To help you understand digital television, let's look at some digital technology you're already very familiar with.
Compact discs debuted in the mid 1980s. Imperfections in vinyl albums, whether dust or regular wear and tear, resulted in snaps, crackles and pops. This is fine for breakfast cereal but not for music. By using digital technology, CDs got around the imperfects and offered crisp sound no matter how many times the disc was played. As CD players became affordable to people other than the wealthiest audiophiles, vinyl albums disappeared.
Today we're seeing the same thing happen with DVD. DVDs promise movie-quality video no matter how many times the disc is played. By using digital technology, DVDs have room for extra features like director's commentaries, multiple languages, and deleted scenes.
Digital TV is to current broadcast television what CDs-- or even DVDs-- are to vinyl albums.
The most obvious difference is the perfect reception-- TV without any "snaps, crackles or pops." Secondly, it allows broadcasters to offer programming in HDTV so viewers get big, beautiful, crisp pictures with stereo Surround Sound.
The question everyone asks is, "But when we talk about DTV, aren't you talking about HDTV?" A lot of people will confuse the two, so you can impress your friends by knowing the difference.
DTV is short for digital television. DTV is a new way of broadcasting the programs you see on television, along with new and higher standards for quality. In this case, "D" is for "digital."
HDTV is short for high-definition television. It will change the way you look at the programs on television. It's a widescreen format (we'll discuss that later) with much sharper pictures and crisper sound (we'll discuss that in detail later, too). In this case, "D" is for "definition."
The two are related but they're not the same. Digital TV is how the TV picture is delivered. HDTV is the quality of the TV picture delivered.
HDTV is a form of digital television, but a DTV (digital) set doesn't necessarily display in HDTV (high-definition).