Digital Television

Posted by Mike Merritt in Technology, Television on

As I’ve surfed the Internet these past months, I’ve noticed a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding being spread about the switch to DTV. It’s really a shame, since the switch is government-ordered, yet they have barely taken the time to inform the public until very recently. So, to hopefully clear a few things up, I’ve decided to explain a few things. I’ll present it in FAQ style:

  • What is DTV?
    • DTV stands for Digital Television. There are several kinds of digital television, such as digital cable, but the switchover next year concerns the type that will be broadcast over-the-air. Over-the-air digital television is sent using digital signals rather than the traditional analog signals.
  • How will the switchover affect me?
    • That’s just it…it may not. The people who should pay the most attention are those still getting their TV over-the-air. Many people this day in age get their TV via cable or satellite service. They don’t need to worry (well, probably not, see below). Those who need to worry most are the people who are using a big ‘ol antennae on top of their house or rabbit ears connected to their TV.
  • Ok, so I’m one of those people. What do I need to do?
    • Well, it depends on when you got your current TV. If it was in the past couple years, you should be set. All TVs in the past couple years were legally required to have digital tuners built in. Check your TV’s manual to see if this is the case. If it does, you’re all set, ready to join the digital revolution. If this is not the case, your manual should notify you. In some cases, you’ll probably know your TV is pretty old.If this is the case, you will need to buy either a new TV, or a digital tuner box. Now, you can probably find a decent TV with a digital tuner, but they are becoming more rare, with the industry focus on HDTVs. You could also buy an HDTV, if you have the money. Otherwise, or if you don’t want to buy a new TV, you will need a digital tuner box. Basically, the box converts the digital signal coming into your antennae into an analog signal before it reaches your television. It’s essentially the external equivalent of what all new TVs have.Need help buying a converter box? This past January, the federal government started offering a coupon program. Go to the government’s DTV website for information on how to sign-up for the program.
  • So, will I get HDTV quality with this converter box thing?
    • Not necessarily. If it so happens you have an HDTV and are using it with DTV, that’ll be the case. However, I do believe that most people who have an HDTV will already have HD service through their cable or satellite provider. However, you’ll also be able to pick up DTV signals (with an antennae), and see them in HD. Standard definition televisions will get a better picture, because the DTV signal if all or nothing, with no grey, snowy area in between. However, you will not get HD quality.
  • You said earlier if I was on cable, I may need to pay attention. Why?
    • This is a possibility. Cable services are not mandated to go digital like over-the-air broadcasts are. However, some cable companies may take it upon themselves to go digital, in which case you’d probably need a converter box from that company. However, this is something you will need to check with them about. My guess is that most will probably keep their analog services, meaning that you’ll only need your trusty coax cables. Digital cable services are definitely getting more popular, but I don’t think they’ve reached the mainstream yet where cable companies are going to entirely abandon the old basic cable plans. However, don’t take my word for it. They’re the final say on this.

There. I hope I was a little bit helpful on this whole transition thing. If anybody has further questions, feel free to post it, and I’ll find out what answer I can, or redirect you to a more proper channel (no pun intended), if I cannot.

For all the information above, the DTV converter box sign-up, and more, visit http://www.dtv2009.gov

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