HDTV means being able to see the sweat trickling down Tiger Woods brow as he makes that tricky final putt. Seeing the individual blades of grass rippling in the breeze. And the excitement of the crowd cheering all around you as if you were really there.

OK, so high definition TV (or HDTV) doesn’t quite live up to the hype. But it is good. And a long overdue development.

Standard definition or ‘normal TV’ pictures are made up of between 480 and 576 horizontal lines depending on where you are in the world. And it’s been that way pretty much since the 1930’s.

Get up close to your TV and you can clearly see the pixels that make up the picture. Your computer screen has a resolution far higher than your TV because you need to use it close up. And still get a clear sharp picture.

HDTV gives us horizontal 1080 lines in the picture, plus more detail in the vertical lines too. I won’t make you do the maths, but it actually means there is 5 or 6 times more detail in the picture than standard definition TV. And that really is something you can clearly see.

But it means more than just extra detail. It also means you can have a bigger TV. If you watch a standard definition broadcast on an enormous TV in a small room, it won’t look good. Yes, the picture will be big, but it will also be fuzzy and blocky because you’re close enough to see the pixels that make up the image. Your eye needs to be further away to be fooled into seeing a smooth image, or the picture needs to be smaller. HDTV gives you more detail and bigger pictures.

But HDTV is not just about the picture, because the sound quality has been greatly improved too. Now you get CD quality sound that may also come in full surround sound just like at the movies. Of course that depends on what you are watching and having the sound system to appreciate it.

There have been many impressive innovations in the TV world over the years, but HDTV is certainly one of the most important. It really is a big leap in the quality of your TV watching experience.