With HD-DVD players and Blu-Ray players becoming more and more popular in today’s home entertainment systems, the term “HDMI upscaling” is thrown around like everyone knows what it means. Sure, it sounds good, but what exactly is it? If you have a standard definition TV, does HDMI upscaling have any affect on you? In this article, we answer the question, “What is HDMI upscaling?”
HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface and it was developed in 2002 as an audio/video connector that offered backward compatibility with DVI (digital video interface), which was the HD standard at the time. In the development, designers were able to manufacture a smaller connector that enabled both HD video and audio delivery (DVI can only deliver HD video feeds, no audio). Since it’s development, HDMI has become the de facto standard in home entertainment systems.
Standard definition television sets and regular DVDs have a maximum resolution of 720×576. Today’s high definition television sets offer much higher resolutions, with some as high as 1920×1080. As a result of this, when you watch a standard DVD on an HD DVD or Blu-Ray player and a high definition television set, the quality of the picture suffers. The picture has to be stretched sometimes as much as two and a half times the original resolution. This causes the video from your DVD to have a pixelated look.
When you watch the same DVD in an HD DVD or Blu-Ray player that features HDMI upscaling, the device will automatically add pixels to the video to help smooth out those pixelated images and match the resolution that is being output to the resolution of the viewing area. This is considered a form of interpolation, where new data is constructed within the range of known data points.
HDMI upscaling can also create a progressive scan picture. Progressive scan is when all of the video’s frames are drawn in sequence rather then being drawn alternately.
The benefit of HDMI upscaling is of course, a better picture for your older, non-Blu-Ray DVDs. However, the picture will never be true high definition and to the videophile, the picture will still be poor. But, for those casual-viewing individuals who have an HD television set who are not overly-overly-concerned about their DVD quality, HDMI upscaling will offer a decent solution against purchasing all new Blu-Ray versions of your DVD collection.
While HDMI upscaling works fairly well with displays that feature a fixed-pixel system like LCDs and Plasmas, they don’t seem to fare as well on CRT-based high definition television sets.