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What is Digital TV Anyway?

Aug 17, 2007
Digital TV is a means of transmitting picture and sound to your TV set. It is done by converting the pictures and sound into computerised bits of information and compressing it, then transmitting it from as transmitter to your aerial. The signal is then converted back into pictures and sound by your TV using a decoder. Digital TV provides the potential for hundreds of channels and services via a TV. This is because the digital signal is compressed, meaning it takes up less space in the airwaves, unlike the analogue system.

Where as the old analogue system could only provide 5 channels, on digital you can potentially have access to hundreds of channels, as well as extras like a 7-day programme guide and interactivity. The main benefit of Digital TV is the increase in picture quality; digital signals produce a much better picture and higher quality sound. Ghosting images and crackling pictures are a thing of the past, and the best bit is its available to almost everyone.

In order to receive Digital TV on your television you will have to replace or adapt it (unless you have a recently purchased TV). Some brand new TVs come featuring integrated digital Freeview (IDTV), which means they are able to display Digital signals without the use of a separate box. If your TV doesnt have this feature then you will need to attach a set top box to any TVs you wish to adapt using a SCART lead.

Set Top boxes vary in costs depending on the service you require. Non subscription services such as Freeview require a one off payment to purchase the equipment in order to receive more than 30 free channels and other features. Subscription services vary in cost depending on the level you wish to subscribe to, Top up TV provides limited additional channels for a small charge which can paid flexibly each month. Others such as SKY and NTL can provide a much wider selection of services but the charges are much greater and often require a 12 month subscription.

The Digital Switchover is the process by which all television in the UK switches to a digital signal. Analogue signals are inferior to their Digital counterparts and as a result are going to be phased out. In order to make sure that everyone in the UK can receive a digital signal it has to be available for free everywhere. Presently this is possible in only 74% of UK homes, in order for the rest of the country to receive digital signals the existing analogue signal must be switched off.

After switchover at least 98.5% of people will be able to receive digital TV via an aerial. The switchover will begin in 2008 and end in 2012, and will happen one region at a time. In order to make sure that you're ready for the switchover you will need to make sure your TV can receive and process digital signals, either via an integrated tuner or set top box.
About the Author
Chris is a former TV salesman with a passion for technology. Confused about HDTVs and the Digital Era? For more information, Reviews and great deals on LCD and Plasma TV's check out http://www.which-hdtv.co.uk
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