Set-Top Boxes

What is Digital TV and why is everyone making such a fuss about it? What is high-definition (HD) TV and how is it different? Do you have to get rid of your old TV and buy a new one? For that matter, what about your existing VCR, DVD and sound system? Should you act now or wait a while? Do you need a set-top box (STB) and what sort should you get -- a high-definition STB or a standard-definition STB? And why is it called a set-top box when it usually sits under it?

The move to Digital TV is a minefield of questions like these. The short answer is yes, you DO need a digital TV receiver, called a set-top box (STB). And despite the name, you can choose to put it on top of, underneath or beside your existing analogue TV. But to understand the what, how, why and when of getting the right STB to suit your needs, you need to know a little bit about Digital TV.

What is Digital TV and what will it do for you?

Firstly, why the switch to Digital TV? Quite simply, to overcome the problems you get with traditional analogue TV. Digital TV offers widescreen viewing, DVD quality, surround sound, extra stations and a crisp, clear picture free from ghosting (double images), fuzziness and "snow".

Sounds good, but what if you're quite happy with the TV and reception you get now? Well, regardless of what you think of your existing TV, you will experience the benefits of Digital TV sooner or later, because the analogue network is due to be "switched off" sometime between 2010 and 2012. When that happens, your old analogue TV simply won't work without an STB plugged into it

Zen Set Top Box So, don't panic. You don't have to get rid of your current TV or other equipment. What you will need to do though, at a minimum, is add a digital TV receiver (or STB) and you can do that now at a minimum cost of only about $100. Or, if you want to go all-out, you can take your investment to 10 times that amount just for the STB -- thousands more if you add a high-definition screen, surround sound and other extras.

There, that's the hard part over.

Now, let's look at the fun part and see all the extra benefits you can get by moving to Digital TV (via an STB) sooner rather than later.

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GoodGearGuide Staff

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