Ten Things You Should Know About Digital TV

There is a lot of misinformation about Digital TV and what the new system means to the average viewer.  The following should provide a simple guide. 

On February 17, 2009, all analog broadcast TV channels (e.g. CET, WCPO, WLWT, WKRC, WXIX, etc.) in the United States will cease operation. The stations and programs will still exist, but on new digital channels.

The US, like the rest of the world, is converting to an all digital system that increases the quality of the picture and sound and makes a much more efficient use of the available electronic spectrum (i. e. available TV channels.)

Eventually you will have to buy a new digital TV since analog sets are no longer manufactured. You may still be able to watch most of your favorite programs on your old analog set.

There are ways to use your old set after February 2009.  1. You can get an inexpensive digital converter that will capture the digital signals off-the-air and convert them to signals your old (analog) TV can display.  2.  You can pay for a cable or satellite service.  The cable and satellite set top boxes already convert digital signals to analog signals.

If you keep your old TV and use a converter, cable or satellite you will not enjoy the vastly superior picture and sound of High Definition TV nor will you have a wide movie-like screen.

Your VCR and DVD player will still work with your old analog TV as will the tapes and DVDs that you now have.  You will be able to connect your current VCR and DVD player to most new digital TV sets, but they will not give you a HD experience.

TV stations will still BROADCAST through the air, and using an antenna, you will still be able to get local stations on a digital TV without cable or satellite.

The new digital TVs come in many sizes.  The sharpness of the picture is a product of screen size and resolution.  TV’s are available in CRT (picture tube), LCD, and plasma and DLP.  Shop with your eyes.

Digital over-the-air channels may provide more than one program at the same time.  For example, CET’s digital channel has both High Definition Programs  and a separate CET World Channel. 

The prices of new digital sets are becoming comparable to the old analog sets. Be sure your new set has an ATSC (digital) tuner!

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6 Responses to “Ten Things You Should Know About Digital TV”

  1. Denny Duplessis Says:

    When it comes to the digital transition, there are a few things nearly everyone is confused about and for good reason. Many of the misconceptions have been started and fueled by those trying to make a buck. Below is my response to an email sent by a visitor to my website. He was under the impression that a special HDTV antenna and an HDTV was necessary to get free over the air TV after the February 17th 2009 analog shutdown date.

    The word HDTV antenna is used very loosely and it applies that there are special TV antennas for HDTV. The fact is HDTV is a format that provides a sharper picture, wider picture on the TV screen, but it’s more of a format then it is a signal. The type of signal that can carry the HDTV format is a digital signal. Digital signals for the most part are transmitted in the same manner as analog signals. The big difference between the two is the digital signal is data, 0’s and 1’s and it takes up a lot less frequency space to broadcast. Think of digital signal as a code that’s deciphered by the digital tuner. The same over the air frequencies are used to broadcast both analog and digital signals. However, the digital code is much more efficient and can fit in a smaller space. This allows digital signals to carry more information and provide you with sharper pictures, more channels, on screen programming guides, and who knows what in the future. To produce an HDTV picture requires more information be sent to the tuner and the analog signal can’t carry the amount of information required for HDTV, but the digital signal can.

    TV antennas are designed to receive certain frequencies, VHF channels 2-13, UHF channels 14-69, or a combination of both VHF and UHF. Choosing a TV antenna for digital/HD reception is not much different then choosing an antenna for analog reception. Since digital signals are broadcast on both VHF and UHF frequencies just like analog, the same antennas are used to receive both the digital and analog signal. If you haven’t already, I suggest that you visit a page I wrote called “HDTV Antenna or Digital TV Antenna” – It doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s still a TV antenna and you better choose the right one. http://www.dennysantennaservice.com/2029710.html

    Also, you don’t have to have an HDTV to receive the digital signals. I get upset when I hear people who are in a position of expertise say, “you have to have an HDTV to get TV after the analog shutdown in 2009″, this simply isn’t true. Just recently I heard these very words spoken by a guest expert on one of the network morning shows. To receive over the air TV after February 17th 2009 all you will need is a TV with a digital tuner built-in, not necessarily an HDTV. Although most HDTV’s have digital tuners built-in and will receive the signal, there are standard TV’s available everywhere with built-in digital tuners for much less money, You can get a 27” digital TV that will work fine after the 2009 deadline, provide you with a better picture then your old analog set, for less then $200.00. You can also get a digital set top tuner for your current analog TV that will convert the digital signal back to analog signal for your current TV. The Federal government will soon be offering $40.00 coupons towards the purchase of a set top digital tuner. I can’t even imagine how much money is being wasted on HDTV’s when the consumer would have been satisfied with a standard digital TV had they known. Yes, there are those who want HDTV, but many more are buying them because they think they have to.

    The bottom line is, (1) HDTV antennas don’t exist and you don’t need a special TV antenna to receive digital broadcasts. (2). You don’t have to buy an HDTV to receive free over the air TV after the analog shutdown on February 17, 2009, a digital set top tuner for your current TV or a standard TV a DTV with a built-in tuner is all that’s needed.

    Denny Duplessis
    TV Antenna Source

  2. emmy Says:

    I love my old analog (no cable) TV ’cause it’s just the right size and shape for the bookcase, and it also has good FM radio reception. I also have jerryrigged a DVD/VCR recorder into it, though it wasn’t actually designed for this (long story–never mind). In order to make it all work sharply, I have an HDTV antenna hooked into the DVD/VCR, but I also have to correctly adjust the rabbit ears on the TV itself. *Both* antennas need to be adjusted correctly in order for all this to work. I know this ’cause the cat sometimes readjusts the rabbit ears when I’m gone, and the recorded TV doesn’t come out well in these cases. So, I’m assuming that I need converters for *both* the VCR and TV, since I appear to be receiving signals over both. Not to mention the more conventional, old but large and quite serviceable, TV upstairs. I’ve held out against the cable companies all these years, and am not about to go that route now. I have some friends who are planning to just unplug from TV in 2009, so maybe that’s the best option for me, rather than buying a bunch more junk–which may or may not work–to hook into this mess.

  3. jdominic Says:

    You will only need one converter as long as you don’t want to watch one program while recording another. Just place the converter between the antenna and the input for the VCR. That way all the channels coming in to the VCR and on to the TV will be convereted to either view live or record.

  4. hudson Says:

    i have a lcd 42″ tv. i do not get a HD SIGNAL . I CALL my dishnetwork provider and they said it would cost me $20.00 a month to get HDTV signal.

    won’t all the signals be HD FEB .9TH 2009? THANK YOU, HUDSON

  5. Kim Winger Says:

    I’m confused. Does (can) my VCR change the signal from Analog to digital now and if so, can I use the VCR instead of buying the converter?
    I’ve noticed that when when I go thru the VCR the channel thats broadcasting in digital allows the TV to have additional information at the bottom of the screen (program name) does this indicate it is receiving the digital signal?
    Apart from the clarity of the picture, is there any other way to know if I’m recieving a digital signal to my TV?

    Thanks to anyone who can answer.
    kimwinger6@yahoo.com

  6. Russ Says:

    I hate to throw a wrench into all this nice DTV euphoria, but… As it turns out, we are not getting the whole picture here. We have been grossly misinformed.

    We have been told that all you need is either a converter box, or a newer DTV ready TV and that whatever channels you receive now, you will be able to receive when the big change takes place in 2009.

    Sorry, NOT TRUE. As of February 2009 all VHF channels will go off the air. Yes you heard me right. All channels 2 through 13 will cease to exist. Oh yes your new TV (or old TV + converter box) will say you have tuned to channel 4 or channel 9 etc. but this is deceptive. Each broadcast station which had previously broadcasted on a VHF channel will be able to send a digitally encoded message which falsely claims to be one of the old VHF channels, but is in fact a new UHF channel.

    How does this effect you? Well is some cases it won’t. But that’s only if you live in or near a big city were you can easily receive UHF. If you live farther away, even if you were able to receive a perfect VHF analog signal, after the big change, you could end up getting no reception at all. Why is this? You might ask. Well two reasons. 1.) VHF was a much better frequency band for television, it is why it was chosen in the first place, and why the corporations that pushed for this change wanted it for their own uses. 2.) UHF is a much shorter wavelength and needs direct line of site access to the transmitter. Things like trees and buildings will block out the signal from reaching your antenna.

    Bottom line is, If you don’t get excellent UHF reception in your area, your hosed. You can try a roof mounted UHF (forget the VHF) antenna with a rotor and a UHF pre-amp, and good luck.

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