High-definition is a great leap forward, but the various forms of HD have long been the subject of intense debate.
Industry insiders at the DTG (Digital TV Group) are attempting to definitively resolve one issue: when it comes to broadcasting HD pictures, they say, 720p 'is better than 1080i'.
Greg Bensberg, Principal advisor on broadcasting at Ofcom, says that studies show 720p to be the preferable format, especially once any kind of compression is used. 'The compression combines with the interlaced signal to produce more problems,' he says. 'At that stage, the progressive signal is clearly superior'.
Of course, the best solution would be 1080p, already available via Blu-ray discs and upscaling. Bensberg agrees. 'Yes. we hope that in the future we'll be seeing 1080p broadcasts, so people should still think about future-proofing when they buy a TV.'
Nonetheless, we appear to have a definitive answer – at least from the broadcast industry's point of view - on an important aspect of the high-def debate. In the words of Phil Laven, former technical director if the EBU (European Broadcasting Union): 'It's a simple message. 720p now, 1080p later, 1080i never.'