Ask LH: Is There A Way To Improve Standard Definition Channels On My HD TV?

Dear Lifehacker, I just bought a 55-inch Samsung 3D LED TV and the standard-definition images are EXTREMELY poor and are really unacceptable. When watching soccer or cricket I can’t make out the individuals — they are just a blur. I am quite literally astounded that a modern piece of technology can’t convert lower resolutions so that the picture is viewable. Is there anything that can be done? I am desperate! Thanks, Archie

Remote picture from Shutterstock

Dear Archie,

HD TVs are primarily designed to show high definition content — which means anything with a lower resolution tends to suffer as a result. When you couple this with the large size of your TV screen and the low digital bit-rates employed by TV networks in Australia, you’re left with very ordinary looking standard-def footage.

One possible solution is to play the channels through a device that is capable of upscaling the image, such as a digital set top box, PlayStation 3 equipped with PlayTV or a HD personal video recorder (PVR). The results still won’t be perfect, but you should definitely notice an improvement.

On another note, just how bad do the channels look? If all you are seeing is a fuzzy blur, there may be something wrong with your aerial or you could be tuned into the wrong TV channels for your region; both of which will affect the reception.

The drawback of Full HD technology is that hardware continues to outpace available content. Outside of Blu-ray discs and movie downloads, there isn’t a whole lot of 1080p material out there. Even Australia’s free-to-air HD channels are broadcast in either 720p or 1080i (and that’s if you’re lucky — most of the time they just re-run ‘classic’ standard-def TV shows). Hopefully, this will slowly begin to rectify itself as the networks begin to adopt more and more HD content.


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