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HDTV FAQs

Q: What does "HD ready" mean? What does "HD compatible" mean?
A: "HD ready" and "HD compatible" means the same thing. It means the TV is compatible with the new digital (DTV) broadcast standards. It also means that the TV does not have a built-in ATSC tuner; which is required for DTV broadcasts. Generally, it means that the TV has the resolution to display High-Definition (HD) broadcasts. You must provide an external ATSC tuner or an HD cable or satellite set-top-box to actually watch HD broadcasts. We have seen retailers selling lower resolution EDTVs as HD-compatible. While misleading, it is not entirely inaccurate, because EDTVs are compatible with HD broadcasts, they just won't display the full HD resolution.
Q: What is EDTV?
A: Enhanced Definition TVs support the new digital (DTV) broadcast standards. They have 480 lines of resolution displayed progressively (480p). Enhanced Definition is found mostly on plasma flat panel displays, typically with a resolution of 852 x 480. While they have less lines of resolution than HDTVs, they still deliver an excellent, high quality image.
Q: Why does regular TV actually look worse on my new HDTV?
A: First of all, the flaws in the lower resolution broadcast are enlarged and become obvious. Broadcasters know what does and doesn't show up in a analog picture, so they can take some shortcuts. However, those shortcuts become glaringly obvious on the large, high resolution screen. Secondly, the lower resolution is processed, or up-converted, for the high resolution screen. When you start with a low quality picture, electronic enhancement circuitry has little to work with and thus the picture doesn't improve and can even look worse.
Q: Can I get HDTV broadcasts off the air?
A: Yes. You can get just as good of quality signal from over the air (OTA) as you can get from cable. The key is that you have a direct line of site to the transmitter, or a good reflection, such as off a mountain.
Q: Do I need a special antenna to get over-the-air broadcasts?
A: No. You don't need a special antenna for HD signals. Use the same antenna you would use for regular television broadcasts. If all the channels are in the UHF range (channels 14 through 83), you need only a smaller UHF antenna. For channels 2 through 13 you need a VHF antenna. We recommend a combination UHF / VHF antenna.
Q: When will digital HDTV completely replace analog broadcasting?
A: The date was pushed back several times. The final conversion took place on June 12th, 2009 with the exception of some low power stations which each have their own scheduled analog broadcast shut off dates. Worldwide, the official end date for analog broadcasts is June 17th, 2015.
Q: Can I use my old analog TV now that broadcasters have switched to digital only broadcast signals?
A: Old analog TVs are rendered useless unless an ATSC digital tuner is used for each analog TV or if you have cable or satellite. Cable and satellite providers provide you with a signal usable directly with the TV or through a cable box. If you don't use cable or satellite, then your analog TVs will need a digital tuner. The government gave out coupons to purchase digital tuners for about $40 each. The limit was two coupons per household, but that program has expired.




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