With new developments and falling costs, HDTV has become the next big thing in the world of digital entertainment. However, before you jump on the HDTV bandwagon, remember that your HDTV experience is dependent on many aspects, vital among which is the source. Here’s choose a source for your HDTV.
1. Understand the three types of sources available for HDTV-Cable, Satellite and Over-the-air.
2. Familiarize yourself with the essentials for the three sources. If you choose a cable connection, you will need a tuner box. You can either purchase them or ask your cable provider to rent it to you. Lastly, you need an HDTV cable subscription. This subscription enables you to watch the HD versions of your favourite channel or show. Some channels don’t charge extra for their HD versions while some do. If you already have a built-in tuner in your HDTV set, all you need is a cable card from your cable operator.
3. If you choose a satellite connection, you can opt for DirecTV or Dish TV. DirecTV’s new MPEG-4 connection calls for a new HD20 HD receiver and a dish, which is receptive to signals from five orbital positions. If you opt for Dish TV MPEG-4 service, you’ll have to get yourself an MPEG-4 compatible receiver or DVR and a satellite dish.
4. If you choose an over-the-air connection, all you will need is an antenna and a tuner box. If your HDTV set has a built-in tuner, you need not get a tuner box.
5. Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of all three sources. With a cable connection, you will have many choices in programming. Unlike other sources, there are a considerable number of local channels offering HD versions of their content. Many cable operators offer the tuner box or package free or for an affordable fee. On the other hand, a cable connection caters to a limited geographical area. Far flung areas may not be able to access it. Users will have to pay a monthly fee for the tuner box or the additional programming they have requested.
6. With a satellite connection, you will avoid the most common problem of HDTV-limited choices. The new MPEG-4 enables more channels in limited bandwidth. However, it requires users to buy or hire an expensive set-top box. Even if you have one, you will be expected to upgrade the existing set-top box to receive MPEG-4 signals. Moreover, you will still need an over-the-air antenna to receive local content on your HDTV set.
7. With an over-the-air connection, you can avoid paying any monthly charges. Most new HDTV sets come with a built-in tuner eliminating the need for a set-top-box. You can access over 1,550 HD channels with this connection, including a lot of local programming. At the same time, you will have to make do without specialty channels like ESPN. Like a cable connection, over-the-air connections have a limited geographical reach.
8. Acquaint yourself with the various programming packages offered by the various sources. Though there are over 1,550 channels with a cable connection, most of the cable operators provide very few. At best, they carry about nine channels which include HD versions of the big players only. Moreover, cable operators are also reluctant to carry local broadcasters on the HD version.
9. With a satellite connection, both DirecTV and Dish TV have a specialized programming mix. Get more information on the respective packages from their Web sites (see Resources below).
10. With an over-the-air connection you can have all the 1,550 channels plus local channels, and also the high-def programming from major networks like ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. Sports shows like the NFL, NBA and MLB can also be enjoyed on HD formats.