What is Digital TV?

By James Pickard - Tue 11th Mar 2014 Guides

Digital TV broadcasts images and sound through a digital transmission, which is an enhanced, more efficient way to send a TV signal. Read more about digital TV, the benefits and subscription services.

What is Digital TV?

Digital TV involves the broadcast of pictures and sound through digital transmission, which basically means sending the information as computerised data, improving the all-round quality.  The analogue signal which ruled the TV age of the 20th Century allowed five channels to be broadcast, but the digital switchover gave the nation a more efficient and higher quality way to watch TV.

The digital switchover

2012 saw the completion of the digital switchover; the process involved systemically switching off analogue transmitters, resulting in the complete transition to digital TV.  In order to receive digital TV, you need some kind of digital set-top box.  They come in different shapes and sizes, and vary in cost and performance, but you must have one to watch digital TV.

The benefits of digital TV

Aside from the better bandwidth efficiency (which means that less airwave space is being used up), digital offers other benefits that increase the home viewing experience.  Digital TV allows for a huge channel base, no matter which provider, so there is greater choice, and there is also an Electronic Programme Guide, or EPG, which makes channel-hopping and browsing much easier.  An EPG shows upcoming programmes, letting you plan ahead with your viewing.

The sound and picture quality is vastly improved because the information is sent through a better form of transmission.  Sending computerised information results in a clearer, more advanced signal, so no more hissing or crackling and far less interference.

Digital also allows for interactive functions, such as the ‘red button’ and digital text.  These are operated through your remote and provide extra features such as alternative sports coverage, news and useful tools.

Sending the digital signal

Your digital TV signal can be received in different ways, and this will depend on your provider.  You could receive through a satellite dish, aerial, cable or phone line, and the cost of equipment and installation will vary between providers and your choice of set-up.