With all of the options available to consumers, it's important for you to know exactly what you're getting into when you start shopping for home television service. ConnectMyCable has put together a list of frequently asked questions in order to help households get the right television package for them.
Analog cable encodes information as an analog signal, that is, by varying the amplitude and/or frequencies of the signal. Analog television has been the standard since we began to use magnetic waves to transmit picture and sound.
With digital cable, information is transferred in "data bits." The amount of space required to transmit these "data bits" is much smaller than what is required for analog television. Not only is the picture and sound quality improved with digital television, but due to the digital television's efficiency, digital television also frees up parts of the broadcast spectrum, allowing space in the spectrum for other uses. We are currently in a transition period from analog television to digital television. Congress has set February 17, 2009, as the end of the transition period to DTV as the national standard.
Although HDTV, or High Definition Television, uses about the same bandwidth as analog signals, HDTV transmits more than six times the information, leading to a huge improvement in sound and quality. With HDTV, consumers can view programs in the 16:9 wide-screen format that you see in movie theaters.
A set-top box connects to a television and some external source of signal, and turns the signal into content then displayed on the screen. Usually, your cable or satellite company will provide you with a set-top box of some type when you subscribe to their service.
A DVR, or Digital Video Recorder, is a device that allows you to record television shows digitally, without the need of a video tape or DVD. Many cable and satellite providers offer free DVRs with their service; however, you may still need to pay a monthly fee.
Satellite TV service is available nationwide from DIRECTV. In order to get a good signal, your home will need to have a clear view of the southern sky.
Many cable and satellite companies offer some type of "On Demand" service. Video-on-Demand systems allow users to select and watch video content over a network as part of an interactive television system.
You can read our comparison of cable and satellite TV to help you make your decision.