HD TV: Your questions answered

Does the HD world still slightly baffle you? Let's be honest, there’s never been a more confusing time to upgrade. We all now know that full-HD 1080p is a must, but now we’re being bombarded with web-ready televisions, Freesat HD, Freeview HD, LED backlighting and more.

In the hope of easing your transition to a hi-def TV experience, see below for all those crucial points to consider when upgrading your visual experience.

How can I avoid buying a TV licence?

A television licence is not required if you want to catch up on previously broadcast shows on BBC iPlayer. you only require a licence when you watch or record a show at the same time as it’s being publicly broadcast and distributed. Whether you view a show using a mobile phone, laptop, PC or record via any digital TV recorder, set-top box or games console is irrelevant; if the content is watched or recorded as it’s being broadcast, you need a licence – and that includes through the iplayer’s Watch Live simulcasts. once you have a licence, you’re covered for home and mobile viewing across all platforms.

Can I watch the whole World Cup in HD?

Yes, in a word. Back in 2006, the BBC ran a 12-month trial on HD, making its coverage of the World Cup the first major sporting event to be broadcast in HD in the UK. Back then we were still in the early stages of adopting HD-ready TVs. Now if you subscribe to Virgin Media, Sky+HD or have Freeview HD or Freesat HD, you’ll be able to watch every World Cup game in hi-def across ITV HD and BBC HD. Launched as a fully-fledged channel at the beginning of April, ITV1 HD will also broadcast the UEFA Champions League Final and FA Cup Final in HD, as well as drama and a whole host of entertainment shows.

How many HD channels can I receive?

You can pick up the most HD channels from Sky, which offers 38 with more on the way, such as ITV1 HD, Sky News HD and Sky Sports HD 4. Some shows on the HD channels aren’t actually in hi-def – your Sky EPG can be set to highlight in orange the ones that are. Sky+HD supports both 1080i and 720p HD formats and most HD programmes are broadcast in 5.1 surround sound, so don’t skimp on a home cinema system. At present Virgin has seven HD channels. Of the free options, Freeview HD has three HD channels, while Freesat offers two.

What is the ideal viewing distance for my HD TV?

As a rule of thumb, your distance from the screen should be about two to three times its diagonal width. If you can only get about 1.6m back from the screen, go for a 32-incher. you can get away with 42 inches if you perch about 2.1m from the screen. Want a 50-inch mega plasma? You should really be about 2.5m away. But hey – it’s not like it’s the law or anything…

Sky Player for Freeview boxes and Cello TVs

Sky is to offer the Sky Player online TV service on Cello’s web-connected TVs and 3View PVR set-top boxes. This is the first time Sky has dipped a toe into Freeview’s waters when it comes to pay TV. The Sky Player service, already available on PC, Mac, Windows Media Centre, Xbox 360 and Fetch TV, costs from £15 per month. According to Sky, existing Player punters will be able to access the content on their Cello or 3View at no additional cost, whilst non-Sky customers will be able to sign up to their choice of TV packages via monthly subscription.

Best HD accessories to pack into your living room

No true HD set up should be complete without the best kit to suitably enhance your hi-def viewing experience.

- Click now for the Best HD accessories to buy