WTW: Fix Your Damm HDTV!

Hey, y’all, Jebediah here with a little helper. Now, for those of you who gots themselves a brand spankin new HDTV set and a high definition setup, is it working right? You sure? Positive?

OK, let me share a few secrets with y’all that will make ya happy with your HDTV experience. I do believe that Teach mentioned it once before, but let’s try it again, especially since most of the installers don’t know.

What you need to do is set the TV and the cable box/Direct TV box/whatever-the-hell-you-use to broadcast in HDTV. You need to understand that it might not, and probably won’t broadcast immediately in the proper formats. There are 4: 480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i. The chance of something being in 540p is very remote. You can go here for an explanation of what they mean, if you want.

True HDTV will be in at least 720p, probably in 1080i. But, here’s what happens. Check your TV settings, make sure they are all turned on correctly. Look specifically for something called "aspect ratio" or similar phrase. Turn that on. What that does is set the TV to change to the correct aspect depending on the channel. Me, I do not like to watch regular tv in a zoomed mode, unless the broadcast is in letterbox. (If you have no idea what I am talking about, take the TV back :D) Actually, cruise around CNET from that link, would be easier then lots of writing, and would get me off topic.

OK, the rest of the TV settings, you are on your own. Something called a "manual." Weird concept. Now, grab that cable/satellite box remote. Have I mentioned that you should turn your TV and box on? No? Please turn TV and box on.

Now, depending on the brand, you need to go into the settings of the box (using the remote), and find something that may be name output formats, or formats. You will probably see "480i" enabled, perhaps also 1080i. What you want to do is to make sure that all the formats are enabled. Otherwise, what happens is that the cable box either tries to up-scan programs to to high a format, or down-scans them to 480i. Then you see what should be super clear the same way as basic TV. You have then wasted alot of money and wonder what the BFD is regarding HDTV.

Another little hint is that you should not use the same old cables. You need to either get Component or HDMI/DVI cables, the latter being the best (and most expensive.) If you have a Progressive scan DVD player, you need at least Component cables, as well. If your TV has a setting regarding up-scanning 480p programs, which will basically be your DVDs, if it is a bit pixelated, you might want to set the up-scan down to 540p or 480p, rather then 1080i.

Also, their may be a setting for "aspect ratio" with the cable/satellite box. Set that to the correct one. For instance, my cable is with Time Warner, and I have a Scientific America box. The aspect ratio is set to "widescreen (16:9), Sidebar (4:3) That means I have a widescreen TV, and regular programs will be broadcast with sidebars. By pressing the # button, I can change the aspect to zoom or stretch.

Did that make sense? Well, do it anyhow. You will thank me later. Trust me. I learned the hard way about this stuff. Everytime I am at someones home and they have HDTV, I check their settings, and, more often then not, ‘taint set up correctly.

Enjoy! And go outside and play now and then. While seeing every blade of grass during golf, football, baseball, etc, on TV might be great, your eyes would do well to go look at the real thing.

PS: if the TV front isn’t glass, do not clean it with glass cleaner. Go to a computer store, and buy proper cleanser, just like with a laptop that doesn’t have glass. Now THAT you will really thank me for.

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