Digital Television

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This one’s for my non-technical readers.

You may not be aware of this but television in the United States is going to be changing in a big way in the next few years: if you rely on over-the-air transmissions (rabbit ears) to receive television signals your television is going to stop working on or before February 17, 2009. The FCC is requiring that all full-power stations move to digital transmission by next year which means that unless your television is equipped to decode and process digital signals you may begin to experience the “blackout” before the 2009 deadline.

But, there’s no need to panic.

The changeover is dependant on 85% of the receivers in your area being capable of receiving digital transmission, so the deadline could slip by months or years, but it’s an eventuality so be ready.

Now, if you have cable television or use some sort of satellite receiver you have less to worry about because your television will still work just fine. Whenever analog television really does go away you’re going to need to buy some sort of digital receiver to hook up to your old television(s) to get them to pull down signals out of the air.

The thing that I’m less sure about for the future is what’s going to happen when stations broadcast High Definition (HD) programs. Since the dimensions of HD screens are wider than old-fashioned “square” television screens I’m not sure what you’ll get.

Fortunately, I’m led to believe that if you buy a widescreen HD television today you’ll be just fine since they’re already engineered to meet all the requirements for the “television of the future”. But, they’re not all outfitted for the approach of our new television system so don’t be snookered by low prices and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Just imagine how curious people will be thirty years from now when they’re told that we watched television on little square screens. Don’t even try to explain black & white…

Now I’m sure that I’ve left something important out, so do your own research. Here are a couple of good links to get you started:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-definition_television_in_the_United_States

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDTV

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadcast_Flag

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