Don’t let ‘technical jargon’ stop you enjoying the Blu-ray player that is right for you. Our no-nonsense guide to the common terms used will help you to understand all you need to know to navigate the technical jungle.
24 fps | 100Hz | 1080p | BD-LIVE | Blu-ray | Component Video | Composite Video | Contrast Ratio | DLNA | DVI | EPG | Ethernet | Freesat | Freeview | Full HD | HD Ready | HDMI | LED TV | S-Video | Scart | USB
The picture you see on your TV is composed of a series of still frames which are displayed rapidly enough to create the illusion of movement. In the UK, TV's are set up to display the format most programmes are filmed in, 25fps (frames per second).
A number of TV's have the ability to display films at their intended 24fps (frames per second) rather than the standard (for TV) of 25fps. LCD TV's without this feature will automatically speed up a film very slightly to compensate.
A TV picture is composed of a continuous stream of rapidly changing still frames which create the illusion of movement. Most TV's in the UK are rated at 50Hz, i.e. they run at 50fps (frames per second).
There are an increasing number of TV's with 100 Hz processing (and now even 200Hz), which increases the frame rate from 50 to 100 frames per second. Various manufacturers have their own implementations, most of which employ complicated algorithms to digitally estimate the exact detail of the extra frames and produce a seamless graduation from frame to frame. The idea is that a more natural motion can be realised without degrading other aspects of the TV's performance.
High Defininition TV broadcast pictures come in two formats. The first is 720p ("p" stands for progressive), which is an image comprised of 1280 lines along the horizontal by 720 vertical lines. It shows the whole image in a single frame – that is, progressively.
The second is 1080i (used by Sky), which measures 1920 x 1080 lines and is displayed as two fields that are interlaced. You get a bit more detail with 1080i but the interlaced image is not as smooth as a progressively scanned one.
An even higher standard, 1080p, measures 1920 x 1080, and like 720p shows the whole image in a single frame. There are no broadcasts in this format but you can get a selection of Blu-ray (High Definition DVD's) movies shot in the format. Note: TV's which can display 1080p are often referred to as 'Full HD' screens.
BD-Live (Profile 2.0) gives you access to extra features online through your Blu-ray player disc menu.
Depending on the disc you have loaded, you can browse additional features such as games and bonus film extras.
Blu-ray is a High Definition optical disc format. Blu-ray discs can store around five times more information than traditional DVDs, with a 25GB capacity for single layer and 50GB capacity for dual-layer discs.
The extra storage capacity of Blu-ray allows films to be stored at a much higher resolution which in turn produces a picture of unparalleled sharpness and clarity.
Component video provides High quality video connection between components such as DVD players and HDTV televisions.
The three conductors use standard RCA connectors colour coded green, blue, and red. Component Video is higher quality than S-video and Composite Video.
Composite connections are Low quality video for Cable and satellite boxes, VCRs, DVD players, game consoles. Composite Video combines the entire video signal into a single channel losing picture quality in the process.
Best avoided if possible (remains a feature of new HDTV's for backward compatibility purposes - hooking up older equipment to your display etc).
A TV's Contrast Ratio is the difference between the blackest 'black' and the whitest 'white' a TV can produce. A 50,000:1 contrast ratio would, for example, indicate that the whitest white pixels (dots which creates the picture) are 50,000 time brighter than the blackest black pixel.
You should take all manufacturer quoted Contrast Ratios with a pinch of salt however; there is no universally accepted way of measuring contrast ratio and quoted figures are often widely inaccurate.
DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) is a standard used by manufacturers of consumer electronics to allow entertainment devices within the home to share their content with each other across a home network.
A number of DLNA enabled TV's for example have the ability to stream music, view digital photos and watch video content stored on your home networked PC or media server.
DVI provides High quality video. DVI delivers high definition video between components such as digital cable boxes and digital displays. While DVI provides comparable video quality to HDMI, audio must be carried on a separate connection.
An EPG (electronic programme guide) is a digital guide to scheduled broadcast television or radio programs, typically displayed on-screen with functions allowing a viewer to navigate, select, and discover content by time, title, channel, genre, etc.
The majority of Flat panel TV's have an EPG attached to built-in Freeview functionality.
Ethernet commonly refers to the widely installed local area network (LAN) technology used in the home or small office. An Ethernet network typically uses coaxial cable and is also used in a Wireless LAN.
Ethernet connections are appearing on HDTV's and Blu-ray players providing the option to stream media (music, photos etc) to the TV from a PC or take advantage of DLNA capability if it is available.
Freesat (not to be confused with Freeview) is a free, no subscription digital TV satellite service which offers over 140 digital TV and radio channels. The service was launched on 6th May 2008 as a joint venture between the BBC and ITV.
Freesat also gives you access to the BBC and ITV1 in High Definition. Although the service is free, you will need a satellite to access it and either a Freesat enabled TV or a Freesat set-top box (Freesat HD set-top box for the HD channels). If you want to find out more you might like to read our Freesat Guide
Freeview functionality enables you to watch digital television through an aerial. This functionality is essentially a digital tuner which allows you to access the Freeview 'free to air' service with its range of TV and Radio programmes.
The majority of new Flat panel TV's now have an EPG attached to built-in Freeview functionality. You can convert your old CRT TV to digital by buying a separate 'Freeview' box. All the familiar programmes you are used to watching will be there and more.
Full HD is often used interchangeably with the term 1080p. Although it is true to say that a Full HD TV has a resolution of 1920 x 1080, there is a little more to it than this.
1080p is the highest standard of High Definition and like 720p shows the whole image in a single frame. 1080i (used by Sky), also measures 1920 x 1080 lines but is displayed as two fields that are interlaced producing pictures not quite as smooth. There are no broadcasts in 1080p but you can get a selection of Blu-ray (High Definition DVD's) movies shot in the format and Sony's PS3 plays at this standard.
Not to be confused with 'Full HD' the HD Ready logo appears on TV's that are compatible with HDTV (High Definition TV) signals. TV's which are 'HD Ready' must meet a number of specifications.
Minimum 720 vertical lines (when a resolution is written as 1280 x 720 etc). Analogue component video and either DVI or HDMI inputs. Able to display 720p (1280 x 720 at 50Hz and 60Hz progressive) or 1080i (1920 x 1080 at 50Hz and 60Hz interlaced). A TV with a 1366 x 720 resolution or one with 1920 x 1080 would both be HD Ready.
HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a compact audio/video interface for transmitting uncompressed digital data. Being digital, HDMI is a higher quality alternative to analogue standards such as 'Scart'.
If you want to connect a number of peripherals (eg Blu-ray player, PS3, Sky Box) to your TV, then HDMI is the preferred way to go. Make sure your new TV has enough HDMI connections for your needs.
An LED TV is essentially and LCD TV which replaces the traditional 'always on' fluorescent 'backlight' (something like the one in many household kitchens) with LED's (light emitting diodes).
LED TV's use up to 40% less power, produce greater contrast levels (for richer deeper blacks) and more vibrant colour. Other advantages are that certain implementations of LED technology produce much slimmer screens although the downside is that they are more expensive. If you want to find out more you might like to read our LED TV Guide
Scart provides Medium quality video. A common way of connecting TV and video equipment. The SCART delivers video and audio signals.
S-Video provides Medium quality video. S-video is commonly used to connect VCRs, game consoles, or camcorders to a TV. S-video splits the video signal into two channels, luminance (Y) and colour (C). S-video is a higher quality video signal than Composite Video.
USB (universal serial bus) was originally devised as a method of establishing communication between devices and a host controller (usually personal computers).
A growing number of TV's come with a USB port, a small rectangular slot at the back or side of the TV. Content such as still JPEG's (digital photos etc), MP3 or even video files can be played through a USB port using a memory stick. Most TV's come with built-in slide show functionality which automatically plays digital photos when they are loaded via this method.