HDTV or High Definition Television offers many benefits over traditional analog television. High definition television has excellent digital superiority, crisp detail, progressive scanning, digital audio, a wider viewing area and better quality DVD playback. The FCC is pushing broadcasters, electronic manufacturers, and consumers to make a complete switch to high definition television by 2006. Many are ready for the change. Are you HDTV connected?

The issue of choosing HDTV over analog television came around 1987 when the FCC issued a ruling indicating that all analog televisions would become obsolete in 2006. The Japanese had developed a successful high definition television and the United States wanted to come out ahead with the HDTV technology. As a result a group of American electronics companies that manufacturer televisions formed the ?Grand Alliance? by inventing digital HDTV.

In 1990, the FCC announced that HDTV would be broadcast at the same time as existing NTSC broadcasting service. The idea was to give television broadcasters additional channel space to broadcast in both analog and digital. The old channels would then become obsolete. To make this work, all televisions would have to convert to digital. All televisions made since would suddenly become obsolete unless a converter was purchased and installed.

The converters for enabling traditional analog televisions to digital cost around $100. While no one would argue that high definition television is far superior to analog with a clearer and brighter picture, it is expensive.

More and more consumers are getting connected to high definition. As the technology to make smaller HDTV sets rises, the cost of these televisions come down enabling more people to purchase the sets. In addition to the cost of the actual television, the price of enhanced cable or satellite service must be considered before getting connected to HDTV.

High definition does have its benefits besides a better picture resolution. HDTV has none of the imperfections caused by a traditional analog broadcast. There is no snow from weak signals, no double images from ghosting and no picture sparkles caused by impulse noise.

In addition, HDTV offers viewers the ultimate in viewing experience when connected to a surround sound system. The wide-screens offered by HDTV and the complete audio are just like seeing a movie in a movie theater. There is no part of the viewing area cut off at the top or bottom when using HDTV.

As the popularity of high definition broadcast rises, the amount of available broadcasts also go up. Currently in the United States, there are about forty channel networks that broadcast in high definition. These networks include the major movie channels such as HBO and Showtime and other channels such as the ESPN sports channel and the Discovery channel. Japan, Australia and South Korea are all leaders in bringing HDTV broadcasts to consumers. In Europe, HDTV is just beginning.

Some networks often offer viewers certain prime time specials and sporting events in HDTV rather than their entire broadcast. The four major networks usually offer professional football, championship baseball, basketball and NASCAR in high definition. In addition, they offer television specials and awards shows in HDTV.

To get connected in the world of high definition television, you must first purchase an HDTV-ready or an HDTV capable television. There are several to choose from. Rear projection, plasma and LCD are all types of HDTV. When a television is labeled as HDTV-ready that means the TV has an HDTV tuner built in. This enables the TV set to get over-the-air high definition signals from local networks. HDTV-capable means that the TV set is able to receive high definition signals, but only with the use of an HDTV converter box that is available from the cable or satellite company, or a digital tuner and over-the-air antenna. A converter box usually costs between $5 and $10 per month, or some are available for purchase for several hundred dollars.

The last and probably the most important step of getting connected in high definition will be to watch a broadcast in HDTV. Major networks have some programming in high definition, but many do not. High definition programming will be separate channels from the standard non-high definition channels. It is important to know whether or not the channel and programming you are interested in are offered in high definition.

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