How to get HDTV

To set yourself up for enjoying HDTV, you first need a television capable of displaying a high-def image. Then you need one or more of several other things:
  • An antenna to receive over-the-air HD broadcasts (TVs made after 2007 will have a built-in digital tuner).
  • Digital cable (check to make sure it's available in your area and that your provider transmits HD programming)
  • Digital satellite service (if it's available in your area and your provider transmits HD programming)

Terms to Know

60Hz, 120Hz, 240Hz, 600Hz

Hz refers to the number of times a screen refreshes itself every second. These numbers are typically seen on LCD or LED TV spec sheets. A 60Hz screen will re-draw the picture 60 times in 1 second whereas a 120Hz screen will refresh 120 times every second. The benefit of a faster Hz rating is a smoother picture, especially during fast motion. In comparison, plasma TVs will experience no motion issues due to their fast .001ms equivalent response time. Occasionally, plasma TVs may advertise a 600Hz subfield drive. This means the Plasma TVs are able to maintain the full 1920x1080 screen resolution even during fast motion with no jitter or lag.

720p, 1080p, & "Full HD"

These numbers refer to lines of resolution on a HDTV. Most televisions now have 1080 lines, but there are still 720 TVs being produced. "P" stands for progressive scan whereas "i" stands for interlaced. Progressive scan signals will refresh every line on the TV simultaneously whereas interlaced signals will only refresh the odd or even lines on the screen during the same time period. The term "Full HD" simply refers to a 1080p signal. For more information on HDTV Resolution, be sure to visit the OneCall

LCD, LED, & Plasma

LCD & LED are both backlit TV technologies with a different type of lighting to illuminate the screen. Plasma, on the other hand, has no backlighting. Each individual cell will light up with color to create the picture. For more information about the differences, read LCD vs LED vs Plasma HDTVs learning article.


This terms refers to newer HDTVs that have 4 times the resolution of a 1080 television set. With an actual pixel count of 3840 x 2160, these TVs have over 8 million pixels. For more information on 4K TVs, check out our 4K Resolution Explained learning center article.

Smart TVs

Many newer HDTVs give users the ability to surf the internet on your TV, have "apps" that allow users to update facebook or other social media sites, can understand voice commands, and some have built-in cameras with facial recognition. For users looking for more than just a monitor to watch their shows, smart TVs offer more options with intuitive features.


For customers that love movies and want a unique experience, 3D TV are the answer. To get the full effect, users must wear passive or active shutter glasses while watching 3D content. Once the effect is turned on, users get a sense of depth on the screen and occasionally objects will fly out and appear to hover off the screen. For more information on 3D technology, try reading our 3D TV FAQs page.

Why would I need a set-top box?

DTV signals are broadcast in a variety of ways by different providers. For example, an HDTV signal and a digital satellite broadcast are very different, and must be received and decoded differently. That`s where a set-top box (STB) comes in. Each STB is designed to receive and decode a different type of broadcast. Most DTVs require the addition of an STB because it would be too costly to equip them with tuners and decoders for every type of broadcast. It wouldn`t make sense to pay for a TV with a satellite receiver if you`re only planning on getting over-the-air HDTV. That`s why you`ll see terms like "HDTV monitor" or "HDTV upgradeable". This means that the TV is capable of displaying true HDTV, but it does not have a built-in HDTV tuner.