Confused by EDTV vs HDTV? We don't blame you. The number of acronyms floating
about with regard to digital TV is frightening. What's even more worrying is
that very often they are used by people who have little or no knowledge about
what they mean. If the person selling you doesn't know the difference between
EDTV vs HDTV, how are customers supposed to decide which TV or projector top go
In our guide below, we've tried to distill the technical info into as few words
as possible and make it as straightforward to understand as we can.
To properly explain EDTV vs HDTV, we need to step back a bit. Traditional TV has
525 lines of video which are interlaced. Interlacing just means that every frame
of video is split into two fields and each field is shown alternately. Although
there are 525 lines in the signal, only 480 lines contain video, so it is
sometimes referred to as 480i (480 lines interlaced). This is known as Standard
Definition TV, or SDTV. While this has worked well enough for fifty years, as TV
sets have got bigger and projectors more popular, the quality deficiencies have
become increasingly apparent.
The ultimate answer to improving the quality of the image displayed on your TV
is HDTV, however, as a step on the road to HDTV, the industry came up with
Enhanced Definition TV, or EDTV. This system contains the same 480 lines as SDTV,
but they are progressive scan. Hence EDTV is also known as 480p. Progressive
scanning just means that instead of splitting the signal into two fields and
showing half the lines at a time, all 480 lines of video are shown at once. This
results in a noticeable improvement in the quality of video.
The bad news in relation to EDTV vs HDTV is that you need a completely new TV or
projector to display both EDTV and HDTV. Most DVD players on the market today
are progressive scan, meaning they output EDTV signals, however, in order to
view the progressive scan picture in all its glory, you need a TV or projector
capable of displaying it and that, unfortunately, means getting a new TV.
In terms of content, there is very limited TV content available in HDTV format,
and there is still wrangling about the standard for HD DVDs. However, every DVD
disc on the market can be displayed in EDTV right now.
Bottom line? Pretty much every HDTV projector or TV on the market today will
display EDTV as well. So while there may not seem like a great deal of point in
getting a new display for the limited HDTV content that is available today, it
is worth it to watch your DVD collection in EDTV, the difference between SDTV
and EDTV really is that big.