Going extreme

While High Definition (HD) content certainly looks the business, it won't remain state of the art for long. So if you’re curious about its pixel-powered successor, read on as Windows Middle East introduces you to 'Extreme Definition'…

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By  Matthew Wade Published  June 13, 2007

|~||~||~|Widescreen HD (High Definition) 1080p video content, which runs at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels offers stunning visual quality and detail when compared to SD (Standard Definition) video. (This is a point of worry for looks-conscious celebrities who worry that detailed HD content shows imperfections on their skin.) Although the HD standard and accompanying content has not been around for very long, it has already been surpassed. The term XHD (Extreme High Definition) refers to content that runs at a resolution higher than 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixel) HD. Presently, the highest resolution offered by XHD stands at 2560 x 1600 pixels, which companies claim offers over double the clarity of 1080p content. It’s worth noting however that 1920 x 1200- and 1680 x 1050-pixels are also classed as XHD resolutions and these too offer more detail and clarity when compared to 720p, 1080i and 1080p content. At present most LCD- and Plasma-TV screens on the market don’t support higher than 1080p HD. Moreover, other than the odd movie trailer, there is very little XHD content in terms of movies and TV shows. For now then, the only way to really experience XHD is on the PC via games. Unfortunately, as even the lowest XHD resolution is quite high at 1680 x 1050-pixels, you’ll need some fast kit to maintain playable frame rates in today’s games. If you want the full 2560 x 1600 pixels shebang however, you’ll have to dig even deeper into your piggy bank to buy the full list of elite components. Gear up The only LCD screen that we know off on the market to offer a native XHD resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels is Dell’s UltraSharp 3007WFP, which itself retails for over $1500. This is a PC LCD only however and cannot be connected to digital TV tuners and, as it lacks a HDMI port or component inputs, you cannot connect it to standalone playback hardware, such as a Blu-Ray or HD DVD players either. Besides this LCD, you’ll need a machine capable of running your games at this colossal resolution; meaning a super fast processor, gobs of memory and a fast graphics system. Despite today’s extremely quick single GPU solutions, you will no doubt need to invest in a SLI or CrossFire multi-GPU configuration to maintain playable framerates. From an AMD standpoint, its newly launched R600 graphics cards running in CrossFire mode will prove a good starting point for XHD gaming. If you’re a nVidia fan however, opt for a member of the GeForce 8800 series. If you’re interested in building a rig that’s ready for anything however splurge on two GeForce 8800 Ultra cards. A number of today’s games such as F.E.A.R, Supreme Commander and many more already support running in XHD resolutions as high as 2560 x 1600, so once you’ve got all the hardware, you’ll be able to get busy straight away. There are even hacks for older titles so you can force them to run in XHD and see them as never before. ||**||

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