How to Know If My TV Has Digital Capabilities

Written by melissa king
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How to Know If My TV Has Digital Capabilities
Flat screen TVs purchased after 2004 are most likely digital. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Since 2009, digital television, or DTV, has replaced analogue over-the-air broadcast signals. This transition provides viewers with a sharper picture and better overall reception. If you have cable or satellite television, you already receive these digital channels. If you don't, you will need a digital TV to view them. If you purchased your television just before the analogue-to-digital switch, its digital capabilities or lack thereof may not be obvious. A few indicators will help you determine if your TV can receive digital channels.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Determine when you bought the TV. If you purchased a television that was shipped to your retailer after March 1, 2007, it is a digital set. Older televisions that were sitting on the shelf at that time, however, could still be sold but might not be digital. After May 25, 2007, all TVs sold required a label on the box stating whether the unit is digital.

  2. 2

    Check your TV manufacturer's website for information about your specific TV or look in the user's manual, if you have it. Most manufacturer's will indicate that the TV is digital by either saying so in the owner's manual or including information like "HDTV" or "ATSC" on the product packaging.

  3. 3

    Turn on your television. If you don't have cable or satellite, try to select an over-the-air basic channel. If you can see it, your TV is digital; if not, it is analogue. To try this test if you do have cable or satellite, simply disconnect the receiver or turn off its power and then try tuning an over-the-air basic channel.

Tips and warnings

  • If you have an analogue television, you may want to upgrade to a digital set. It's possible to continue seeing digital channels on an analogue TV, though, if you purchase a converter box.

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