Are you HD-Ready?

What Devices currently support HDTV?

Since the beginning of 2005 the vast majority of new top-of-the-range flat panel and rear projection TVs support HDTV. Sadly that leaves around 90 per cent of all of the plasma and LCD TVs sold over the last five years up standard definition creek without so much as an HDMI paddle.

The step-change was the introduction of HDCP copy protection, which became part of the HDTV standard only late last year. Even plasma TVs that did have HDMI or DVI input sold before the middle of last year will not have HDCP and will therefore not accept a HD signal.

New TVs that are HD compatible should sport an HD-ready logo but if in doubt check out the spec against our "is your TV HD-ready?" guide below.

The right display

For plasma TVs most of the big name brands now offer an HD-ready model although Panasonic has stuck to standard definition resolution again this year. Expect to pay upwards of £2,000 for good HD-ready plasma from the likes of Pioneer, Hitachi and Sony.

Meanwhile large screen LCD TVs are only just being introduced with DVI/HDMI inputs, HDCP and the HD ready logo. Models below about 27in screen size are still slipping the HD-compatible net but larger models from Philips, Sagem and JVC all get the HD thumbs up between £1,000 and £2,000.

DLP rear projection TVs are in firm favour around the Digital Home offices at the moment and all new models are fully HD compatible.

In terms of picture quality and price-per-square-inch, DLP models offer the best value HD viewing available with 45-52 inch models available for under £2,000 from the likes of Samsung, Toshiba and Sagem.

Blu-ray and HD-DVD

This year is likely to see the first domestic HD-DVD and Blu-ray players hit our shores, capable of playing pre-recorded HD movies. Content information on what is likely to be the first big box-office films released is non-existent - it's almost bound to be Garfield the Movie or some similar puerile detritus.

Both formats are likely to be capable of recording HD by launch in Europe - but with HDCP copy protection well ensconced in the HDTV format, don't expect to be able to record anything but unencrypted shopping channels in HD quality.

If you have an HD-ready TV and just can't wait for Sky's 2006 service, Blu-ray or HD-DVD, there is an alternative. Many of the latest flagship DVD players offer on-board scalars that increase the resolution of the DVD picture to 720p.

This is 'pseudo HD', of course. Nevertheless, the results are stunning and can give your entire DVD collection an instant HD makeover. We like Denon's scaling DVD-3910 at around £850 and, when combined with our Top Ten test-winning Toshiba 52WM48 DLP TV, you can have near-HD quality video in your home today for around £2,500 all in.

As a Digital Home reader you are already several steps ahead of the HD game and it's an exciting time. Not since DVD has there been such a wholesale upgrade in the TV viewing experience, particularly as HD encompasses prime broadcast TV and packaged media content.

Put simply, it's a revolution in home entertainment and you are going to want it and want it bad - we guarantee it!

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