One of the major selling points of high definition televisions is the potential to deliver much sharper, more detailed images than a standard definition TV. However, upgrading to HD can also lead to higher costs, as providers such as DirecTV often charge more for HD equipment and channels. You can use DirecTV's standard receiver/DVR with an HDTV and the picture will look fine, but not as good as it could when viewing HD channels with the proper cable connections.
HDTVs are designed with a maximum native resolution, which is the highest number of scan lines of a broadcast image the screen can display, based on the total number of pixels contained in the screen. This will be either 720 or 1080 vertical lines, and as video is broadcast in either a progressive-scan or interlaced format, it creates the terms such as 720p, 1080i and 1080p used to describe the native resolution of an HDTV. Standard definition television, on the other hand, broadcasts in 480i, which exhibits much less detail compared to HD.
Though DirecTV delivers 100 percent digital video, the resolution of the picture sent to the TV is still that of its broadcast source. Meaning, when viewing an SD channel it will always be at SD resolution, even on an HDTV. DirecTV's standard DVR only sends SD video to the TV, and does not allow access to HD channels in HD resolution. This is one upside to making the upgrade to the HD receiver/DVR, as only it delivers high definition video to the subscriber.
Subscribing to HD channels is not the only requirement for viewing HD video; the receiver/DVR also must be connected to the HDTV via HDMI or component video cables, which are the only two types of connections that deliver HD video to the TV. DirecTV's standard DVR only offers coaxial, composite RCA and S-video outputs to connect to a TV, and these connection types use an analog means of transmission. Only the HD receiver and DVR provide the necessary HDMI and component video outputs.
Standard DVR Features
Though the standard DVR cannot enable viewing of HD video, the SD picture will be clearly defined and watchable on an HDTV, though it does not maximize the value of having an HDTV. However, DirecTV's standard DVR does offer the full range of DVR options to subscribers for those who do not wish to upgrade to the HD DVR, including the 14-day on-screen program guide, one-touch recording, Dolby Digital 5.1 channel surround sound capability, and the ability to pause and rewind live TV up to 90 minutes.
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images