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digital television (DTV)

Digital television (DTV) is the transmission of television signals using digital rather than conventional analog methods.

Advantages of DTV over analog TV include:

  • Superior image resolution (detail) for a given bandwidth
  • Smaller bandwidth for a given image resolution
  • Compatibility with computers and the Internet
  • Interactivity
  • Superior audio quality
  • Consistency of reception over varying distances

Digital television is not the same thing as HDTV (high-definition television). HDTV describes a new television format (including a new aspect ratio and pixel density), but not how the format will be transmitted. Digital television can be either standard or high definition.

In the United States, analog television broadcasts will stop in 2009. Analog television sets will require digital set-top boxes to convert transmissions. Most satellite and cable subscribers already have converter boxes. However, people who previously used antennas for "over the air" transmission and cable customers who now plug the cable directly into their sets will need converters.

This was last updated in January 2009

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