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Learn All About Digital TV – A Primer For Beginners

Beginning with Luxembourg in 2006, followed then by ten other European countries, the advent of government mandated digital tv began. The United States decision to transition came soon after. The U. S. Required all television stations to move from analog to digital transmission effective June, 2006. 2011 will mark Asia’s entry into the digital tv era with Japan coming on board.

The two main factors for Congress’ mandate to switch from analog to digital were centered around public safety and an improved television viewing experience. The government sought to free valuable bandwidth for services such as fire and police departments. It also wished to provide consumers with higher quality sound and picture. Additionally, the government looked to auction off the newly available bandwidth to those companies providing advanced wireless services.

To facilitate the conversion process the government addressed the need of those people who did not own a digital-ready television. It offered to those owners a coupon, worth up to forty dollars, which could be traded in for a digital converter box. Congress also stipulated that non-digital televisions could not be imported, nor could they be manufactured in the U. S. Retailers still selling analog television stock were required to prominently display at the point of sale a statement informing the customer that a converter box would be required for those sets.

The number of pixels displayed on the screen defines a television’s resolution. It is this attribute that provides the starkest contrast between analog and digital images. Whereas an analog image caps out at about 500 x 400 pixels(the number of discrete points on the screen), a digitally generated image can contain up to a whooping ten times that amount.

Digital tv’s multicasting capability defeats the restriction of one channel per slice of bandwidth. Prior to digital transmission, television stations could only allocate one channel, or program, to a piece of bandwidth. Now with multicasting, a television station can take that same piece of bandwidth and divide it into multiple channels therby offering its viewership more program offerings.

Digital television provides the viewer with more operational and viewing freedom. Those subscribing to cable or satellite can benefit from interactive programming. Now movies-on-demand, and text messaging into live programming using the tv’s remote are possible. Fast-forwarding, pause, slow motion and rewind, not unlike operating a VCR, are also possible.

Today, consumers have four options when considering televisions. Analog TV’s can still be used but require a converter box. A digital-ready set comes with its own converter but will usually lack in picture resolution. An HD-ready set may or may not include a converter which will generally offer good resolution. The most expensive option is the HDTV which will include a digital tuner and will have high resolution. Selecting which type of TV to go with is a matter of budget or other preferences.

The government’s decision to usher in digital tv has had a profound effect. Improved picture quality, enhanced sound, and added features and functionality represent just the start of the digital television revolution. As the technology advances, expect to see even greater improvements.

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