resolution, HDTV technology takes this one step further. HDTV broadcasts can display 1080 horizontal lines of resolution. This makes a huge difference in the picture clarity and quality. Often with big screen analog broadcasts, the picture is severely degraded because of the resolution lines.

So, what of the difference between a high definition television that is marked HD capable and one that is HD ready. In a nutshell, HD ready sets have the HDTV receiver and/or decoder built in which enables the TV set to receive over the air high definition signals from local networks.

An HD capable set requires the addition of an external receiver and/or decoder in order to receive digital broadcasts.

In other words, HD capable means that the TV set is able to receive high definition signals, but only with the use of an external HD converter box that is available from the cable or satellite company. Alternatively, if you are not connected to cable or satellite, an external digital tuner and over the air antenna will be required. An HD converter box can be rented cheaply each month or you can purchase one for a few hundred dollars. Many HDTV sets have built in digital tuners that allow you to view the free digital broadcasts from major local networks.

It is also possible to purchase converter boxes that are compatible with analog televisions. These special converter boxes or adapters cost around $100. The picture will be similar to analog, but will be in digital format. The only downside to this is that if the received digital signal is on the weak side, you may well end up with no picture on the screen at all.

To receive over the air broadcasts, you will need an antenna for signal reception and either a high definition set with a built in HDTV tuner or a HD ready television with a separate tuner. Over the air or OTA broadcasts are digital format with upwards of 1500 channels available around the United States. To receive OTA broadcasts, you will need to call your local cable or satellite provider to find out what is available in your area.

Something to bear in mind when shopping for your new HDTV set is to find out what HD programming is available in your area. Most of the networks have two channels, one in analog and one in high definition although they are not the same. Unless your television is either HD ready or HD capable, you will not be able to view the high definition broadcasts.

Also, although most networks do broadcast in high definition, they do not always show all programs in HD. Often, the networks broadcast certain prime time specials and major sporting events in HD but, to the disappointment of many viewers, their favorite shows are not always offered in high definition. It is therefore important to find out what programming is available in you particular area