My next TV: Progressive or interlaced?

The human race has always been forced to learn new terminology when technology changes. That’s especially true when we’re forced to go out and spend hard-earned money on new gear.

But I can’t think of anything more confusing than what we’re faced with when purchasing a new, high-tech digital TV.

In this case, everything is different. You now need to be armed with the facts about size, shape, resolution as well as price. It can be very confusing.

Today’s first question comes from JFH30 from who asks:

“What is the difference between 480p and 480i, and which should I use?”

First, we need to know what those TV screen resolution numbers really mean. The basic rule of thumb used to be the more lines your TV set can reproduce the sharper the picture you watch.  That no longer is always the case.

The current U.S. analog television standard, which is more than 50 years old, calls for 525 horizontal lines of video per second to be reproduced on your TV’s cathode ray picture tube (CRT) screen. In reality, when you take into account some lines lost at the top and bottom of the screen — you’re really watching a maximum of 480 lines of video.

In inexpensive TVs that number is more like 375-400 lines. In this case, the more lines your TV set can reproduce the sharper the picture you watch.

Your TV’s picture always is presented as interlaced lines of video — that means your TV is reproducing every other line of video being broadcast — 60 times per second.  That system is now known as 480i (480 lines, interlaced).

Now digital TVs can reproduce video progressively.  That means you will be able to watch the full 480 lines of information as it’s presented 60 times per second.

That means if your TV set is capable of 480p (480 lines, progressive) you’ll be watching video that’s approximately twice as sharp as 480 interlaced lines.

New high definition TV sets can also show 720p which is similar in quality to 1080i.  New top-of-the-line sets are capable of 1080p — which produces the best results you’ve ever seen. 

For best results, try to get a set capable of reproducing the highest number of progressive lines that you like and can afford.  Expect new TV receivers to be priced accordingly.

Jeff Bolander of Corona, CA had something to say about my recent rave review of the new MacBook laptop:

“I just read the article “Back in Black: MacBook World’s Best Laptop?”, and noticed a minor but potentially important incorrect detail.

The author stated that MacBooks have a one button track pad and recommended using an external multi-button mouse if you need to.  I would like to point out that MacBooks ship with the ability to hold two fingers on the track pad and click the button, resulting in a “right click.”

The feature may or may not be enabled by default and can be turned on in the mouse preferences pane. That fact might be important to a lot of people considering the computer.”

From what I knew about using the MacBook I didn’t think Jeff was completely right.  So I went to the experts.  I asked the people at Apple Computer to help us out with an explanation.  Turns out you can double-click — but not in Windows:

“Yes and no. There is an option to right click in Mac OS X.  You can turn this option on in the Keyboard and Mouse Track pad section of System Preferences, then put two fingers on the track pad and hit the button and you’ll get a right click function.

You can also get the same function by tapping the track pad with two fingers instead of one and it does the same thing!  Two finger tapping = right click!) 

BUT - this function is not supported in Boot Camp running Windows.”

Thanks, Apple.  But, how about a solution in for those of us who need to use Boot Camp, too?

Finally, Al Lingor of Mexia, Texas asks:

I currently use a Palm Pilot. [I] use many features and would like to have a combination phone and Palm.

The new Treo 700 switched to a Windows-based Palm operating software, which I am unfamiliar with.

Can I transport all my information from my Palm PDA to the Treo 700?

The answer is yes but you may not have to.

There are actually two Palm Treo 700s. There the 700w which runs on the Windows Mobile OS — and the 700p which sticks with Palm’s software. Both should be able to handle the information from your old Palm.

Currently the 700w is marketed only by Verizon and the 700p by Verizon and Sprint. By the end of the year I expect a GSM version of at least one of these handsets to work with Cingular, T-Mobile and many of the overseas cellular providers.