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Old 04-30-2006, 12:24 PM   #1
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Question hdtv

I Am Preparing To Install A Lvd Tv In My Motor Home And Am Shopping. I Read One Thread That talked About Using A Lap Top And A Tv Tuner. Then I Saw A Hdtv Tuner Ad That Decodes Atsc Dtv Signals. All Greek To Me - Anyone Know What This Thing Does? What Goes In? What Comes Out?
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Old 04-30-2006, 12:48 PM   #2
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David,

I would first start here, and go over what HDTV and all of the related acronyms are:

http://www.hdtvprimer.com/

Armed with some more knowledge, read on:

ATSC is the format that Digital Television (DTV) broadcasts in. Some HDTVs have this tuner, some don't, and this is usually reflected in the price. Also smaller displays under 25" usually don't, but are capable of displaying an HD signal if coupled with such a tuner. A stand alone tuner or the laptop tuner card are an example of this. Most of these ATSC tuners will attach to your display by a DVI-D (typically seen as digital computer display cable on LCD monitors) , HDMI (essentially DVI-D PLUS audio in one cable), or component video connector (essentially component RGB colors over a RCA cable). The display you choose will likely have one, but not all of those connectors that I listed.
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Old 04-30-2006, 02:00 PM   #3
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I recently purchased an HDTV sat receiver from DirecTV. It has a built in ATSC tuner and seperate antenna port for local off air DT and HDTV broadcasts. Every television station in the Ocala/Gainesville area is simulcasting analog and DTV signals. I find these signals to be as high a quality as the sat signals. Thinking of a 2nd receiver for the A/S as these receivers work so well!
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Old 04-30-2006, 02:08 PM   #4
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Pick, in most cases the HD signals you are receiving OTA actually are HIGHER quality that was is being broadcast over satellite, even rebroadcast locals over satellite.
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Old 04-30-2006, 03:02 PM   #5
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Old 04-30-2006, 06:42 PM   #6
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Don't confuse Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) digitally transmitted, over-the-air (OTA) television with HDTV. The former is the method of transmission and the latter one of 3 categories of format it can carry. It can also carry the same Standard Definition TV (SDTV) programming we've received all these years over analog NTSC TV, as well as a category called Enhanced Definition TV (EDTV). IIRC, there are a total of 18 formats in these categories, differing in aspect ratio, resolution, and frame rate.

The good thing is that you don't have to know anything about them. Your ATSC tuner will receive them, and if necessary, convert them to what your display needs. You don't even have to know that the station that used to broadcast on radio-frequency (RF) channel 5 or 22 is now on RF channel 39 or 50. The tuner translates the station's new ATSC channel number to it's old NTSC channel number. What you have to get used to is that each channel can now carry multiple programs simultaneously, and these are designated with a decimal place number, i.e. 5.1, 5.2, etc.

Television manufacturers and the Consumer Electronics Association have been dragging their feet about installing ATSC tuners for many years, and still are. Originally, analog broadcasting was to shutdown at the end of this year, and if not for them, it could. The FCC finally had to establish a hard phase-in that ends analog broadcasting on February 17th, 2009. The FCC also had to mandate a hard phase-in of ATSC tuners. For example, all televisions 25" and larger should now have ATSC tuners, but you still see some leftovers that don't. What tightens my jaws is that manufacturers are now cranking out 24" NTSC TVs in place of the 25" models to get around it. My response to them is to refuse to buy a new TV.

There are some other features you need to study up on before buying a TV. In the past, programming has passed from a source, such as a VCR or DVD player, cable box or satellite receiver via analog connections. This could've been Composite video (the lowest quality) or S-Video (slightly better), both of which only support SDTV, or Component video which can support SDTV, EDTV or HDTV (but not all component inputs accept all of these or even all HDTV formats). These are all analog and made sense back in the days when TVs used analog cathode-ray tubes (CRTs).

Today, many displays, including LCDs, are digital displays. It makes no sense to convert a digital signal from the source (OTA, cable, or satellite tuners, or HD-DVD) to analog (composite, s-video, or component) to transmit it to a digital display which then has to convert it back to digital to display it. Picture quality and fidelity are lost in each of the two unnecessary conversions. One method of transmitting digital data between a source and TV display, that is now falling out of favor, is Firewire. Source boxes still include it for recording. The standard today has evolved from the Digital Video Interface (DVI) used by computers to feed flat-panel monitors.

But wait! The DVI used by TV source outputs isn't the same as the DVI used by computers because of the motion picture industry, which insisted on High-Definition Copy Protection (HDCP). TV DVI inputs that are not DVI-HDCP will only support displaying a computer output. They won't work with copy-protected TV source boxes using DVI-HDCP. But even the DVI-HDCP interfaces is passe'.

It's been replaced by High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) which is DVI-HDCP with audio and some other features added. The good thing is that HDMI is backwards compatible with DVI-HDCP and converter cables to go between them (and audio inputs on the DVI-HDCP side) are available.

The bottom line is that not only will I not buy a TV without an ATSC tuner, but I also won't buy one without at least TWO HDMI inputs. HDMI switching boxes are pretty expensive. Now that being said, standard-definition DVD players still use analog component video, so you do need one of those inputs too. These are difficult, if not impossible goals to acheive currently with Airstream-sized TVs.

Another thing you must consider is whether you'll be using cable TV. Usually, you will be provided with a digital SDTV or digital HDTV cables box. However, some TVs with ATSC tuners can also tune unencrypted QAM cable signals, so if you don't subscribe to the premium channels, you might can plug the cable into the TV directly. If you DO subscribe to premium channels, you might want to look for a TV that has "cable-card" capability, which authorizes your TV to play premium channels (you use the card out of your cable box in the TV.

Now once you've gotten through all this, you can decide what level of resolution TV you want, whether that should include HDTV, and if so, what resolution of HDTV, 720 by 1280 or 1080 by 1920. The higher the resolution, the more expensive. LCDs are typically not exactly these resolutions, for example, 768 x 1280 or 1366, or 1200 x 1920.

If you're confused, you're far from alone. My philosophy at this time is that if you absolutely have to buy a TV now, spend as little as possible for the smallest Wal-Mart unheard-of-brand, consider it disposible, and save your money to put toward a digital TV with a digital tuner and digital inputs when they're available in Airstream size in the next 2-3 years.
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Old 04-30-2006, 07:09 PM   #7
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My head started swimming around the point where you started talking about HDMI...
So, (I think) if we buy a TV today that is NTSC only, it will need a separate decoder for the digital stuff that will be mandated by 2009, right?
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Old 04-30-2006, 07:18 PM   #8
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Wow - I Hope To Integrate My Tv Needs Into A Laptop Such As The Hp 111266, It Has A 17" Screen And A Tv Tuner, They Run About $1700 And Are Loaded With Xp Media. Dell Offers One At About $1000. I Guess I Need To Do A Lot More Study And The Nhopfully, The Prices Wilol Come Down And I'll Be Smart Enough To Buy Something That Meets My Needs
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Old 04-30-2006, 07:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63
My head started swimming around the point where you started talking about HDMI...
So, (I think) if we buy a TV today that is NTSC only, it will need a separate decoder for the digital stuff that will be mandated by 2009, right?
LOL! Do you remember back when UHF TV came out and if you only had a VHF tuner in your TV, you could get a separate UHF tuner box that converted it to a VHF channel? The same thing will happen as we approach 2009. There will be ATSC tuner/converters that output an NTSC channel and maybe composite or S-video. The government has also set aside a huge chunk of money to help those who can't afford one.
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Old 04-30-2006, 07:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Alan
Wow - I Hope To Integrate My Tv Needs Into A Laptop Such As The Hp 111266, It Has A 17" Screen And A Tv Tuner, They Run About $1700 And Are Loaded With Xp Media. Dell Offers One At About $1000. I Guess I Need To Do A Lot More Study And The Nhopfully, The Prices Wilol Come Down And I'll Be Smart Enough To Buy Something That Meets My Needs
I think you will note its tuner is good ole NTSC. Interestingly, with Media Center Edition, you have to have an NTSC tuner with MPEG hardware decoding installed in the computer before you can use an ATSC tuner with it, which will use software MPEG decoding. Some have reported being able to use only an ATSC tuner with MCE by using a borrowed NTSC tuner installed in their PC during the installation.

Also, read my post in the other thread about cpu utilization and heat when decoding HDTV level MPEG2 in a laptop.
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Old 04-30-2006, 07:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoadKingMoe
LOL! Do you remember back when UHF TV came out and if you only had a VHF tuner in your TV, you could get a separate UHF tuner box that converted it to a VHF channel?
Unfortunately, I do...I also remember being the first one on my street to get a color TV...And waving goodbye to dirt as it went to its first day of school.
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Old 04-30-2006, 07:44 PM   #12
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Old 04-30-2006, 08:32 PM   #13
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I skipped the 16:9 widescreen versus 4:3 issue. Suffice it to say, widescreen is the way of the future. Here's a handy calculator for comparing TV dimensions. Note also that it shows the sizes of 4:3 programming on a 16:9 TV and 16:9 programming on a 4:3 TV.

There's also the issue of whether you will get any benefit out of HDTV over SDTV, or 1080 over 720 HDTV, i.e. can you see that level of detail. The resolving power of human 20/20 vision is said to be one minute of angle, which translates to about 300 dots or lines per inch at a viewing distance of one foot. In other words, that's the point at which you'd just be able to distinguish alternating white and black lines instead of seeing an all grey image in their place. You can extend that out to 150 dpi at 2', 100 dpi at 3', 75 dpi at 4', and so on.

Home Theater buffs call that the Critical Viewing Distance. It increases with screen size and decreases with increase in resolution. I'll spare you the math, but the CVD for a 15" 480 (by 640) SDTV is about 6 feet. In other words, if you have a 15" TV and are going to view it at 6 feet or more, you theoretically aren't going to be able to see the difference between good SDTV and HDTV. The CVD for my 15.4" 1920 x 1200 laptop is about 2 feet, the distance from my eyes when it's on my lap in the LaZBoy. There are some web-based CVD calculators on the Internet.

I won't get into viewing angle and the several definitions (SMPTE, THX, etc) of its impact on the "theater" experience, but that's out there too, if you're interested.

And finally, audio is a big part of the experience. It may be challenging to install a multi-channel system with all those speakers in an Airstream, but if you're interested in Surround Sound, look for a TV with SPDIF audio output (Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format).

Hope this helps. TV sure isn't like it used to be.
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Old 05-16-2006, 07:13 PM   #14
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I just installed a Samsung 23" wide screen format LCD HD TV, my wife and I couldn't be happier with it.

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