Wondering if you should upgrade your television to a high definition unit? Here are the most common questions I have gotten about the HDTV technology.

How much better is HDTV?

Perhaps you mean how much sharper? Regular television is called analog TV. it is the stuff that we have been watching since the 1950s. The resolution on an analog television broadcast is 640 x 480 pixels, much smaller than most computer monitors these days. A HGTV program comes through at a resolution of up to 1920 x 1080 pixels, about six times as sharp. You can see an obvious difference when you see the pictures side by side.

I keep seeing 720p and 1080i in the descriptions of HDTVs. What are these numbers, and what is the difference between them?

The numbers refer to the horizontal pixel counts. A unit with 1080 will have more pixels. The p stands for progressive scan and the i for interlaced scan. With progressive scan, the picture is drawn in one pass, while in interlaced, the picture is drawn in two scans: one for odd-numbered lines and the other for even-numbered lines. What does this all mean for quality? In short, there isn’t too much difference. If you are only going to be watching broadcast television shows, 720p is fine and less expensive. You won’t be able to tell the difference, and the higher resolution won’t be available from broadcasters for a while. Higher quality 1080p video is currently available through Blu-Ray and HDTV DVD players, so if you want to take full advantage of this and possibly have room to grow, go for a 1080i unit.

I heard that with an HDTV, I won’t be able to record my TV shows. Is this true?

Well, yes and no. Standard VCRs, DVD players and TiVo cannot record high definition programming. To record HD programming, you’ll need an HD DVR, which will record the programming on to a hard disk. Many cable companies and satellite providers will rent a HD DVR to you for an additional fee. And new Blu-ray players are coming out with the ability to record material to a Blu-ray disc.

Mary Ann Romans writes about everything related to saving money in the Frugal Blog, technology in the Computing Blog, and creating a home in the Home Blog. You can read more of her articles by clicking here.

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About Mary Ann Romans

Mary Ann Romans is a freelance writer, online content manager, wife and mother of three children. She lives in Pennsylvania in the middle of the woods but close enough to Target and Home Depot. The author of many magazine, newspaper and online articles, Mary Ann enjoys writing about almost any subject. "Writing gives me the opportunity to both learn interesting information, and to interact with wonderful people." Mary Ann has written more than 5,000 blogs for Families.com since she started back in December 2006. Contact her at maromans AT verizon.net or visit her personal blog http://homeinawoods.wordpress.com