HDTV Technical Lingo Guide

Quick reference to important HDTV lingo

Aspect Ratio: The shape of your HDTV either 16:9 for widescreen or 4:3 for a standard TV.


CRT: Stands for Cathode Ray Tube, which is the old style picture tube type TV. A CRT based TV set can also be a rear projector, which are very large and heavy TVs. CRT may be outmoded technology but they still provide a very good picture.

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DLP: Stands for Digital Light Processing. This is a micro-display technology so they're found in the form of a rear projector HDTV. DLP is also a competitor to LCD rear projectors.

EDTV: Enhanced Definition TV. This is a new type of TV that is capable of enhanced resolution but not HDTV. Usually its maximum resolution is 480P, so it will give you a better picture than conventional NTSC television. Sometimes an EDTV will have almost the same resolution as a 720P HDTV, but will have the wrong aspect ratio (4:3 instead of 16:9) so it can't be defined as a true HDTV. Sometimes EDTV is sold as HDTV.

Flat Panel: Any TV that has a flat screen. This discounts any of the rear projector TV sets and any CRT. Don't confuse a flat panel or flat screen TV with a flat picture tube.

Front Projector: This type of display device is a projector using light from a lens in the front to project images on a screen or a flat wall in front of it. Projectors make one of the best display devices if you have control over the viewing environment.

HDTV: Stands for high definition television, which is a TV that has a native resolution capable of either 720P or 1080i. The HDTV technical specification was set by a technical body called the ATSC, which also defines the resolutions that comprise HDTV.

LCD: Liquid Crystal Display is a method of producing images through a liquid crystal surface. LCD TVs are found in either a flat panel or a micro-display.

LCoS: Liquid Crystal on Silicone is a variant of the micro-display LCD rear projector. LCoS seems to be winding down in popularity as rear projector TV sets, but has promise with other micro-display applications.

Micro-Display: A type of HDTV that consists of micro-components that produce an image that is projected into a system of lenses and a screen. The micro-display is a rear projector TV that includes LCD, LCoS and DLP.

Native Resolution: Simply the number of pixels in a TV. A TV's native resolution is the only resolution that a TV is capable of and will convert every other resolution to its native resolution. Most CRT HDTVs have a native resolution of 1080i and, although it's compatible with 720P, it will convert an inbound 720P signal to 1080i. Likewise most Plasma or LCD HDTVs have a native resolution of 720P (although some newer ones are capable of 1080P) and will convert all inbound video signals to that resolution.

Projector: See Front Projector

Rear Projector: A rear projector HDTV is any TV that gets its picture from images projected onto a screen inside the box. Basically, it's a projector designed to project only onto an internally built screen. Micro-displays are an example of a rear projector, but there are also CRT rear projector HDTVs.