Making sense out of analog, DTV, HD - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Making sense out of analog, DTV, HD

Roy Bumanglag Roy Bumanglag

By Leland Kim - bio | email

ALA MOANA (KHNL) -  Digital, analog, high definition, Blu-ray, DVR, DVD;  for most of us the words and world of choices are nothing short of confusing.  The greatest confusion seems to be between digital television which begins here in Hawaii next month, and high definition television which,  this newscast begins broadcasting in later this month.

Both DTV and HD, or high def, are transmitted in digital format, so their picture and audio quality are better than analog.  But the difference between DTV and high def is the difference between watching TV versus feeling like you're actually part of the action.

Crystal clear TV reception floods the airwaves.

"Explain to us the difference between analog and digital," said KHNL. 

"I have no idea," said Diane Kekuewa, a Hawaii Kai resident.  "Analog or digital?  I don't know."

"Oh, boy," said Gary Nakanishi, a Kaimuki resident. "That would be a tough one for me."

"I don't even know how to do iPod yet," said Rukpun Dela Rosa, a Waipio resident.   

Simply put, analog signal is what comes out of your VCR player if you still have one, and digital is what comes out of your DVD player.

Digital broadcasting is the biggest technological revolution since TV went from black and white to color.

"I was there with black and white with the eight-inch screen," said Kekuewa. "So, this is wonderful."

"I really don't know much but I start to know," said Dela Rosa.  "I'm really excited about it."

And one step above digital is high definition TV or HDTV.

"HD or high definition is pretty much a picture quality where digital is the manner in which the signal is being broadcast to your TV," said Roy Bumanglag, an assistant manager at Sears Ala Moana.

Regular digital TV reception offers 480 horizontal lines of resolution; HD offers 1080.

Nakanishi already made the switch to HD, and he's not looking back.

"Oh, those were terrible, especially people with an antennae, depends where you live," he said. "If you live in a place with a poor signal, you get a junk picture."

No more junk picture for Nakanishi, who gets to enjoy almost life-like picture quality.  And others are jumping on the high-def bandwagon.

"That's what I'm doing today, picking up a new TV," said Kekuewa. "So I'll be bigger and better than ever."

High-def TV's are still pretty expensive; generally a thousand bucks and up depending on screen size.  About 20 percent of Hawaii's homes already have HD.

Beginning December 20, you'll see Steph in high def, and Howard Dashefsky: HD in HD.

But before you can even think about HD, you have to switch to digital if you have analog.  If you have an antennae on your roof or on top of your TV set, you have to get a digital converter box or your TV's not going to work come January 15.

And to make sure people understand the switch from analog to digital, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Jonathan Edelstein is in Hawaii, holding several public town hall meetings.  The first one was Tuesday morning at the Neal Blaisdell Center.  He says the switch is better for everyone.

"Because it's more efficient, we are also recapturing, taking back, a lot of the spectrum a lot of the broadcasters used to use to broadcast on," said Edelstein.  "We're giving that to public safety so fire can communicate to ambulance and police, and we have enough left over to sell. $20 billion we sold to the big companies that are doing wireless."

And the switch to digital won't be as expensive as you think. Converter boxes go for $40 to $60, but the FCC is offering a $40 voucher if you apply online.

For more info, go to our web site: and click on the "Big Switch" icon.

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