Option 2-and-a-half: Upgrading Your Cable or Satellite
Now if you have digital cable or a satellite dish you're all set because you're already getting HDTV programming, right? Sorry, the answer is a flat "no."
"Digital cable" is a way for the cable company to deliver more channels (remember, "digital TV" sets new standards for picture quality, not quantity). For you to receive HDTV signals and HDTV quality with cable TV, Time Warner Cable tells us you need digital cable with a special high-definition decoder box.
DishTV/DirecTV subscribers have a number of options for receiving digital programming. You might need to pay a fee to upgrade your equipment (though some sellers may waive this fee or have special offers that make up the cost).
Not an Option: VCRs and DVRs
Unfortunately, right now there aren't many options for people who want to record their favorite HDTV programs. Today's VCRs and digital video recorders like TiVO don't work with digital broadcasts. They don't understand the digital signals.
This is a developing issue. TiVO has come out with a DVR for high-definition broadcasts, and some HDTV-capable DVD recorders are appearing on the market.
You may enjoy some of the digital TV benefits by connecting them to a DTV receiver, but that may not be a viable option if you're already spending thousands of dollars on an HD-ready TV set.
There is a huge learning curve involved upgrading to DTV. Finding appropriate and compatible equipment for the TV services you wish to have can take some work. Ask your TV sales representative. That's their job.