PS3 launch: Are you HD ready?

Tuesday 20 March 2007
PS3 is 'hi-def', but what does that really mean? And, more importantly, is it time to buy a new TV? Read on and be bamboozled no more...

What is 'high definition' TV?
It's all about the resolution of the screen – the smaller the dots on the screen, the more there is of them and the more detailed an image can be. To qualify as being 'HD Ready' a TV has to have a horizontal resolution of at least 720 pixels. That is, the image needs to be made up of at least 720 rows. Plus the TV needs a digital input (such as HDMI), though most include component inputs too, just to ensure compatibility with the maximum amount of hardware.

Do I need an HD TV?
It's the question anyone without an HD TV is asking. Do I have to buy one to enjoy PS3? And what's the difference between the current set of 'normal' HD TVs and the super 'True HD, full 1080' models? We're here to help.

Your PS3 will connect to any TV you can name and you can play games and watch movies on them. A composite lead comes in the box (with a PlayStation AV multi-out socket on one end and yellow, red and white leads on the other). It's exactly the same lead that you got with your PS2. So you can plug into your 'normal' TV and go on launch day.

Want a sharper, better picture?
Use an RGB SCART lead – of the same type that you use with your PS2 - and you'll see PS3 at its lo-def best. Time for the next level. Time for the component lead. This is still analogue (in that it delivers electricity down wires rather than 'ones' and 'noughts') but the difference on a suitably equipped TV is remarkable. This is the connection that's been delivering Xbox 360's hi-def images for the last year, so run a component lead from your PS3 to your TV and you can get full 720p and 1080i images. The difference over RGB SCART is immense.

The best you can possibly get, however, is the all-digital HDMI lead. PlayStation 3 has a dedicated HDMI socket which outputs digital pictures (right up to the current maximum possible of 1080p) alongside True HD sound. If your TV has an HDMI socket, this is most definitely the one to go for. Shame they cost £25 and you don't get one in the box, really…