Digital Tuner

Digital Tuner

On February 17, 2009, Americans will enter the age of digital television — ready or not.


On that date, all full-power broadcast television stations will begin broadcasting only in digital, improving sound and picture quality as well as allowing for stations to offer multiple programming choices, called multicasting.


The government-mandated change will free up needed frequencies for public safety and new wireless communication offerings.


What’s the difference between analog and digital?


Since television was invented, stations have broadcast analog signals, or continuously varying radio waves. The familiar “snow” or ghosting of images is one problem with this way of sending broadcast signals.  Another issue is the limited bandwidth for an ever increasing number of television channels.


After the transition, broadcasts will be sent only via digital signals, which use a series of zeroes and ones to transmit data just as a computer does. The result is clearer, more reliable picture and sound as well as the opportunity for more programming options and interactive features.


Because of how a digital signal transmits information, it has more room for additional data. So now television stations that once broadcast on one channel, such as channel 3, can now broadcast on several segments of that channel, for example: 3-1, 3-2, 3-3, 3-4. Each channel could offer specialized programming for a particular audience.


HDTV is the highest level of digital television quality, but it is not the only one. SDTV, or standard definition television format, is the quality at which basic digital broadcasts will be provided. SDTV offers an enhancement over traditional analog broadcasts, but it is not as sharp as HDTV.


What do I need to do to be ready?


If you have an analog input television and currently receive your television service through cable or satellite, you will continue to receive your current stations without needing to purchase additional equipment.  However, to receive the full, original quality digital signal, you may need to upgrade your set or get special equipment from your service provider. Simply check with your cable or satellite company for more details.


Note that if your service goes out due to weather or other circumstances, you will no longer be able to receive traditional television channels without a digital tuner or digital-to-analog converter box.


If you have an analog input television and receive your signal via an outside antenna or “rabbit ears,” then you will need to purchase a digital-to-analog converter box to be able to continue watch television. Your set will continue to work as before with gaming consoles, DVD players, VCRs and other similar systems.


The new converter boxes are expected to be available in early 2008 and run between $50 and $70. From January 1, 2008 through March 31, 2009, all U.S. households are eligible for a government coupon program to offset $40 of the cost for up to two boxes per household.  A list of eligible boxes is available from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which manages the program.


Aside from buying a converter box or signing up for a cable or satellite service, you could also choose to buy a new digital-input ready television. After May 2007, all new televisions must be ready for receiving digital signals or be clearly marked that additional equipment will be needed.


These next generation television sets are the best way to experience all that digital television has to offer.

About the Author:

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Article Source: ArticlesBase.comDigital Tv: the New Golden Age of Television

Analog or Digital Tuner

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