What is HDTV? What is Digital Television? What is DTV?

What is HDTV?

HDTV – stands for High Definition TV and while the FCC does not have a standard definition for HDTV, it is widely agreed upon that HDTV is defined as having higher quality video, audio and a wider image aspect ratio than standard television broadcast signals.

After the transition to color TV in the 1950s and ’60s, nothing has had as much impact on the TV world as HDTV (high-definition TV) and digital TV. That’s right, TV is going digital, following in the footsteps of, well, everything. We’re in the early days of this transition — a lot of TV programming is still all-analog, for example. And this stage of the game can be confusing, with an alphabet soup of acronyms, changing technologies, and emerging standards.
More than 50 years ago, a group called the NTSC (National Television System Committee) put together a group of technical specifications and standards that define television as we know it today. Sure, there have been some changes in those 50 years (such as the addition of color), but today’s analog TVs are built on this NTSC system.


In the 1980s, the ATSC (Advanced Television System Committee) was formed to move TV forward.
Many years later (1996), the ATSC’s recommendations for a digital-television system were adopted by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission — the folks who set standards for TV broadcasts, regulate phone companies, and fine Howard Stern). ATSC standards use newer-than-1953 technology to give you TV like you’ve never had before:

Widescreen images like those in the movies
Greater detail — up to six times more detail
Sharper images
Smoother, more filmlike images with no video flicker
All digital, with none of the “ghosts” and other image problems found in analog TV
Understanding video standards
HDTV (and digital TV, or DTV, in general — there are some digital TV variants that are not high-definition, and we discuss them in this section) is all about giving you a bigger and better picture, better audio, and generally making your TV-watching experience more like a movie-watching experience. In fact, at its best, HDTV is so realistic that it’s often described as “looking through a window” — as if you’re really there, not just watching a program.

There are three essential concepts to understand when you are comparing different video standards:

Resolution: the number of individual picture elements that make up a TV image. The higher the resolution, the more detailed the image, and the sharper the image will appear.
Resolution is defined by one of two factors:• Lines (the number of left-to-right lines the TV can display). CRT-based TVs (tube TVs) are rated this way.

Pixels (the number of pixels across the screen times the number up and down). Fixed-pixel displays (plasmas, LCDs, DLPs and the like) are rated this way.

How to Calibrate HDTV?
Calibrating your HDTV gives you the best picture, whether you have an LCD or plasma television. No need for a professional calibration; you can do it yourself. Follow step-by-step instructions in this video tutorial:

Scan Type comes in two forms:
Interlaced scan: These TV images are created by lighting up every other row of horizontal lines on the screen in one instant, and then going back through and lighting up the remainder of the lines in the next instant. It happens so fast that your eye can’t really tell it’s happening.

Progressive scan: These systems light all the horizontal lines in the same instant, which can make the image seem “smoother” and more like film (or real life).

Aspect Ratio (the shape of your TV picture):
Traditional TVs have a 4:3 aspect ratio (screen shape). This means that for every 4 units of measure across the screen, you have 3 units of screen height. For example, if the screen is 12 inches wide, it will be 9 inches high.

HDTVs have a 16:9 aspect ratio — which makes the screen relatively much wider for the same height, compared to a 4:3 TV. Most movies are widescreen (16:9, or even wider), so HDTVs can display most movies without the annoying “letterbox” black bars on the top and bottom of the screen.

HDTV standards
There isn’t a single “HDTV” standard out there. Instead, ATSC contains many different TV standards (with different resolutions, aspect ratios, and scan types) — 18, in fact. Some of these standards are truly HDTV; most are not. In the real world, you will deal with four standards when you try to watch TV content on your HDTV. The two primary HDTV standards are these:

720p: This provides 720 lines of resolution with progressive scan (hence the p). By comparison, NTSC has less than 480 lines of resolution. 720p uses a 16:9, a widescreen aspect ratio.
1080i: This variant (the highest resolution within the ATSC standard) uses interlaced scanning, but provides 1080 lines of resolution. 1080i is also widescreen, with a 16:9 aspect ratio.
There is actually a higher HDTV variant in the ATSC standard — 1080p, which is a progressive scan variant of 1080i. Only a few HDTV projectors (in the $40,000 and above price range) can handle this variant, and we know of no material that is broadcast or otherwise available as 1080p. So don’t worry about it.
True HDTV performance requires at least 720p performance. If a TV program, movie, or other content is not at least 720p (either 720p or 1080i), it is not HDTV. If a TV can’t display at least 720 lines of resolution, it is not HDTV-capable.

If a salesperson tries to tell you that an inexpensive plasma set, regular DVD, regular digital cable, or regular satellite TV “is” HDTV just because it’s digital, it’s not so.
Compatible DTV standards
720p and 1080i are the two HDTV standards, but you’ll also find a lot of digital TV material will be broadcast at lower resolutions that don’t quite make the grade as HDTV. You can still watch this programming on your HDTV — in fact, most HDTVs will make this programming look better than it does on a regular TV — but remember: That stuff is not really HDTV.

480p (EDTV): This enhanced-definition TV standard provides higher-than-NTSC resolution, with progressive scan (NTSC is interlaced). EDTV can be (and often is) 16:9 widescreen, but it is not required to be widescreen.
480i (SDTV): This is interlaced, non-widescreen (4:3), standard-definition TV, equivalent to NTSC analog broadcasts.
Remember these different terms — HDTV, EDTV, and SDTV — when shopping. They will often be in the product descriptions; you need to know exactly what you’re buying.

How do I get HDTV?
Anyone that owns a high definition television can get high definition content. You have three options: over-the-air signals, cable or satellite. Over-the-air signals are those that a typical rooftop antenna would receive…only these signals are digital and encoded in HD. Over-the-air signals are free to receive. The only cost out of pocket would be for the equipment needed to receive them. To receive HD programming from your cable or satellite provider you would need to subscribe to their HD package. This subscription is not free. The provider might require a minimum length of service.

Does owning a HDTV mean that I am watching in high definition?

No. Owning a high definition television is just the first step in watching HD content. The second step is to acquire a HD tuner. The tuner is either built into the television or an external set-top box. The set-top boxes can be bought in stores, but most will come from the cable or satellite provider. The third step is to either subscribe to a HD package or buy an antenna for over-the-air reception. Once steps one, two and three are in place then it is up to you to turn to the HD channel to get started watching high definition programming. And, this is only when the signal on the HD channel is delivered in high definition.
How to get free HD Channels?:

Digital Transition Story. TV History. What is DTV Transition?

Guide to Digital TV and Digital Radio.

Consumer Guide to Digital Transition and DTV FAQ
TV History – History of Televisoin and Analog to Digital Transition

CONSUMER AWARENESS IS UP 80 PERCENT SINCE 2006, SAYS CEA Government and Industry Education Campaign Ensuring a Successful Transition On June, 2009, the nation will switch over to digital broadcasting. Analog TV will be a thing of the past. The promise of an all-digital world is at hand. Consumer awareness of the transition to digital television (DTV) grew 80 percent since 2006, according to new market research released by the consumer electronics association (CEA). CEA also released new survey results that predict the success of the national telecommunication and information administration (NTIA)’s converter box coupon program which launched in January and was prominently featured at the 2008 international CES. Converter boxes are only needed for consumers who watch over-the-air broadcasts on an analog television. CEA’s survey found only 11 percent of television households – approximately 13 million – are solely over-the-air households, indicating that NTIA has sufficient converter box coupons to meet potential demand.

What is DTV Transition?:

Digital TV

Digital Television (DTV) is an advanced broadcasting technology that will transform your television viewing experience. DTV enables broadcasters to offer television with better picture and sound quality. It can also offer multiple programming choices, called multicasting, and interactive capabilities.

What is DTV?

Digital television (DTV) is an innovative type of over-the-air broadcasting technology that enables TV stations to provide dramatically clearer pictures and better sound quality.

DTV is more efficient and more flexible than the traditional way of broadcasting known as analog. For example, DTV makes it possible for stations to broadcast multiple channels of free programming all at once (called multicasting), instead of broadcasting one channel at a time. DTV technology can also be used to deliver future interactive video and data services that analog technology can’t provide.

What is HD Radio™?

HD Radio is an upgrading of the way AM and FM radio signals are transmitted, from analog to digital signals. Sounds neat. But what does that mean for us listeners?

HD Radio technology allows broadcasters to transmit a high-quality digital signal. For listeners who have an HD Radio receiver, the benefits are:

  • FM radio with near CD-quality sound
  • AM radio that sounds as good as traditional FM
  • No more static, pops, crackles or fades
  • Transmission of additional information, such as song titles and artists
  • Increased listening options with multicasting
  • Tagging a song for later purchase