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Digital TV FAQs

An intro to Digital TV

You have questions. We have answers!

We often find that our customers have questions about digital TV program signals and screen resolution. So, we’ve compiled a list of the most common questions and answers. We hope these FAQs help you understand your television viewing experience.

What is aspect ratio?

Aspect ratio is the ratio of the width to the height of the TV screen. The aspect ratios differ because the television industry manufactures both standard-screen and wide-screen high-definition TVs to appeal to consumer viewing preferences.

What is digital television?

Digital television (DTV) is a huge leap forward in the television technology compared to analog television that has been available since the 1940s. DTV is delivered and displayed using digital encoding similar to personal computers. By using digital technology, there is no variation in picture and sound quality from the origination point until it is displayed on your television. You always receive a high-quality picture without the wavy lines or static you might sometimes get from a weak analog signal. Some service providers offer on-screen channel information and other various guide data. Another feature of digital television is digital surround sound using digital technology, which is the same technology used to produce the sound you hear in movie theaters.

What is high-definition television (HDTV)?

HDTV is a way to send and receive television broadcast signals. HDTV images are made up of pixels that are much smaller and closer together than those used in standard analog television, and there are millions of them. Thus, HDTV can display five to six times the detail of analog television to deliver picture quality that is much more realistic, dimensional and precise. Standard-definition TV programs can be viewed on an HDTV.

What is standard-definition television (SDTV)?

SDTV is basic digital television programming delivered by your service provider. Typically, the SDTV screen is the same nearly square shape as an analog television screen. Digital images on an SDTV set are crisp and clear—noticeably more so than on a standard analog television set using an antenna to receive over-the-air signals.

What is the difference between a standard-screen and a wide-screen HDTV?

The type of screen your HDTV has (wide screen or standard screen) determines how the receiver displays programs on the screen. The picture format for an HDTV is a combination of aspect ratio and screen resolution and is different for standard-screen and wide-screen HDTVs.

What is the screen resolution?

Screen resolution indicates the amount of detail that the picture displays. Resolution is identified by the number of display lines on the screen. The techniques that an HDTV uses to “paint” the picture on the screen are referred to as progressive and interlaced. With the progressive scanning method, the lines are drawn on the screen one at a time in a sequential order. Progressive scanning results in a more detailed image on the screen and is also less susceptible to the flicker commonly associated with interlaced scanning. The interlaced method involves refreshing pixels in alternation—first the odd lines and then the even lines. A standard screen has a 4×3 aspect ratio: the screen is 4 units wide for every 3 units tall. A wide-screen HDTV is one-third wider than a standard-screen HDTV. The screen is 16 units wide for every 9 units tall.