Buy an HDTV to watch SDTV?

Freg3000

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Sep 22, 2002
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New York
I'm interested in purchasing a moderately priced flat panel HDTV for a college dorm room. Perhaps a large part of the motivation is the space savings aspects of a flat panel. In any event, the dorm naturally doesn't get an HDTV signal, so the cable programming we'd be watching would be SDTV. There is a possbility that a next-gen gaming console with HDTV output would be connected to the TV, or even a Mac for various purposes, but of course the main purpose would be for watching television. I'm also weighing the value of futuring proofing myself, as eventually I'll be in a location with an HD signal.

So my question is, while an SD signal isn't going to look anywhere near as good as an HD signal would on an HDTV, will it look worse than an SD signal on an SDTV? If it is the same, I'd probably take the leap and buy an HDTV, but if it is worse, maybe I should reconsider this purchase? I'm hoping there is the same type of effect with the upscaling of DVDs on HD-DVD players, but I wanted to ask some forum experts. :D

Thanks for your help! :)
 

Freg3000

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Sep 22, 2002
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New York
Any help here? Someone much smarter than I must know the answer. Please?

Sorry for bumping my own post...:eek:
 

risc

macrumors 68030
Jul 23, 2004
2,756
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Melbourne, Australia
I'm in Australia so my situation may be different to yours. I watch free to air digital standard definition TV on my HDTV all the time, it looks heaps better than analog TV, and even better than digital TV on a standard definiton TV because it's de-interlaced and my TV upscales to HD resolutions.

So in my case HELL YEAH SD LOOKS BETTER ON MY HDTV THAN ON MY OLD SDTV.
 

Dominatus

macrumors newbie
Nov 23, 2003
15
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Most places get free HDTV off the air in America, so just buy a cheap antenna (my 1980s antenna works great) and you should be set.
 

kevin.rivers

macrumors 6502a
Dec 4, 2005
501
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You can't future proof. Don't try.

If the HDTV is priced competetively in comparison to SDTVs go for it. That is what you should base your decision on. HD is fantastic and is the future however reasonable pricing and availiblity are not there yet. You can buy the HDTV now, but when this "future" comes there will be better TV available that will be cheaper.

So, in summary base your decision on your need for it and how competitive the pricing is in comparison current technology, SDTV.

You can pull HD signals over the air with an antenna.
Go here http://www.checkhd.com/aw/Address.aspx to check for available signals in your area. It will tell how far away the signals originate from and what type of antenna you may need.

Over the air HD looks great and depending on the quality of the tv and signal you will notice the difference over standard def.
 

jsw

Moderator emeritus
Mar 16, 2004
22,910
41
Andover, MA
I think the only real problem you'll have - unless you buy a crap TV with a terrible tuner/upconverter - is one of seeing more flaws in the picture due to the larger screen, not so much due to the HDTV aspect of the screen.
 

kevin.rivers

macrumors 6502a
Dec 4, 2005
501
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Dominatus said:
Most places get free HDTV off the air in America, so just buy a cheap antenna (my 1980s antenna works great) and you should be set.
This is not true in all cases. It is dependent on your distance away from origin of the signal.

In some cases you have to buy a more expensive antenna.
 

jsw

Moderator emeritus
Mar 16, 2004
22,910
41
Andover, MA
kevin.rivers said:
This is not true in all cases. It is dependent on your distance away from origin of the signal.

In some cases you have to buy a more expensive antenna.
True, but if the OP is in NYC, signal strength should be pretty decent in most spots, although buildings might create an issue.
 

kevin.rivers

macrumors 6502a
Dec 4, 2005
501
0
jsw said:
True, but if the OP is in NYC, signal strength should be pretty decent in most spots, although buildings might create an issue.
I didn't know his location. Just trying to keep the information given accurate and truthful. Otherwise you will see a thread title like...

"OMGWTFBBQ I bought a cheap antenna but can't get HD signals!" :)
 

khisayruou

macrumors 6502a
Aug 21, 2004
539
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Analog signals will look bad on any HDTV (unless you get the tubed HDTVs) and will look worse compared to SDTV. You will eventually get use to it, I know I did. If you are future proofing, then get a HDTV. There is free OTA HD, but it still has a long way to go, more than likely you will need to purchase a high quality antenna, otherwise you will get audio and data drops.
 

Freg3000

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Sep 22, 2002
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New York
risc said:
I watch free to air digital standard definition TV on my HDTV all the time, it looks heaps better than analog TV, and even better than digital TV on a standard definiton TV because it's de-interlaced and my TV upscales to HD resolutions.
khisayruou said:
Analog signals will look bad on any HDTV (unless you get the tubed HDTVs) and will look worse compared to SDTV].
Thanks for the help, but I am still a bit confused. To put it plainly, will an SDTV signal will look better on an HDTV or SDTV?

kevin.rivers said:
You can pull HD signals over the air with an antenna.
Go here http://www.checkhd.com/aw/Address.aspx to check for available signals in your area. It will tell how far away the signals originate from and what type of antenna you may need.

Over the air HD looks great and depending on the quality of the tv and signal you will notice the difference over standard def.
I'm about 6 miles away from a bunch of those signals (location: Philadelphia). About the antenna, how does that fit into my situation. Like I said I don't know very much about this at all, but I was invisioning taking a wire from the wall and plugging it into the TV, so where does the antenna come into play? Does the fact that this is a dorm room (meaning that what pops out of the wall is probably all I get) going to be an issue here?

Thanks tremendously for all your help! :)
 

rhsgolfer33

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2006
882
1
Freg3000 said:
Thanks for the help, but I am still a bit confused. To put it plainly, will an SDTV signal will look better on an HDTV or SDTV?



I'm about 6 miles away from a bunch of those signals (location: Philadelphia). About the antenna, how does that fit into my situation. Like I said I don't know very much about this at all, but I was invisioning taking a wire from the wall and plugging it into the TV, so where does the antenna come into play? Does the fact that this is a dorm room (meaning that what pops out of the wall is probably all I get) going to be an issue here?

Thanks tremendously for all your help! :)
You shouldnt have much of a problem picking up HD signals from six miles away. I live about 40miles from Los Angeles and get all the the HD signals from there, and about 60-70(or more) miles away from orange county and can pick up a few signals from there. Id just hookup with a small on top of the set HD antenna (shouldnt be super expensive) and try it out, just make sure you can return it if you cant get any HD signals. As for the wire from the wall into the TV, thatll give you whatever cable or satelite your college gets, the antenna will get you any of the local over the air HD channels and possibly some local standard def signals.
 

bousozoku

Moderator emeritus
Jun 25, 2002
13,979
3
Gone but not forgotten.
I'm using a 720p t.v. to view DVDs and watch standard t.v. It's not bad but it's not great either.

An SDTV of a few years ago will probably present most off-air or cable programming better than today's in-between, not quite fully HDTV models. This is because they're bad enough to hide the flaws. I've noticed that certain programming looks exceptionally good but no doubt that it would look much better as a full HDTV broadcast, even though this t.v. doesn't do full 1080i.
 

khisayruou

macrumors 6502a
Aug 21, 2004
539
0
Freg3000 said:
Thanks for the help, but I am still a bit confused. To put it plainly, will an SDTV signal will look better on an HDTV or SDTV?
SDTV signal (analog) looks better on a SDTV.

Basically...
Analog + HDTV = ugly
Analog + SDTV = good
HD + HDTV = omg its freakin beautiful
 

DeSnousa

macrumors 68000
Jan 20, 2005
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Brisbane, Australia
If I were you I would hold off, your only paying for technology that you don't need at the present moment and which will only become cheaper later on in life :)
 

Macshack

macrumors newbie
Apr 7, 2006
2
0
Don't do it! I made this mistake awhile ago and, at least where I live, SD looks awful on my HDTV. It gets all grainy and is hard to watch. After a few months I actually went ahead and ordered the HD service from Comcast and now it looks crazy good.
 

sushi

Moderator emeritus
Jul 19, 2002
15,658
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キャンプスワ&#
kevin.rivers said:
You can't future proof. Don't try.
Isn't that the truth.

Just look at the video side.

- Tape

- LD

- DVD

and now HD-DVD

Each time everyone goes through the process of building up an expensive library over time.

Wonder how long it will be until we get Super Duper HD-DVD (the next generation whatever it's called) and we go through the upgrade process again.

Arg! :mad:
 

vangrl

macrumors newbie
May 16, 2006
7
0
i just went through the same decision your going through. I ended up Buying a high definition plasma even though i can only get standard definition cable. the MAKE of t.v makes a HUGE difference as far as what sdtv will look like on your hdtv....i bought the commercial version of the panasonic 42 inch plasma and my standard t.v looks better than what it did on my toshiba CRT and my Toshiba was a top of the line sdtv. I believe that watching sdtv on an LCD is usually worse than plasma. I definitely made the right choice, i feel like i've safe guarded myself for the future and I'm benefiting right now as well. The Commercial Panny plasmas are so nice