Archive for the ‘HDTV’ Category

Everything You Need to Know About the Dig­ital Transition

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Confused about the switch to digital television coming near your?

This guide will ease your concerns.

One day soon, TV as we know it will enter a new era: the digital era. While many stations have been broadcasting in digital for the last few years, analog signals will be turned off completely, and only digital broadcasts will be delivered to your TV set. Say goodbye to the analog era of snow and static. You will have no other option as a consumer than to watch digital television, which will impact on consumers watching free, over-the-air analog broadcasts. The transition is going to be a simple affair, despite consumer trepidation. If you have cable or satellite, the transition to digital will actually be completely seamless. More on that later.

The Benefits
Let’s cover some basics first. If you’re confused about the difference between analog and digital, you are not alone. Digital Television, aka DTV, is broadcast in ones and zeros, rather than over the radio waves. Digital TV offers several benefits to the consumer, including:

• Enhanced Picture and Sound Quality. Because digital TV is broadcast in ones and zeroes “all those ones and zeros have to come back together to work, so you don’t lose picture information as the signal travels,” says Pollock. Because digital information is compressed, you also can get a lot more data in a smaller amount of bandwidth, such as 5.1 channels of surround sound for a more immersive audio experience or more lines of resolution for HDTV transmissions, which are inherently sharper, more detailed, and more lifelike.

• Multicasting. In addition to better-quality programming, with DTV, broadcasters will have the ability to multicast. On the old analog spectrum, a broadcaster might have been able to offer one channel on given bandwidth. With digital TV, broadcasters can offer more: More channels and more programming options. “Consumers really won’t have a good understanding of how great multicasting is going to be until they see it,”  “Imagine a station broadcasting in English, another station broadcasting the same content in Spanish or another language.”

• Wireless. The old analogue spectrum, now freed up by TV broadcasters, can be used in ways that we are only beginning to understand. “In addition to things like ubiquitous wireless internet in towns and cities, applications like internet in the car, and faster internet on mobile devices, the analog spectrum can be used in ways we haven’t even thought about. We are just at the beginning of realizing how exciting this could be.”

What You Need to Enjoy DTV
As we mentioned before, if you have cable or satellite TV, you are already reaping the rewards of digital TV. If you have an old analogue TV without a digital TV tuner and are watching over-the-air broadcasts, you need a digital-to-analogue converter box. Take a deep breath, this box is your friend and is very simple to find and set up. It is smaller than a cable box or DVD player, and is available at major retailers across the country. They are inexpensive. Here’s how the box works: Think of the converter as a translator. With an analogue set, the digital signal coming in is like a foreign language to your TV, the box simply translates digital to analogue so you can watch it.

Another exciting aspect of the transition, is that those with analogue sets who buy this digital-to-analogue converter box will essentially be upgrading their TV. “The box offers the ability to use a remote control, which some analogue sets don’t have, adds parental-control capability, and also closed captioning.” “People using 20 year old analogue sets may be among the demographic who now need close-captioning.”

The digital-to-analogue converter boxes are available now. As most stations are already broadcasting over-the-air in digital, you can start enjoying digital TV broadcasts immediately. The only possible drawback is that you will not receive analogue stations that are not yet broadcasting in digital, unless you purchase a digital-to-analogue converter box that passes the analogue signal through as well. This type of converter is also readily available. You will also need to keep your antenna on the roof or bunny ears atop your analogue set to continue to get free over-the-air broadcasts.

How Much Will It Cost?
The next logical question on the lips of most consumers is how much the DTV transition is going to cost. Essentially, it’s free. Over-the-air broadcasts will continue to be free, and other than the minimal cost of the digital-to-analog converter, there will be no additional costs.

Remember that DTV is not necessarily high-definition TV (HDTV). HDTV is a type of DTV with greater resolution. Of course, because the digital spectrum offers the ability to pass high-definition and surround sound, along with greater programming options, you may see more premium channels being offered by your cable or satellite provider, which most likely come at an additional cost. Check with your cable or satellite provider for more information on programming packages.

Do Your Research
As with any transition, the more information you are armed with the better. If you are an analogue TV owner looking into new TVs that include a digital TV tuner, for example, it’s important to know about the products you are considering purchasing. “For a long time, TVs were just big boxes, and the only option was colour versus black and white.”  “With all the increased options available now, it is really important to do research, just like you would before you buy a computer or an audio system. Go online or talk with your local retailer.”