Is DTV the same as HDTV?

This is archived content from Digital TV Facts. For up-to-date information on the digital TV transition, see the federal government’s site, www.DTV2009.gov.

Digital television (DTV) includes broadcasts in standard definition (SDTV), enhanced definition (EDTV) and high-definition (HDTV) formats.

Digital SDTV offers resolution comparable to analog TV broadcasts. Yet picture and sound quality are noticeably better because digital transmissions are free of snow, ghosts, or static noises.

HDTV offers significantly improved images in high resolution—comparable to what you experience in a movie theater—along with CD-quality surround sound. Most digital TVs sold in the U.S. are high-def.

While TV stations will be required to convert to digital broadcasts, they need not offer high-definition broadcasts. But most stations deliver some HD programming and are adding much more as time goes on.

HDTV features a wide-screen, “16 X 9″ format—the screen’s area is 16 units wide by 9 units high (a 16:9 aspect ratio). Conventional television displays (including analog TVs) are 4 X 3.

(SDTV and EDTV displays are available in both aspect ratios, with lesser image quality.)

It isn’t enough for your favorite show to be produced in HD. To actually see it in high-def, two more things are needed: First, an HDTV signal must be received from the transmission source—either over the airwaves or via digital cable or satellite service. Second, you will need an HDTV set to watch it on.

HDTV shows can be viewed on other DTV displays, but they will not be in high-def.

An HDTV can also receive standard-definition programs, but they won’t be in high-def, either.

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