Thursday, December 14, 2006
High Definition Upconversion Technology Is An Economical Alternative
In all of the hype surrounding high definition television, one type of technology that's frequently overlooked is the high definition upconverter. A high definition upconverter is able to convert standard definition programming into a picture quality that will be acceptable as high definition programming.
Upconverters of a kind are available in most standard DVD players. When connected to a high definition television set the upconverter in the DVD player will convert the digital signal from the disk into an analog signal before increasing the resolution from 480i to 1080i and then convert the signal back to digital television format before sending it to the high definition television set. In general, this makes for a higher quality picture than what you'd get on a standard definition television set, but it would still have too much noise and other anomalies in the picture to truly be considered a high definition picture.
A true high definition upconverter also converts standard definition television content to a high definition picture by increasing the resolution from 480i to 1080i, but it does so with the signal in digital format the entire time. With the entire process taking place in digital format, much of the noise and color swirl of the process described above is avoided.
A good high definition upconverter will produce a picture rivaling that of native high definition video. In fact, some high end commercial versions of the device are used to remaster older standard definition content to qualify as high definition programming. A great example of this is with older television series that are being remastered to qualify as high definition programming content. While high definition upconversion will increase the resolution of a standard definition picture, there's nothing it can do to change the aspect ratio of the picture into the wide screen format of true high definition programming. (Changing a 4:3 aspect ratio picture into a 16:9 aspect ratio picture would involve stretching the picture horizontally and making everything in the picture look a lot fatter than it really is, or chopping off the top and or the bottom of the picture. Both are possible. Neither is desirable!) Fortunately the vast majority of old TV shows were shot on thirty five millimeter film with a wide angle lens which gave it the same 16:9 aspect ratio required for high definition programming. If the original film can be dug out of a vault and transferred to digital format, an professional quality high definition upconverter can convert it to the high definition television format very easily.
High definition upconverters are also found in a variety of consumer products including many upper end DVD players and high definition television sets. They work in a similar way to the better ones mentioned above, and while they can't do anything to change the aspect ratio of a picture, they will go a long way toward making standard definition television a good approximation of native high definition content. In fact, if you're subjecting standard definition programming that has a wide screen format to high definition upconversion, and you have a good enough upconverter, you're essentially doing the same thing to that programming that the professionals do when they remaster older television shows and movies. High definition upconverters are a great way to enjoy almost-high definition television for less than high definition prices.