Digital TV FAQ's

What is Digital TV (DTV)?
Digital TV (DTV) is turbo-charged television, yielding clearer pictures, better sound, more programming and more viewing excitement than traditional analog television. Digital TV offers a picture free of “ghosts,” “snow” or interference. The crisper, sharper image is due to the increased number of pixels the digital signal puts on the screen, the higher the number, the sharper the picture and High-definition Television (HDTV) has the highest resolution available. Furthermore, HDTV provides 5.1 channels of Dolby Digital CD-quality surround sound, adding to the ultimate home theater experience. Digital TV also enables broadcasters to multicast, bringing viewers multiple channels of over-the-air programming simultaneously in a Standard-definition Television (SDTV) format.

Why is DTV better than analog TV?
Digital TV brings viewers five times the picture resolution and clarity of analog TV, making viewers feel like they are right in the middle of the action on their screens. Digital TV uses binary code, the same system of ones and zeroes that runs on computers and digitally recorded compact discs. Switching TV broadcasts to digital is like switching from cassette tape to compact disc or from a VHS tape to a DVD, the pictures are clearer, and sound is improved, giving viewers the opportunity to experience their favorite programs on a whole new level. In addition, with a 16:9 aspect ratio compared to today’s 4:3 aspect ratio of analog television, Digital TV lets viewers see much wider images.

Will consumers have to pay to receive DTV Broadcasts?
No. Unlike digital cable where consumers pay monthly fees for services, Digital TV provides high quality programming and more content via free, over-the-air broadcasts.

What about my existing analog TV?
Until the total conversion to Digital TV is made, broadcasters will generally simulcast the same programs on two different channels. One in a digital format and one in analog. Viewers with analog sets will be able to convert a digital signal to an analog signal by hooking up a digital tuner decoder box to their sets; however, they will not be able to experience the crystal clear pictures and sound quality that an HDTV set provides, nor will they experience the advantages of datacasting or interactive television.

What are the different signals that viewers will see on a DTV?
Digital TV gives broadcasters the flexibility to bring viewers programming on different types of digital signals — ranging from high-definition to standard-definition. Digital TV signals have better resolution than analog TV, which has been in use for more than 50 years. High-definition digital signals also have five times the resolution than that of analog. With Digital TV, broadcasters can send various signals to consumers, including: High-definition Television (HDTV) - An HDTV signal allows a broadcaster to transmit a wide-screen picture with many times more detail than is contained in current analog TV pictures. HDTV brings viewers programming so crisp and so clear, it produces an image as sharp as reality. In addition HDTV offers unsurpassed audio quality. Standard-definition Television (SDTV) - An SDTV signal is another type of signal that viewers experience through DTV. While SDTV signals eliminate ghosting and snow they are particularly remarkable because they occupy less space on the allocated spectrum than high-definition signals and bring viewers multiple channels of free, over-the-air programming from the same station.

What to look for when shopping for a new TV set today?
When shopping for a new TV set, consumers today have choices. Please visit www.CE.org for more information. An integrated Digital TV set — This option allows viewers to receive analog and digital signals. An integrated set can project high-definition (HD), enhanced-definition (ED) or standard-definition (SD) signals. An HDTV set has the highest resolution available and provides the ultimate home theater experience. An integrated Digital TV set provides consumers the most convenient, hassle-free way to experience Digital TV. A Digital TV monitor and a separate digital tuner decoder box - This option allows consumers to upgrade to Digital TV when ready. If consumers choose to purchase only a Digital TV monitor, they will get a wide-screen format and improved picture. In order to receive an over-the-air signal with a Digital TV monitor, consumers must purchase a set-top decoder box. These boxes may be used with HD, ED or SD monitors. An analog set - If consumers buy an analog set today, they will not receive any of the benefits of Digital TV, including the clearest pictures and sound ever available. Because an analog set does not have a digital tuner, consumers will have to purchase a digital tuner decoder box to watch Digital TV.

Are the new TV sets readily available?
Digital TV sets are available at both retail stores nationwide as well as online. Like CD players, computers and personal digital assistants, the prices for Digital TV sets continue to drop as the technology becomes more prominent. In fact, prices for Digital TV sets have decreased by 50 percent over the last two years and are available in stores today starting at under $2,000. Equally important, sales of DTV monitors and sets (monitors with integrated tuners) are rising each month. According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the total manufacturer-to-retailer products sold in 2001 totaled 1,459,731 units. Total sales for the year surpassed CEA’s initial 2001 forecasts of 1.1 million units. Between January and March of 2002, the sales of integrated sets and set top boxes had already reached 148,369 units. CEA projects that 2.1 million Digital TV products will be sold in 2002, 5.4 million in 2004, 8 million in 2005 and 10.5 million in 2006.

Do I need to convert to digital right away?
The Digital TV transition is happening now. As of early June 2002, 422 stations in 128 markets, that include 87 percent of American TV households, are broadcasting a digital signal.

If I have digital cable, do I have DTV? If I buy a DTV, will it work with digital cable?
Digital cable is not the same as Digital Television. First, Digital TV can deliver picture quality superior to that of digital cable. Second, most cable companies do not yet carry broadcasters’ digital signals. Digital cable refers only to how signals are transferred across cable. Moreover, because there are not yet universal interoperability standards, a digital set that is plugged into a digital cable set-top box only will receive an analog signal, withholding all the advantages of Digital Television from a consumer.


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