Technology as a way of life

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser...

HDTV - high-definition television: it is something that has been discussed for some time now, however not everyone has a strong sense of what it is and why he or she would want to have it.

Because all television stations will be required to broadcast a digital signal after February 17, 2009, many viewers are beginning to ask a lot more questions about how the new digital age of television will affect their personal viewing experience. They want to know whether or not their television set will be compatible, whether or not they will have to replace it, and what steps they will have to take in order to keep watching their favorite shows.

Although most television stations have been broadcasting a Digital Television Signal now for a few years, analog television owners have been none the wiser. But that will all change on February 17, 2009.

There are in fact three ways that the average consumer can continue to get a television signal using their old television set:

  1. Subscribe to a cable television service (and use their digital television converter);
  2. Subscribe to a satellite television service (and use their digital television converter); or
  3. Buy a DTV converter (Digital TV Converter) to receive signals from your analog antenna and to convert that signal back to analog, so that you can continue to use your analog television.
Understanding The Three Facets Of The New Digital Technology

1. Lines Of Resolution

The newer digital technology is all about Lines Of Resolution. With more lines of resolution, the viewer will receive more image information, therefore bringing the viewer much more picture clarity and detail.
When the Japanese rolled out HDTV on the Japanese mainland, the lines of resolution numbered 1080. To put this into perspective, the standard analog TV signal exhibits 330 lines of resolution. This makes it more than clear that the original analog HDTV format really was a real issue for television broadcasters in the United States. To produce a resolution of 1080 lines on a system designed for 330 lines would have literally required three times the bandwidth of the current analog system.

Here are the standard television resolutions:
  • Analog Television - 330 Lines of Resolution
  • VCR - 240 Lines of Resolution
  • DVDs - 480 Lines of Resolution
  • EDTV - 720 Lines of Resolution
  • HDTV - 1080 Lines of Resolution
There is a caveat to this chart though. The minimum requirement of the FCC is that broadcasters must produce a minimum of 720 Lines of Resolution. As a result, some broadcasters like ABC chose the 720-resolution, and yet they can still legally call their programming standard, HDTV.

2. Aspect Ratio

Another factor connected to the new HDTV-format is the Aspect Ratio.
In a standard analog television, the Aspect Ratio is a 4-by-3, which nearly looks square. The 4-by-3 ratio means that it can be measured 4-parts wide to 3-parts high.
With the new HDTV format, the Aspect Ratio has been changed to the same format seen in the movie theater - a 16-by-9 Aspect Ratio, or 16-parts wide to 9-parts high.

3. Sound Quality

The third factor connected to the new HDTV-format is Sound Quality. In fact, most HDTV programming will carry with it Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, as frequently heard on DVDs. So long as you have a surround sound unit attached to your television set, the surround sound will enable to the television viewer to be immersed in the sound, so much so as it often feels as if you are in the middle of the action happening on your television set.

In Conclusion...

Under the FCC rules for the transition to digital television, television manufacturers were required to include a digital tuner in all television sets manufactured after March 1, 2006.

If you have any lingering doubts about the better HDTV standard, all you need to do is to visit your local television store and see for yourself just how awesome of a picture HDTV actually produces.


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