What Do I Need to Buy?
If you live in an area
that has active HDTV stations
shows, then you can buy an HDTV set and enjoy the
benefits of HDTV. In that case you would be a very early adopter.
Currently, the FCC rules state the start-up of digital broadcasts in 2006 and the phasing out of analog
broadcasts at the same time. Right now there are very few stations broadcasting and there is a
digital VCR designed for HDTV. As we get closer to 2006, however, your current analog television set will either have to be replaced or
you will need to buy some sort of set-top box for converting the digital signal.
To really take advantage of HDTV
today, front or rear projection HDTV sets or plasma sets are recommended. Typically, sets with picture
tubes over 40" cannot
fit through the in the doorway of most residences. The price of these sets is extremely high right now -- in the $7,000
range or higher.
Today's HDTV sets come in two forms. HD-ready sets
have the HDTV receiver/decoder built-in, while HD-capable sets require the addition of an external
receiver/decoder needed to receive digital broadcasts. In an HD-capable set, the TV is essentially a monitor. You buy the receiver separately.
Be sure any television receiver you purchase has input jacks that match the connectors on the VCR, cable box,
DVD player and video game console you currently own. For many years you will have to straddle the
digital/analog fence, using, for example, an analog VCR on your digital TV.
At the moment, there are no "standards" for what connections
will appear on the back of an HDTV set. Therefore you should look for composite, S-video and
component video as a minimum set of analog jacks so you can use your existing analog equipment with the new set.
DVD will look better on HDTV sets, but you will not get the highest resolution possible.
DVD video does not really support HDTV, since DVD was developed before HDTV.
DVD's MPEG-2 video resolutions and frame rates are very similar to NTSC formats.
However, DVD can use the 16:9 aspect ratio of an HDTV set.
Eventually the DVD-Video format will be upgraded to an "HD-DVD" format.
If you buy one of todayÂ’s DVD players, it will not be able to play HDTV discs when they come out.
Many early purchasers will have to "go back" to a traditional outside UHF television antenna
to receive the over the air (OTA) HDTV signal.
The HDTV transmission system is a 8-level vestigial sideband (VSB) technique that uses UHF channels.
Your antenna rotor setting for reception of HDTV signals will
be easy to adjust. You either have a picture or you do not -- there cannot be a snowy image with digital technology. There also will not be any "fringe area" reception.
There's no device as yet to allow a consumer to record an
HDTV show off the air, so you will also have to "go back" to watching shows when they are broadcast.
If your local cable company offers digital service, it is really digital cable. Digital cable allows more
channels to fit on the cable and requires a set-top box. However, it is not HDTV.
The present digital cable boxes show more channels, not higher resolution.
The jury is still out on when or how cable companies will carry HDTV signals.
The same is true for existing direct broadcast satellite (DBS) systems.
They use proprietary digital technology. DBS systems currently deliver only NTSC-compatible SDTV signals.
your satellite company to see if they will have HDTV channels.
The least expensive way to see HDTV shows right now is to buy an HDTV converter for your current analog TV.
However, the HDTV shows you see will look no better than DVD on your analog TV -- you will get none of the resolution and
format benefits of a real HDTV set.
HDTV conversion will be a process that unfolds over several years. For example,
Major networks still have to agree on what resolutions they will use. There is no FCC mandate
on resolutions for the networks to follow.
We are witnessing a merging of three huge industries: personal computers, entertainment, and consumer
electronics. Many companies have turf to protect, and a lot of money will be spent on the conversion. That means that the
process will be slow and sometimes uncomfortable. However, the ultimate destination is a significant advance -- remarkably
better pictures and sound for both your TV and your computer!
Lots More Information!
Where to Buy