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Digital Television
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Digital TV: What The Analogue TV Switch Off Means To You

by: Steve Gee

Digital TV replaces analogue TV in the next few years
By 2012 most countries in the world will have made the full transition to digital TV services and switched off their analogue TV broadcasts. Different countries on different timescales will phase in the switch off but for most of us the deadline is rapidly approaching and could get to you sooner than you think. So what does it mean to you?

The Digital TV transition can't be ignored
Colour TV revolutionised TV when it was introduced to the world in the 1960s but it had little immediate impact on our lives when it happened. The analogue colour TV standards were designed to be compatible with existing monochrome signals so nobody had to change their TV equipment unless they wanted to take advantage of the new colour TV broadcasts.

This time things are different. If you are happy today with your analogue TV equipment and you want to continue watching TV broadcasts then you will have to buy new gear. Digital TV is not compatible with analogue TV and no attempt has been made to make it so.

You will need some way of receiving digital TV broadcasts
Your options will be digital satellite TV, digital cable TV or digital terrestrial TV. The most popular choice is likely to be terrestrial reception, which is the way most of us have watched TV for decades. Either way you will need new equipment to receive the digital signals. You might need to upgrade and reposition your terrestrial TV aerial and many people could find that they just can't get a good enough signal from their terrestrial aerial for digital TV to work.

Terrestrial coverage is not 100% by any means and cable is rarely available except in densely populated areas, which means that satellite TV could be your only option.

No more watching one program while recording another
With analogue TV there is a tuner in all your TV sets and in your VCR, which enables you to watch more than one channel at a time and even record one channel and watch another. To do the same thing with digital TV you will need apparatus with more than one digital tuner which means you will likely need to change your VCR for a digital type as well.

There are some excellent subscription services like Sky+ in the UK that provide you with a set-top box equipped with 2 tuners and a hard drive to allow you to record one channel while watching another or even to record 2 channels while watching another recording.

The bottom line is that watching more than one channel at a time will now only come at a cost. You will at least need to buy new equipment and you might have to pay for a subscription also.

The benefits of digital TV
Digital TV will mean better quality pictures and more channels to watch because it requires less bandwidth than the old analogue service. When the analogue signals are switched off and digital services claim the bandwidth that it releases you will see even more services being offered.

It's all at a price but that's progress I guess.

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