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Digital TV - Equipment  
Very soon, all TV in the UK will be supplied digitally rather than the traditional analogue method. The analogue signal is due to be phased out by 2012, so it’s a good time to start thinking about your digital TV options.

There are a number of service providers all offering a range of packages: Sky, Freesat, BT and Virgin are some of the leading providers, and their content ranges from common channels like the BBC channels, ITV and Channel 4 to others such as Sky 1, NBC and HBO.

   
Why are we switching to Digital TV?  
All television is broadcast via the airwaves which have a limited bandwidth. The switch to Digital Television will free up a lot of this bandwidth because the digital signal is much smaller than the analogue signal. This makes it possible to fit more TV channels, radio networks and other services into the same amount of space. There are three ways of receiving digital television: terrestrial, satellite and cable.

   
Converting to Digital: What You’ll Need
Setting up TV in your home can be daunting, but if you have a contract your provider (Sky, BT, Virgin etc) will guide you through it. But if you want to watch TV without signing up (you'll still need to pay your licence for BBC) then you need a receiver (a digital aerial, satellite dish or cable), a decoder (a Sky box or digital set top box) and a TV Screen:
Digital Aerials  
If you don't have an outdoor aerial that can pick up digital, it's definitely worth experimenting with an indoor aerial. If you can get a decent picture from an analogue aerial, it's very likely that you'll get a good digital signal too.

Experiment by positioning your aerial around the house and work out which rooms and positions work best.
Digital Boxes  
Also known as set top boxes, 'digiboxes' or Freesat boxes, they are the simplest way of connecting to a digital service, and are available cheaply from Asda Direct. Whether you have an aerial, a satellite dish or a cable connection there is a set top box that will work for you, but the majority are Freeview boxes that will allow you to watch the Freeview channels. You do the set-up yourself, but for BSkyB, cable and broadband, the companies supply and install their own set top box as part of the service. You'll need a set of SCART leads to connect everything up.


Digital TV Recorders
 
Are the same as Set Top Boxes but with the advantage of being able to record and store your favourite programmes, and pause or rewind a channel to the point at which you started watching. You'll never miss a plot twist or key sporting moment again! Depending on how you receive your TV – terrestrial aerial, cable or satellite – there are different Digital TV Recorders available and Sky boxes come with their own Sky+ function (which does the same job). You can also record from your set top box using a good old VHS recorder, but you won't be able to do live pauses or benefit from the other functionality that DTVRs provide.


IDTVs - Integrated Digital Televisions
 
IDTVs combine a flat screen TV with a set top box. This means they have an inbuilt digital tuner which will connect to an aerial which will allow you to view Freeview channels without a subscription (you need a licence for BBC, however). Some IDTVs also include a satellite TV tuner which will display BBC/ITV's Freesat channels provided your TV is connected to a satellite dish. Any TV can be converted to receive digital however, with the use of a digital box.



Many TVs are combination TVs or 'Combi TVs'; these have an inbuilt DVD or Blu-ray disc player.

SCART Cables
 
In the early 90s SCART cables replaced the old mono plug for standard-definition, analogue TV and video. While still widely used today, SCART cables are gradually being replaced by HDMI cables, which can carry HD and multiple audio signals.

HDMI Cables  
Scart leads aren’t equipped to carry High Definition signals. You’ll need an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cable to plug your HD TV into a Blu-ray player or High Definition Set Top Box. These come in a variety of materials (including gold) – the better the quality, the sharper your image is likelier to be.


More than one TV?
 
You’ve signed up to a TV service and the box sits in your living room, but what if you want to watch Sky, Cable or another paid for service in your bedroom, kitchen, or (if you’re lucky) your hot tub? You can connect your secondary TVs to your digital box using a SCART or aerial cable (or HDMI cable for HD). But if you don’t want to run extra cables through your house you should use a wireless video sender. These handy devices plug into your existing set top box and come with a decoder for you to plug into your second TV. Some even come with a remote control extender, so you can change the channel on your set top box from your bedroom.


Universal Remote Control
 
With so many new technologies, you sometimes find that you have a separate remote for your DVD player, Blu-ray player, Set Top Box, TV and Home Theatre System. This can be cluttering and finding batteries for everything can be a chore, but there are a wide range of universal remotes which can control all your devices from a single device.