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Q: I just purchased a DVD player. What should I look for in a TV to maximize DVD viewing?

Nearly all current DVD players and most mid- and high-quality TVs include four types of direct video connections: composite video is good, S-video is better and component video and HDMI is the best. Another thing to consider is that while most movies on videocassette have been re-formatted for viewing on a TV screen with the 'squarish' 4:3 aspect ratio, DVD movies are much more likely to be in widescreen format 16:9 aspect ratio.

Q: I'm interested in a flat-panel TV. How do LCD and Plasma TVs work, and how do I determine which type is right for me?

Neither LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) nor Plasma TVs require the scanning electron gun found in conventional tube TVs, which results in their slimmer look.

An LCD TV has a backlight and thousands of red, green and blue pixels that open or shut to let light through and create the colorful images. Sometimes the images may dim as you angle away from the center of the screen. But, because of the way an LCD panel forms an image, you never have to worry about image burn-in which is great news for video game fans.

A Plasma TV is actually self-lighting with thousands of red, green and blue pixels that work somewhat like fluorescent lights, resulting in noticeably bright images. Plasma TV's also provide very wide horizontal and vertical viewing angles, providing a picture quality that looks sharp and bright from virtually anywhere in the room. Because Plasma TV screens do have a phosphor coating, the potential for image burn-in exists, so its important to follow the manufacturer's recommendations on day-to-day use.

Q: What's the basic difference between HDTV, EDTV, and SDTV?

SDTV (Standard-Definition Television)

The quality level which we are used to watching. This is used for all analog (regular) TV broadcasts and currently many digital ones. Typical SDTV resolution is 480i (480 lines scanned in an interlaced pattern - odd lines first, then even lines.

EDTV (Enhanced-Definition Television)

A quality level available from progressive scan DVD players and some Digital TV broadcasts. Typical EDTV resolution is 480p (480 lines scanned progressively for a smoother and more detailed look than SDTV mode). EDTVs are generally either plasma or flat-panel LCD models.

HDTV (High -Definition Television)

Often mistakenly used as a generic description of all digital television, HDTV specifically refers to the highest resolution formats. Although there still isn't 100% agreement among manufacturers, retailers, journalists, etc., true HDTV is generally considered to be 1,080 line progressive (1080p), but 1,080-line interlaced (1080i) or 720-line progressive (720p) is also considered HD.


Term-used to describe TVs which can display digital high-definition TV formats when connected to a separate HDTV tuner. These TVs generally have built-in tuners for receiving regular broadcasts, but not digital. An HDTV-ready TV may also be referred to as an "HDTV monitor".

Q: What is the digital television transition?

On February 17, 2009, all full-power television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting analog signals and will begin broadcasting entirely in digital TV signals. Digital broadcasting will provide a clearer picture and more programming options.

Q: Will the transition affect me?

The transition will affect you if you currently watch TV on an analog set that receives free programming via an antenna. You’ll need to take action before February 17, 2009, to continue watching programs on these TV sets. Televisions with digital tuners and/or those that are connected to cable or satellite will continue to receive programming after the transition.

Q: Will I still need an antenna to receive programming?

Yes. If you currently use an antenna to receive over-the-air programming on any TV, you will still need it and you will need to install a converter box for your analog TV sets. In some cases a new antenna may allow you to view more channels, but in other cases it may not.

Q: How do I know if I have an analog or a digital TV set?

What you really need to know is whether your TV set has something called a “digital tuner” already built in. If it does, your set will continue to function normally after the digital transition.  If it doesn’t you will have to buy a converter box, subscribe to cable or satellite service, or purchase a new TV.

Here are some guidelines for determining if your TV has a digital tuner:
  • If you bought your TV set before 1998, it probably doesn’t have a digital tuner.
  • If you bought a big-screen projection TV between 1998 and 2004, it may have a built-in digital tuner. Only a small percentage of projection TV sets (generally those 42” & larger) included digital tuners before 2004.
  • If you purchased your TV set since 2004, it probably does have a built-in digital tuner.  Many smaller sets (those less than 27”) may not feature digital tuners, even if they were purchased more recently than 2004.

The best way to find out if your TV set has a digital tuner is to consult your owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website.