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Sky High-Definition TV Fact Sheet - FAQ

Sky have provided a HDTV FAQ to help answers about its forthcoming High Definition Television service:

WHEN IS SKY LAUNCHING HDTV?
· Sky is on track to launch a High Definition Television (HDTV) service in 2006.

· Sky's HDTV channel line-up will include a combination of sports, movies, entertainment and documentary programming. Full details will be announced later in due course.

· Pricing details will be announced in due course.

WHAT BENEFITS WILL HDTV DELIVER?
· HDTV offers a step change in picture quality, delivering a home viewing experience similar to that offered in cinemas.

· Viewers will see greater depth and tone of colours and textures. The improved clarity of HDTV broadcasts will bring an even greater sense of excitement and drama to a wide range of programme genres.

· HDTV can provide more than four times more data on a display screen than a Standard Definition broadcast. This is because of the increased picture resolution that HD broadcasts deliver and HD display devices will be able to receive.

· Pictures are delivered in widescreen format.

WHAT KIND OF TV SET WILL YOU NEED TO RECEIVE SKY'S HDTV SERVICE?
· Any kind of screen or TV set could be connected to Sky's HD STB but, to truly experience Sky's HDTV picture quality, customers will need a 26" or larger "HD Ready" plasma, LCD or DLP TV.

HOW MUCH WILL SKY'S HDTV SERVICE COST?
· Pricing details for Sky's HDTV service will be announced in due course.

WHAT DOES "HD READY" MEAN?
· "HD Ready" is a labelling scheme that is being introduced by the TV manufacturer's organisation EICTA. The "HD Ready" logo will appear on an increasing number of TV displays in shops over the coming months. Any TV set that carries the "HD Ready" label will work with Sky's HDTV service.

WHAT KIND OF DIGITAL TV RECEIVER WILL YOU NEED TO RECEIVE SKY'S HDTV SERVICE?
· Sky is introducing a new HDTV receiver that will initially be manufactured by Thomson.

· The receiver will feature a similar Personal Video Recorder capability to the existing Sky+ box**, enabling viewers to easily record and re-play programmes without video tapes. ** PVR capability will require a Sky+ subscription.

HOW WILL SKY'S HDTV RECEIVER CONNECT TO THE TV DISPLAY?
· The receiver will have an HDMI connector (High Definition Multimedia Interface) as its primary means of connecting to an HD display. HDMI can also be connected to DVI equipped displays using a suitable adapter cable.

· Most HDTV content will be protected by HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection). This means most HDTV content will only be able to be viewed on display devices that have HDCP software built into them.

WHAT FORMAT WILL SKY'S HDTV SYSTEM USE?
· Sky 's HDTV broadcasting system and HDTV receiver will support two HDTV formats:

- 720 / P / 50 (Progressively Scanned picture)

- 1080 / I / 25 (Interlaced picture)

· Sky believes the progressively scanned picture format is better suited for the delivery and viewing of HD content on large screen, flat panel displays (mostly plasma or LCD) that are increasingly available in electrical and specialist retailers. However, Sky does accept that for some types of programming, the higher screen resolution offered by the 1080 Interlaced format may be preferable.

· Broadcasters planning on launching HD services on the digital satellite platform will be able to choose whether to broadcast content in 720 / P / 50 or 1080 / I / 25.

· Sky's HD service will also utilise the advanced compression technology MPEG4. MPEG4 is a more efficient means of compressing the data in a TV picture.


JARGON - BUSTER:
· BIT RATE: Bit rate is measured as "bits per second" (bps) and refers to the rate at which data is transmitted.

· DLP: Digital Light Processor. A display device that reflects light on a pixel-by-pixel basis to create a projected image.

· DVI: Digital Video Interface. Provides high-bandwidth digital connection between a video source and a display device. It is a type of cable connector.

· HDMI: High Definition Multimedia Interface. A high-bandwidth digital connection for both video and audio data. HDMI ensures the best video signal is sent from the source (HDTV signal) to the display (LCD, Plasma, DVL). It does this by sending uncompressed video and multi-channel audio data to the display through one single cable.

· HDCP: High bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) is a copyright protection system that is incorporated into HD displays and receivers. It prevents unauthorised duplication and distribution of copyrighted content.

· INTERLACE SCANNING: Interlaced scanning refers to the process of re-assembling a picture from a series of electrical (video) signals. With Interlace Scanning a display shows every odd line at one scan of the screen and then all the even lines in a second scan of the screen.

· LCD TV: Liquid Crystal Displays are one form of flat-panel TVs. They are made up of two transparent panels with a liquid crystal solution sandwiched between the two. Electric currents are passed through the liquid - this causes the crystals to line up so that light cannot pass through them. Each of the crystals acts as a shutter, either allowing light to pass through or blocking out the light. The pattern of transparent and dark crystals forms the image.

· MPEG4: MPEG4 is a more efficient means of compressing the data that is sent to a TV.

· PIXELS: Pixels is the abbreviation for "picture element". Pixels are the smallest bits of data in a video image. The smaller the size of the pixels in an image, the greater the resolution.

· PLASMA DISPLAY: Plasma display is created by thousands of tiny tubes filled by ionized gas in a plasma state.

· PROGRESSVE SCANNING: Progressive scanning is based on the principle that all the horizontal scan lines are 'painted' on the screen at one time. 720 or 1080 horizontal lines are scanned progressively or in succession in a vertical frame. This is repeated 50 times a second. Some displays, for example LCD and plasmas use the progressive scanning method, while CRTs may use progressive (e.g. in computer monitors) or interlaced scanning method.

· 720P: 720P means the resolution of the TV picture is 720 horizontal lines. P refers to Progressive Scanning

· 1080i: 1080i means the resolution of the picture is 1080 lines. i refers to Interlaced scanning.

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