Getting ready – the basics

If you’re planning to purchase a new TV anyway, then getting ready for digital TV is easy-as. The great majority of flat panel TVs today have digital TV tuners built-in.

In fact, we recently set up a wonderful Panasonic plasma TV that had been programmed to take into account the impending changes. During its out-of-the-box automatic setup procedures, it asked us whether we wanted it to scan for ‘All Channels’, or ‘Digital TV Channels only’. Within three years, we suspect it will be pretty hard to purchase a TV with an analog TV tuner, even if you want one.

But what if you have a TV that doesn’t need replacing? It may not be the main TV in your house, but you still wouldn’t want to throw it away. What can you do?

Just buy a set-top box. Otherwise known as a digital TV receiver, if your TV has an AV input then it will be able to continue to do the job with the addition of one of these. A basic standard definition set-top box can be bought for as little at $50.

If you receive a good quality analog picture from your current aerial, then you should not have reception problems with digital TV.

But what about HDTV? Of course, an old glass tube TV will not display high definition TV. But with the addition of a HDTV set-top box – which cost from $100 – it will display the HDTV programming, except that you will see it at SDTV resolution. But if you’re presently satisfied with that picture, then that ought to be satisfactory.

We strongly recommend that you choose a HDTV set-top box. SDTV ones aren’t so common now, but a few may be around. Since the programming on HDTV stations is quite different to SDTV, without such a box you will be missing out on some of the material available.

Improving the high definition TV experience

An inexpensive HDTV receiver is what you need to cope with the analog switch-off. But you need not stop there. We recommend that you take advantage of what digital TV has to offer. That includes the higher picture quality, and the better sound, and the ease of recording.

Higher picture quality means a better, and perhaps bigger, TV. Amazingly high quality is available in full high definition from TVs of 100 cm or larger for less than a couple of grand.

These will make even regular SDTV shows look better, and HDTV quite brilliant.

A sound system will enhance the experience too. TV speakers are okay for analog TV and for watching the evening news, but with some of the excellent sound mixes routinely provided with modern TV shows, adding a reasonable quality surround sound system will bring you very close to a full theatre experience.

Finally, there is convenience. The major part of this is to move TV shows from their broadcast time to when you want to watch them. For that you need a PVR – a Personal Video Recorder. Once again, a high definition version is essential.

Additional reading

To learn more about the digital TV switchover, what it will bring and what you need to do, click the titles below to read related stories on this topic.

The digital TV switchover – why are we having it? – Analog TV will soon be unavailable to some Australian households, and by the end of 2013 we must all convert to digital if we want to watch TV at all. Learn what you have to do, and what’s in it for you.

The digital TV switchover – what does it change or improve? – The switchover to digital TV offer greater choice and quality, but once the analog switch-off deadline has been reached in your area, to enjoy any TV there’s a few things you may need to do.