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Digital TV Signal (p. 1 of 2) 

Exactly what makes a TV digital? Is it the size? The type of device? The broadcast signal? Or all of these?

Digital TV (DTV) refers to the type of broadcast signal you are receiving. Regardless of size and type of TV you are using, the signals you pick up is digital if it is encoded in binary sequences 0s & 1s and requires a special decoder to convert the signal back to video and sound that a screen can display. You can have the latest plasma or LCD unit you'll still need a digital signal to get DTV. In other words, DTV is simply digital signal broadcasted over UHF band (stations 14-69).

The new digital signals using an ATSC standard will deliver signals at a much higher resolution with features such as dolby surround sound. Those with an old-fashioned TV can enjoy a crystal-clear picture for local broadcasts without having to subscribe to a cable or satellite service provider. Before you can get a picture, you need a good antenna (check the antenna section for how to select an antenna). Unlike conventional signals, you need about 70% signal strength to pull in a station. If a station is too weak, you get a blank screen or if it is borderline, you will see a picture sporadically. If the signal is strong enough but your antenna is pointing away from the station you will see little squares on your screen. A conventional tuner allows you to pull in any signals available. If the signal is weak, you will see snow on your screen. If you have reflections from buildings or other structures you will see ghosts. Since you can only pick up a station when the signal strength is at least 70%, you will not see any ghosts (ghost-cancelling effect).

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