Highly Difficult: How millions have bought a high definition TV... but don't have a clue how to make it work
By Sara Nathan
Last updated at 12:33 AM on 9th April 2010
Millions of Britons mistakenly think they are watching high definition television even though they aren't using the right equipment
Millions of Britons mistakenly think they are watching high definition television even though they aren't using the right equipment, a study has found.
Despite spending an average of £500 on flat-screen 'HD-ready' TVs, many viewers do not realise they also need a special set-top box or a Blu-ray DVD player to unlock the ultra-sharp pictures.
More than 6million are unwittingly missing out on the high definition revolution, the figures from the British Video Association (BVA) suggest.
The research, based on a poll of 9,500 viewers, showed that 30 per cent thought they could watch high definition programmes or Blu-ray discs at home.
It then revealed, however, that almost half of those who believed they were watching in HD had not actually connected the necessary player or set-top box.
It is thought that more than 55 per cent of UK households have invested in an HD-ready television. Prices start at around £300 for a 32in screen, but can rise to more than £1,000.
In order to watch high definition programmes, viewers need to sign up with a provider such as Sky or Virgin or buy a Freeview or Freesat set-top box.
BVA spokesman Simon Heller said: 'In the run-up to the World Cup even more people will be looking to invest in HD, but they need to be aware that a high-definition television alone does not mean that they are watching content in high definition.'
There are currently three HD channels available to Freesat viewers, three for Freeview viewers, 41 for Sky Digital customers and 12 available via Virgin Media.
Football fans will be able to watch almost every World Cup match in the format this summer after ITV launched ITV1 HD. The BBC already has its own BBC HD channel and uses its 'red button' technology to show sports in HD.
Many TV shows, such as the BBC's Robin Hood, paved the way for dramas to be filmed in HD.
But Mr Heller added: 'Many people don't realise that until you sign up to a provider you won't actually be watching HD.'
Even if you do buy an HD-ready TV and manage to connect it successfully, however, the next big thing in TV technology is set to be 3D.
Manufacturers are expected to release 3D models later this year.
Three elements will be required to watch: a 3D-ready TV, 3D glasses, and 3D content.
Sky is preparing to launch the UK's first 3D channel.
In order to watch high definition programmes, viewers need to sign up with a provider such as Sky or Virgin or buy a Freeview or Freesat set-top box