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On February 17, 2009, the Congress of the United States mandates the full shift to digital television transmission. The law is perceived to bring several benefits to the US viewing public. Broadcast frequency bands will be available mainly for public safety purposes, for example, police and fire department concerns. Remaining portions of the old TV broadcast spectrum can be offered for technologically advanced applications such as wireless broadband.
The use of digital-capable television sets allows American viewers more choices of what programs to watch, since digital broadcasts can accommodate so much more programs (Federal Communications Commission, 2008). The law is not expected to be received openly by the television viewing public, 100 percent. Since it leaves them no choice but to convert millions of TV sets from analog to digital and give up the true fidelity that analog audio signals offer. This paper aims to point out the differences of digital and analog TV.
By doing so, advantages and disadvantages of each can be compared and the individual viewer can make a better choice. Robert Silva (2008) lists differences between analog TV and Digital TV. He says these these differences lie mainly in the manner of transmitting broadcasts, signal content within a bandwidth in the broadcast spectrum, and the ability to broadcast in widescreen (16×9) format. Transmission Analog television transmission is based on and started after World War II with black and white broadcasts.
It complied with the US analog TV standard known as NTSC. After several years, color broadcasting was introduced and accommodated under the NTSC system. The video is transmitted through the AM radio band while audio is transmitted through the FM band. The reception quality depends on the distance from the television station transmitters and obstacles in between. The farther away from the transmission station the TV reception is more prone to ghosting and other video disturbances.
Although analog transmission can accommodate all the technicalities of high fidelity reception, the assigned bandwidth to a television channel restricts and limits broadcast quality. Digital TV is based on modern digital technology. It was designed for BW and color broadcasts as well as audio. It handles information in the same manner as computers: on (with a binary value of “1”) or off (with a binary value of “0”). Digital broadcasts allow viewers to see uniform reception quality regardless of the distance from the transmitter.
Either the digital television receives the broadcast or the TV screen remains blank (it does not receive anything at all). Signal Content Digital TV broadcasts can accommodate complete video, audio, and other information signals within the same bandwidth. Furthermore, digital television can accommodate advances in technology like High Definition (HDTV) signals. In contrast, analog TV broadcast can only send limited traditional video signals. Format The development of wide screen format programming allows the broadcast of the 16×9 format.
Today, widescreen LCD television are getting more popular; but still expensive. It offers the advantage of portraying on the TV screen wide footages of events without the camera lens distortion caused by distances. Furthermore, the widescreen image occupies the whole digital television screen. On the other hand, analog television sets will show widescreen images with portions on top and below blacked out. The widescreen format may not be important to the regular TV viewer. For millions of television watchers, the old analog screen is good enough.
Conclusion Paul Wotel (2008) gives an objective assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of both digital and analog television. Some people may opt for the old traditional analog equipment such as phones while others prefer the cordless digital phones. If you want sound fidelity, he recommends the old phones. For more advanced applications, such as the PABX systems, he recommends a digital system. The same reasoning may be applied to television sets. However, the present situation requires new priorities which did not exist before. Today, there is much concern on security and priority is given to police and fire department communications.
By requiring television stations to convert to digital transmission, most of the broadcast bandwidth can be assigned to security applications. The advantages of digital television allow the viewing public to benefit from the information age we find ourselves in. Digital television can also take advantage of the internet which has become part of the lives of many, particularly the young generation. Considering the continuing evolution in information and entertainment technology we just have to follow the trend – out with old, in with the new.