WAVE 3 helps to bring HDTV into focus

By Scott Reynolds

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- By now you've heard about digital television and high definition. But many want to know will you lose your picture in one year when all stations must broadcast digital? If you're buying a high definition set, how do you make up your mind with all the choices? Our resident electronics guru Scott Reynolds clears up the cloudy picture.

You can spend hours upon hours reading about all the changes in televisions, so we'll try to simplify it for you.

For TV lovers, it's eye candy. The brilliant colors, stunning contrast and crisp detail. Rows and rows of high definition TV's -- the kind of sets in about 50 million households in the United States. But what if you have one of those old tube sets and use an antenna to get your signal?

"Those people will not be able to continue to use that TV until they get the new digital processing box we carry in our store," said Ron Weatherly, sales associate at HH Gregg.

The digital processing or convertor boxes are priced around $60. We'll tell you how the government will give you $40 toward buying one.

Maybe you're in the market for a high definition set, but don't want to pay a monthly cable or satellite bill. Don't worry -- you can still get the local stations HD (High Definition) signal for the major networks, meaning you can watch shows like Jay Leno or the Super Bowl in high definition.

"Most traditional antennas you have on a roof, or rabbit ears in your home, in most cases you can get an HD picture on any TV you purchased in the last three years," Weatherly said.

The first recommendation when trying to buy an HD set, know what size you want -- and maybe check with the better half.

"We're looking at 50 inches right now, so that's about as good as I'm gonna get, I'm afraid. I don't think she's gonna let me go much higher than that," said Nick Clark, an HH Gregg shopper. "They've come down in price, so they're in a more affordable price range. Better technology so you can afford a little more, but still there are so many choices to make."

Let's try to make those choices easier for you. You've probably heard about plasma, LCD and DLP.

A plasma TV may have the best colors. You'll probably find that a LCD set is a little bit brighter. The DLP sets are very light in weight, easy to lift and you will probably find larger screen sizes available for the same price.

All three types of digital TV sets are really good so don't worry about what you buy. They have gotten better at their weaknesses as well, such as being able to see the screen in bright light or an image burning while playing a video game. Any one will do well, especially if you are in at least a mid price range.

720p, 1080i or 1080p -- all those numbers can be confusing. Those numbers refer to how the TV processes the broadcast signal, but again there is not much to worry about here. 1080p is the newest and most expensive. While a 1080p set are great, the question is do you need it? We won't be broadcasting in 1080p anytime soon -- maybe forever. That means if you have one, you might not get the full benefit for the money.

You should do well with a 720p or 1080i -- you probably won't notice the difference. Even with a Blu-ray disc player, which produces the best possible signal of 1080p, some experts couldn't tell the difference when it was running into a 720p television instead of a 1080p. In fact, the majority chose the 720p set when they were brought into the room.

The bottom line -- if you get a good mid-level television, it doesn't really matter what you buy. Find one to fit your area in your home and you should be fine.

If you need to get a $40 coupon for a digital to analog converter box, call 1-888-388-2008 or just click on the highlighted link: Converter Coupons.

Online Reporter: Scott Reynolds

Online Producer: Charles Gazaway