To prepare consumers for the launch of high-definition (HD) television later this year, Sky has set up a website that includes video clips demonstrating the format.
HD represents a significant change in TV picture quality, said to be four times the detail of standard-definition TV. In addition to clearer pictures there is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound on many programmes, with a compatible home cinema system. HDTV is a digital service and is not available on standard analogue TV.
Sky’s website, located at www.sky.com/hd, includes information about HDTV, a list of frequently asked questions, still images and full screen demos. Under the ‘more to explore’ link on the site there are four video clips to download — two documentary highlights from National Geographic and two rugby excerpts from Sky Sports.
The HD video clips vary in size between 42 and 66MB. To view them via the web, Sky recommends a minimum PC configuration of Windows XP with Windows Media Player 10, DirectX 9.0. The user’s computer should run a 3GHz processor or equivalent, with 512MB of RAM, a sound card and speakers, a 128MB video card and a high resolution display, ideally set at 1920 x 1080 screen resolution.
There is information for consumers on what equipment will be needed to watch HDTV programmes. Last month Sky confirmed to siliconrepublic.com that its HDTV service would be available in Ireland to Sky Digital subscribers by June of this year.
The company has said its initial HDTV lineup will include channels covering sport, movies, entertainment, arts and documentaries. The sports offering will cover live English Premiership football and rugby to start with and other events will be announced later. Viewers will be able to choose from two movie screens showing films in HDTV format. The titles available at launch include Kill Bill, Spider-Man 2 and Big Fish. A Sky Box Office option offers the choice of up to 10 HD movies every week.
The service is rounded out by Sky One, with a selection of programmes including 24 and Rescue Me in HD, along with Artsworld HD, National Geographic HD and Discovery HD.
By Gordon Smith