HDTV vs DTV - Difference between Digital and HDTV

Up until recently, almost everybody watched analog TV, which relies on the same technology used to receive radio stations. The TV signal was received by an antenna mounted on the roof of your house and was the subject to static and poor picture problems. As technology advanced, Digital TV came along, mostly via cable or satellite, and gave the viewer a much cleaner and more consistent picture than analog ever could.

Another new technology made it's debut in the form of a picture that was so real and clear that people wondered how the put up with anything less. HDTV is that next level of quality for those who want to feel like they are right there at a football game, or flying along the amazing coastline of Australia.

Although, digital TV, or DTV sounds similar to HDTV, there are some distinct differences. The best way to understand the differences between HDTV and DTV is to know what they do.

High Definition Television or HDTV gives a crystal clear, high definition picture and although DTV can also provide a quality picture, it is not as good as HDTV.

Digital Television or DTV refers to a TV signal that is transmitted digitally as opposed to analog. Although an HDTV signal can be described as arriving at a television by the same means as DTV, there is a big difference in the quality of the picture that you will get from HDTV due to it's higher definition.

Although your television may have Digital TV capabilities, it may not be able to receive HDTV pictures. This is not to say that your TV is not as good as you first thought, but more the fact that may live in an area where there are no HDTV broadcast stations.

Television broadcasting as a whole still has a long way to go in order to catch up with the available technology. However, this is likely to change in 2007 with the requirement by the FCC that all broadcasters in the US move over to digital technology. The same requirements are also coming into force here in the UK with the digital switch over date set for 2012.

To confuse the issue further, there are a number of different forms of digital TV broadcasting. These definitions refer to the number of scan lines and scan formats. In general, the higher the number of scan lines, the higher the definition of picture.

To put this in perspective, a 480i digital broadcast means that 240 lines of image are transmitted in one sixtieth of a second followed by the other 240 lines in the next sixtieth of a second. The little 'i' that follows the number means that all 480 lines are interlaced to form the complete image on the TV screen. You can think of one set of lines as being even and the other set as odd. 480i is just one of the many ways by which digital TV is transmitted to our TV sets.

There is also the progressive format which is indicated by a small 'p' as in 480p. This means that instead of alternating between transmitting even and odd lines, all 480 lines are flickered at us every tenth of a second. Many people prefer the progressive formats because they tend to produce a smoother picture than the interlaced format.

Other digital broadcast formats include 720i, 720p, 1080i and 1080p. HDTV usually uses at least 1080i which shows why HDTV is the best of the best of DTV transmissions.

In order to get the full benefits of HDTV the ideal scenario for consumers is to invest in an HDTV capable screen, whether it be plasma or LCD.

However, with the right converters, your existing TV set is still able to receive some digital transmissions which broadcasters are now offering. However, in order to get the full benefits and optimal effect, you will need to eventually upgrade your own technology.