Clearing up the
Q: I bought a new HDTV, but the picture ■ You buy or rent a special HDTV receiver from
doesn’t appear to look better than my previ- your cable or satellite TV provider. Marc Saltzman, a lead-
ous picture. What’s wrong? ■ You pay for access to HDTV channels or are ing high-tech reporter,
able to receive HDTV signals via antenna (see contributes to more than
A: When you buy an HDTV (high-definition televi-www.AntennaWeb.org for details). three dozen prominent
sion), it should be considered an HDTV-ready tele- ■ You use the right cables to hook it all up. publications, appears on
vision. Sure, it’s technically capable of delivering ■ You have your set tuned to the right channel radio and TV, and is the
those wonderfully detailed images, but there are a to view HD programming.
few things you need to do before you can experience author of 13 books.
the beauty of high definition. Q: What’s the difference between watching
First, you need to subscribe to HDTV program- DVDs on an HDTV versus an older television?
ming from your cable or satellite TV provider. This
means you must rent or buy a special receiver box A: Standard analog televisions are capable of dis-that is capable of accepting an HDTV signal, and playing 480 lines of resolution, which happens to be
then likely pay a little extra per month to pick up the same resolution as a DVD player. VHS tapes, on
those special high-def channels. Depending on your the other hand, deliver only 240 lines of resolution.
television, you may also receive a couple of over-the- While a movie on DVD looks twice as good as
air HDTV signals for free through an antenna. one on a videocassette, today’s DVDs are not high-
Next, to see an HDTV image on your screen you definition quality. It’s coming, though, as two com-must use the proper cables to run between your peting successors to the DVD—Blu-ray discs and
satellite or cable TV receiver and your HD televi- HD-DVDs—will offer high-def video quality when
sion. Today’s analog programming is connected they debut this spring. But let’s get to your question.
with red, yellow and white composite (“RCA”) One way to make your DVDs look better on an
cables or an S-video cable. High-definition pro- HDTV is to invest in better cables. So instead of using
gramming, however, requires component cables composite “RCA” or S-video cables, most DVD play-
(red, blue and green), or a DVI (digital visual inter- ers have component output cables (they’re red,
face) cable, or the preferred HDMI (high-definition blue and green). Newer DVD players may have DVI
multimedia interface), which offers the highest- or HDMI output, which offers the best video quality.
quality, uncompressed digital flow of video and Second, unlike older analog televisions, HDTV
audio data between a compatible receiver and the sets are capable of displaying a DVD’s 480 lines “
pro-HDTV. Take a look at the back of your HDTV to see gressively” (referred to as 480p). This means all the
your options. lines on the screen are drawn simultaneously, pro-
Most manufacturers don’t provide the appropri- ducing an ultra-sharp picture in one-sixtieth of a sec-ate cables with the set, but your cable or satellite com- ond. Your DVD player must be a “progressive scan”
pany may provide them when you upgrade to HD model to take advantage of this. Most DVD players
programming. If not, you’ll need to purchase them. purchased within the last three years are 480p.
Questions about electronics
or computers you purchased
at Costco? Send them to:
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
Or fax to (425) 313-6718,
or e-mail to
in the subject line.
Marc will answer
selected questions in this
column. We regret that
cannot be answered
Be sure your television is high-definition. Just The old interlaced method (480i) takes one-because it’s a flat-panel wide-screen TV, such as thirtieth of a second to draw first the even lines, then
plasma or LCD (liquid crystal display), that doesn’t the odd lines to form the image. Some DVD players
mean it’s HDTV. can “up-convert” the picture from 480 lines to 720p Last, be aware that standard analog channels or 1080i, using a DVI or HDMI connection, for a The Costco
and high-definition channels are on different chan- picture that looks better than standard 480i quality. Connection
nels. For example, the ABC analog channel may be Another advantage of watching a DVD on an Members will find a wide
channel 4, whereas the ABC-HD channel may be HDTV is the ability to view the film in its native selection of HDTV sets from
channel 104. wide-screen format (16: 9 aspect ratio instead of the leading manufacturers at
So, to summarize, you can view HDTV pro- box 4: 3 aspect ratio found in standard TVs). The Costco and on costco.com.
gramming only if these requirements are met: DVDs you use, however, must say “wide-screen” Costco.com also carries