Difference Between Analogue & Digital TV

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Difference Between Analogue & Digital TV
Digital TV has improved functioning and picture quality. (tv monitor image by IKO from Fotolia.com)

As of June 12, 2009, all television providers in the United States switched their service from analogue to digital. The main difference between the two formats is the way the signals are transmitted and received from the broadcaster to the receiver. For example, to receive digital TV consumers now require a converter box or a TV with a built in consumer box.

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Reception Quality

Analogue TV signals are broadcast in a fashion that can be likened to radio signals. The signal is much weaker and as a result certain channels may experience interference, snow or distortion based on how far the TV is from the broadcast source. Digital TV sends information in coded bits, like an Internet connection would. There is no such thing as a weak digital TV signal, the signal either works or does not. It either is receiving full picture quality or is not. The digital converter box acts like a modem and communicates with the broadcaster and verifies what bits have arrived. This ensures that no quality is lost and creates a stronger signal than analogue.

Picture Quality

Due to the weak signals of analogue TV, the format was restricted to NTSC (National Television System Committee.) NTSC is a set of criteria for TV signals of "525 line, 60 fields per 30 frames per second at 60 Hz system." This format is restricting as all signals must conform to this standard. Digital TV on the other hand can accept HDTV, PAL (Phase Alternating Line) and other formats. The only real limitation is that of the broadcaster and cable converter. Digital TV also allows signals to be broadcast in widescreen 16 by 9 resolution.

Other Information

Analogue TV signals only carried the standard NTSC video/audio signal. Digital TV however can transmit a whole host of information, including text, images and variety of audio and video formats. For example, a digital converter box can receive information regarding current programming and allow viewers to learn more about the programming available to them.

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