Transition to Digital TV
The Transition to Digital TV
On June 12, 2009 all full-power broadcast television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting on analog airwaves and begin broadcasting only in digital. Digital broadcasting will allow stations to offer improved picture and sound quality and additional channels. Some areas in the nation have already ended broadcasting analog signals and have totally gone digital. If you have cable or satellite service, then you probably don't need to do anything. Ask your cable provider if you are not sure you're digital ready.
What is Digital Television (DTV) you ask?
DTV is an advanced broadcasting technology that enables broadcasters to offer television with better picture and sound quality. It can also offer multiple programming choices, called multicasting, and interactive capabilities.
Converting to DTV also will free up parts of the scarce and valuable broadcast spectrum. Those portions of the spectrum will be used for other services, such as public and safety services as well as other telecommunication services.
TV stations serving all markets in the United States are airing digital television programming today, although most will continue to provide analog programming through June 12. At that point, full-power TV stations will cease broadcasting on their current analog channels. Don't get caught with no signal.
Analog TVs Will Need Additional Equipment
Consumers who rely on antennas (including outside antennas and "rabbit ears") to receive over-the-air broadcast signals on TV sets having only analog tuners will need to obtain separate digital-to-analog converter boxes to watch over-the-air TV. These boxes receive digital signals and convert them into analog format for display on analog TVs. Analog sets connected to such converter boxes will display digital broadcasts, but not necessarily in the full, original digital quality. Purchase a converter box listed below or click the Amazon.com icon to find the right converter box for you.
Digital Converter Boxes
Converter Box Coupon Program
Between now and June 2009, all U.S. households will be eligible to request up to two coupons, worth $40 each, to be used toward the purchase of up to two, digital-to-analog converter boxes. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have the responsibility for administering the coupon program and can be found at www.DTV2009.gov. The coupons can be used at any online or local retailer that sells converter boxes.
Digital Television Quality Levels
There are many quality levels of digital television programming. Educate yourself and understand the differences. Here are the most common types:
Standard Definition TV (SDTV) - SDTV is the basic level of quality display and resolution for both analog and digital. Transmission of SDTV may be in either the traditional (4:3) or wide-screen (16:9) format.
Enhanced Definition TV (EDTV) - EDTV is a step up from Analog Television. EDTV comes in 480p wide-screen (16:9) or traditional (4:3) format and provides better picture quality than SDTV, but not as high as HDTV.
High Definition TV (HDTV) - HDTV in wide-screen format (16:9) provides the highest resolution and picture quality of all digital broadcast formats. Combined with digitally enhanced sound technology, HDTV sets new standards for sound and picture quality in television.
Digital Ready Televisions
What about my portable, battery-powered analog television?
Portable, battery-powered analog televisions can receive over-the-air digital programming if they are connected to a digital-to-analog converter box and a separate broadcast antenna. The battery-powered analog television must have an "antenna in" port in order to connect it to a digital-to-analog converter box. Remember that you will also have to power the converter box when using the potable TV on battery power. Some external battery sources to consider for the converter box are car battery adapters and small power generators.
However, your best bet is to obtain a battery-powered digital television. Battery-powered digital televisions are marked with words such as "Integrated Digital Tuner," "Digital Tuner Built-in," "Digital Receiver," "DTV," "ATSC" or "HDTV." See below or click the Amazon.com icon to find the best portable TV for you.
Battery-Powered Digital Televisions
Need help setting up your new converter box?
- Setting Up Your Digital-to-Analog Converter Box (Basic)
Federal Communications Commission
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