A Year Later: The Digital Transition

June 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Industry News, Technology News

It seems like the digital switchover was on our pages every other day for a few months, and now its been a year since the changeover officially happened. The good news: many made the switchover pretty seamlessly. Many either bought a new HDTV and/or got cable/satellite, so most were fairly unaffected by the change, and we’re reaping the rewards in terms of more new HD channels and content.

More thoughts courtesy of Engadget:

The electronic shopping site Retrevo has been thinking about it though, and has put a survey out to its users and compiled the results of over 200 respondents. Now you know how much we love consumer surveys about electronics, but in this case the numbers look to be in line with our expectations. Overall people think the transition was a good thing, but that number is exactly 1 percent lower than those who say they were unaffected — figures. 19 percent of respondents bought a new TV and 13 percent just got cable or satellite instead. Seems likely enough. But our favorite is the 9 percent who bought a converter box but then never bothered to even hook it up; real nice use of tax payer funds.

The odd number is that 23% don’t think the transition was a good thing. What a strange thought. Digital is the future of most everything, so you would assume those are just people annoyed at having to get with the times.

Call Overload: FCC logs 55,000+ calls after test analog shutoff

May 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Industry News

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dtvcountdown011909It appears June 12th may be quite the nightmare for the FCC, based on a recent analog signal shutoff test performed, to test the readiness of the general public to the digital transition.

The test was reportedly performed May 12, and it spurred a staggering 55,000 calls to the FCC’s helpline.

It’s safe to say that June 12th will shatter even more call records, as the few million or so still unready will be calling in, trying to figure out what happened. It’s simply amazing that after all the ads, promos and spots run for this transition, detailing the ins and outs and what you need to be ok, people still are clueless. We can’t understand it at all.

Hopefully the call logs won’t be overflowing that day, but we won’t count on it.

Choosing The Signal With Your New HDTV Part II

September 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Knowledge Base

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Why EDTV is better than SDTV.

EDTV, or enhanced-definition televisions offer a 480-line image with progressive scanning (480p). This is achieved using digital circuitry, called a de-interlacer, to show the two half-frames of an SDTV image at once. EDTV doesn’t give you any more picture information than SDTV. It simply gives it to you in one full frame 30 times a second, instead of one field (half-frame) 60 times a second. Although this might not sound like a great improvement, but in actuality it is. It reduces the flicker and jaggy image artifacts, making a perceptibly smoother picture. In addition, many higher-end EDTV sets display 60 frames per second (fps), by flashing each 30-fps image on the screen twice. Again, that might not sound too impressive, but these sets use software to further smooth out the motion differences between frames. The result is a picture that’s as good as you can coax out of standard TV signals.

When is enhanced-definition good enough? It’s as good as you can get out of current DVDs without artificial up-scaling. If DVDs comprise your main programming source, an EDTV set might suffice unless you’re watching lots of HD programming from your cable or satellite provider, then you’ll really want a full HDTV.

Why HDTV is the best.

HDTV, high-definition television, offers the highest quality picture and is the real reason to get a digital TV. An HDTV picture contains at least five times the pixel count of an SDTV picture, but the image quality seems even greater. There’s no way to understand HDTV’s truly magnificent difference in quality until you’ve actually seen it, at an electronics store or possibly at your neighbor’s house. Until then, imagine the sharpest, brightest digital still photo, on the biggest, clearest computer monitor that you’ve ever seen. Then imagine this image in full motion with booming stereo sound from the appropriate surround sound speakers. Compared to HDTV, analog TV and SDTV look like muddy lo-res scans of digital still photos.

HDTV signals come in several varieties. The ATSC has set standards for 6 (out of 18 total) digital TV levels; all HD sets can display them all. Here’s a look at the most important ones:

720p and 1,080i: Most HDTV programming uses one of these. The former, 720p, offers less motion blur; the latter, 1,080i, offers more image detail. ABC, Fox, and ESPN transmit HD shows in 720p while most other HD programming sources have opted for 1,080i.

• 1,080p: Most of the newer TVs can also display 1,080p (that’s right, 1,080 horizontal rows of pixels with progressive scanning), even though there’s no 1,080p programming from cable or satellite sources yet, and ATSC broadcast standards don’t support it. Currently your only source for true 1,080p data is in the form of Blu-ray disc formats as the HD-DVD format failed in the HD disc format war.

Unlike the 480p reception of EDTV, 1,080p transmissions would carry twice the data of 1,080i. Although there are plenty of great televisions available on the market that offer 720p and 1080i resolution at an affordable price, 1080p is currently the ideal choice in television. Sharp and other companies are calling their 1,080p models Full HD. Television makers claim these TVs have the capability to up-convert 720p and 1,080i signals which makes them a great value even in the absence of native 1,080p programming. 1080p programming and televisions are where you want to be when it comes to the best picture, with some industry observers claiming that 1,080p, if properly shot and edited, could be comparable to the quality of 35mm movie film.

Choosing The Signal With Your New HDTV Part I

August 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Knowledge Base

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With the transition to digital television coming in February 2009, many consumers are confused about television compared to the electronics industry’s early efforts to keep TV simple, straight-forward and easy to use. There is a baffling array of standards and acronyms that determine the type of digital television, it’s resolution and to what degree it is truly digital. If you’re like most consumers, you keep a TV for a longer period than you keep a personal computer, so even if you’re buying on a budget, try not to settle for a lesser standard than you can imagine yourself wanting in the near future. We explain the three choices of SDTV, EDTV, and HDTV with the following table which summarizes the technical details.

[TABLE=1]

Note: All HD and HD-Ready sets display 480i, 720p, and 1,080i signals, and convert them to match the sets’ resolution. Some convert 480i signals into 480p.DTV a.k.a. SDTV: Good

Plain vanilla digital TV, also known as SDTV, offers a 480-line interlaced image which is indicated by an “i” after the resolution. This is equal to the old 525-line analog TV, and it’s what most cable and satellite channels (and most of the non-prime-time schedules on broadcast channels) currently broadcast.

Why is 480 as good as 525?

Because early cathode-ray tube (CRT) receivers needed time for the electronic beam to reset itself from the bottom to the top of the screen. So the engineers and bureaucrats who set the NTSC standard built in a vertical blanking interval of 45 lines between the image frames. On an old set with faulty vertical hold, you could see this interval as a sort of stretched-out Chevrolet logo shape as the image frames scrolled up or down. In later years, broadcasters have used this blank space to transmit closed-captioning and other data. Despite having the same horizontal resolution, SDTV is still better than analog TV, for some of the same reasons that DVDs are better than VHS video tapes. SDTVs images are clearer and its colors are more stable.

Who should you buy DTV or SDTV?

If you’re on a tight budget or simply buying a secondary television for a kitchen, bedroom or home office, or planning to use your set to watch only standard-definition signals, then an SDTV set might be good enough, at least in the short term. However you will want to at least investigate the benefits of an HDTV or even an enhanced-definition TV, especially if you expect that you will be using it for years to come.