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How do I Buy Digital TV?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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There still exists much confusion about the way to buy digital TV since this may mean a few different things. Digital TV can refer to type of television set, the way it receives pictures, and the picture quality on the television. Alternately, people may want to know how they can receive digital TV broadcasting signals or how they can convert an older TV set to receive the new digital signals, which have replaced analog signals as of 2009. These issues are all related.

Most people who were using rabbit ear or roof antennas when analog broadcasting came to an end in 2009 didn't actually buy digital TV, but instead bought a digital converter box. These help convert digital signals so they can be read by older televisions that were not digital-ready. Converter boxes are still likely to be available should someone need one.

Analog to digital converters are only necessary for those people who didn’t have a subscription cable or satellite service. Most cable and satellite customers could continue to receive broadcasts after the shift. Some need a special box they could get from cable or satellite companies, and this option to buy digital TV is likely to remain available for some time. An old TV isn’t rendered useless by the new digital broadcast.

Yet this is not exactly digital TV. In the options above, the matter discussed is converting standard or analog sets so they can play digital TV. True digital picture quality can’t really be appreciated without a digital television, and interest in quality may determine the type of set to buy. Sets may come in high definition (HD), enhanced definition (ED) or standard definition (SD). High definition types give best quality, but not all digital broadcasting is in HD. ED is slightly better than standard definition, and thus a bit better than pictures on an analog set. ED and HD may show improvement over an analog set, but SD is comparable with high quality analog televisions.

This means if people are looking to upgrade the appearance of the television picture when they buy digital TV they probably want to look to getting a TV that is considered HD or ED. This may still need a cable or satellite box to run, though some do have a tuner built-in. Getting digital TV does often mean contracting with some type of cable provider to get the most channels.

Defining how to buy digital TV is a matter of determining what that means. Some people just want to get their regular television channels on an older TV set. Others want to see high picture quality that can result from broadcasts in high definition or enhanced definition. For the former, people can consult most electronics stores to get equipment they need or sign up with a cable service. With the latter, a trip to electronic stores to shop for a new TV may be needed.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia...
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