DTV Transition: FAQs
Here's a list of some common questions and answers related to the analog-to-digital transition, coming on June 12, 2009.
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June 08, 2009 by Kim Wilson

GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT DIGITAL TELEVISION (DTV)

Are some networks sending digital signals now?Yes, all major networks (ABC. CBS, NBC) and over 1500 local stations across the country are currently broadcasting digital TV, covering over 99% of the U.S.

Are HD broadcasts already digital?
Yes, high definition broadcasts are always transmitted digitally.

Are DTV and HDTV the same thing?
No.  HDTV, or high definition television, is the highest quality digital television (DTV) available, offering more than five times the sharpness of today’s analog television, along with digital surround sound capability.  DTV is also available as EDTV (enhanced definition TV) or SDTV (standard definition TV), each with improved pictures and sound over today’s analog televisions.

What do DTV sets look like and what will they cost?
Most DTV sets have wider, more rectangular screens than analog TVs. This widescreen format allows for images that are more like those shown in a movie theater. Like current TV sets, a range of sizes is available.

As with most new consumer electronics technologies, DTV sets have become less expensive since their introduction. Prices are expected to continue to decrease over time and will vary depending on screen size, display technology, and other features.

Will I be able to use parental controls like the V-chip with digital TV the same way I now can with my analog TV?
Yes. The V-chip is a technology that enables parents to block television programming based on a program’s rating. The ratings are encoded within the television signal. The V-chip reads the encoded rating information of each program and blocks shows according to the parents’ blocking selections. FCC rules require that V-chips be built into digital televisions and other DTV reception devices just as they are in analog televisions. You can learn about the ratings system, also known as “TV Parental Guidelines,” at www.fcc.gov/vchip.

I already have a digital TV. I occasionally see the breaking up of the pixels. Will this still happen? What causes this?
Yes this could still happen as the cause of this is usually a weak signal, most commonly the result of bad weather such as rain or snow. However, extremely hot weather causes high atmospheric pressure, which can also affect signal strength.

If you are using an antenna (not a pay TV subscriber), check that it’s not blocked by another house or large tree. Your antenna should be mounted as high as possible with nothing blocking it. Digital signals are more sensitive than analog and need a direct line of sight to the transmitter. The problem could also be your built-in digital tuner as some are more sensitive than others.

While analog pictures will get ‘noisy’ or show ghosting or wavy lines in the background when there is a poor signal, a weak digital signal results in picture break up, freezing and sometimes complete signal loss.

Check your TVs set up menu and see if there is a “signal condition” or “signal strength” option. These normally show two scales: Signal Strength and Signal Quality. Both should be well into the top half of the scale to guarantee good pictures.

If I purchase a new TV, what can I do with my old TV? Will the trash man take it? Are there recycling programs?
The trash man will take it if you call the city and ask for a ‘bulky’ pick up. However, if you are thinking green, the likelihood is the trash man is only going to dump it in some landfill. Donating or recycling your TV is a far better choice and there are many organizations that you can find online that recycle old electronics.

Here are a some recycling options:
Offering residential and business pick up services, www.ynotrecycle.com, provides information and contact information for getting rid of your E-Waste. 1800gotjunk.com sponsors E-Waste Events throughout the U.S. and Canada. Go to their site to see where the next event is near you. Learn about disposal options and locate recycling programs near you: www.mygreenelectronics.org.

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