How Digital Cable TV Will Transform Your Viewing Experience

As of June, 2009 all television stations in the United States were required to transition from analog signal transmission to digital tv signal transmission. The U. S. Decision to demand a switchover to digital television follows those of ten European nations, beginning with Luxembourg in 2006. It is expected that Japan, in 2011, will be the first Asian country to make the complete conversion to digital.

The U. S. Congress’ decision to mandate the switchover from analog to all-digital television was based primarily on two factors. First, the government’s desire to free up precious broadcast bandwidth for those organizations concerned with public safety such as police and fire departments, and second, to provide viewers a better picture and sound experience. One other consequence of freed-up bandwidth is that some of it can be auctioned off by the government to companies which provide advanced wireless services.

As part of this mandate, Congress stipulated that starting March 1, 2007 all television receivers imported into the United States or manufactured in the U. S. Must have a digital tuner. Additionally, retailers selling analog-only receivers were required to inform consumers in a prominent fashion that the television being sold would require a digital converter box. To assist viewers who only had an analog set, the government made available coupons which could be exchanged for a converter boxes valued up to forty dollars.

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.

Multicasting is another advantage of digital television transmission. In an analog environment only one channel can be allocated to a chunk of bandwidth, whereas in a digital environment that same chunk can be divided into multiple channels. This provides television stations the opportunity to provide more programming to its viewers.

Interactive programming is another advantage of digital television. People subscribing to cable or satellite services will discover enhanced functionality. Example include movies-on-demand, text-messaging via the television’s remote to live television shows, and VCR-type choices such as pause, slow motion and fast forward.

When shopping for a digital television there are four types of televisions available to the consumer. Analog televisions, but these require a converter box, digital-ready sets which include the digital converter(or tuner) but do not offer high resolution, HDTV-ready units which do provide high resolution but may not be equipped with a converter, and finally an integrated HDTV set which provides both high resolution and a tuner. Shoppers cite cost and functionality as their prime decision criteria.

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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