Shop Smart for HD Equipment

Questions for the Consumer, Before You Go Shopping Okay, you've decided to move up to DTV and enjoy the superb picture and sound, especially the HD programming that is increasingly available. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you head to the store. Q: Do you have a true, high definition, digital signal coming into your home? To receive a true digital signal you must have one of the following: an antenna capable of receiving over-the-air broadcasts from local and regional television stations; or, a cable service that is capable of providing the digital signal from local stations in addition to cable-only channels that are delivered in HD; or satellite service that is capable of delivering digital signals. You should be aware that many cable systems and satellite companies delivering digital or high definition signals may not carry the digital signal from your local broadcasters, which means your favorite prime time and networks sports programs offered in high definition may not be available to you. Cable and satellite systems might require additional equipment or fees to deliver high definition programming from local broadcasters and other program sources. Q: Do you understand the differences between High Definition and Enhanced Definition television receivers? A true HD set might cost more than a comparable ED set. If your main programming source is a local broadcast station or an HD cable or satellite channel, you'll need an HD set to enjoy the full capability of HD. On the other hand, if you tend to watch DVDs, you might find that a less expensive ED set will work fine. Enhanced definition sets can receive any digital signal, but cannot output a high definition signal. Q: Do you want a direct view , rear projection , plasma , LCD or DLP ? Only you can answer this question. Your answer will depend on your budget, available space, design preferences, and need for other features. For example, if you are replacing an existing direct-view (tube) TV, you might find a new direct view D/HD set that will fit right into the cabinet or corner. If you want to impress your friends and neighbors, a big plasma set will do the trick. Q: Will you be using this set as a stand-alone receiver or as part of a home theater with a sound system? If it's a set you intend to use by itself, pay attention to the sound of the built-in speakers. If you intend to use it with a surround-sound system, ask about audio outputs to make sure the set is compatible with the sound system you have in mind. (Most retailers will be very happy to sell you a surround sound system with your set.) Questions to ask the retailer. You've wandered the store, found a set you like that fits your budget, and it's time to talk. Here are some questions to ask your friendly, helpful salesperson. Q: Is this set Integrated HD or HD Ready? If the set is Integrated HD, the tuner you need to enjoy HD programming is built in. You are ready to hook it up to an antenna as soon as you get home. If it's HD Ready, you'll need a separate set-top box, possibly from your cable or satellite company before you can enjoy true HD programs. Q: What's the program source that I'm watching right now? Some stores can feed a true HD signal to their sets on display; others have signal sources that vary greatly in quality. Ask to see a demonstration of a true HD signal so you can evaluate the set you are interested in and compare it to others. You might also consider taking along your favorite DVD so you can compare picture and sound quality for that particular program source. Q: What local stations should I be able to receive with this set and an antenna? By now retailers should have a good idea of what local and regional stations you should be able to receive, depending on where you live. They can't guarantee anything, but they should have a good idea, based on where you live. It's a good idea to also call your local broadcaster to confirm the availability of their signal in your area. Broadcasters have coverage maps that indicate the predicted signal strength near your home. Still have questions? Click HERE to email the MAB. Home | Questions for Retailers | FAQ | H/DTV Broadcasts | H/DTV Glossary | Links Questions, suggestions? click here © 2004 Michigan Association of Broadcasters