Television has an important place in every modern household. It carries the best of entertainment content from around the globe and brings it straight to your living room. Whether you are a fan of news, politics, lifestyle, music, sports, travel, or love a good sitcom, all you need to do is turn on the TV set and start watching the latest episodes.
However, not every television broadcasting system is alike. Your channel reception and programming may depend heavily on the type of transmission technology you choose for your home. There are two terminologies in that regard, which often confuse people. The first is CATV or cable television, and the second is DTV or digital television. What is the difference between them? How can you know which one suits your unique circumstances better? Let’s find out below.
Cable TV vs. Digital TV: Transmission
Cable TV uses an advanced network of coaxial or fiber-optic wires to transmit television programming to people’s homes. The data signals travel in the form of radio waves or light pulses through double-insulated cables, which in most cases, also carry high-speed broadband and telephone service.
Cable TV signals can be analog or digital, depending on the kind of television set you have and the provider you’ve subscribed to for cable programming. Cox cable packages offer high-definition networks in top-notch quality, alongside a healthy dose of bundles with the internet and phone.
Digital TV, on the other hand, broadcasts high-potency audiovisual signals to consumers’ homes through cable or over-the-air television technology. The data signals travel in the form of electrical pulses, instead of radio waves. They are compressed into ‘packets’ and therefore, don’t lose composure when going over large distances. Whereas, analog signals are all over the place and become fractured before reaching their destination. Digital TV supports next-gen digital signals only.
Cable TV vs. Digital TV: Channels
Cable TV is a paid service. You subscribe to a certain cable provider in your area for receiving a certain set of programming, which can include local channels, such as ABC, NBC, and FOX, national networks, like Comedy Central, Lifetime, and TLC, or specialized premiums, along the lines of HBO®, SHOWTIME® and NFL Network, etc. It depends on how much you want to pay for each tier. Moreover, you may choose your channel package, but you cannot alter the scheduled programming.
Digital television, on the other hand, is a free service. Stations broadcast hundreds of digital channels over a limited spectrum, like Bounce TV, Telemundo, Court TV, Cozi TV, ION, Charge! and more, which you can catch with your DTV antenna without any cost. You can also add or remove digital TV channels via multicasting.
Cable TV vs. Digital TV: Equipment
Cable TV providers usually require you to have their signature cable boxes for receiving television programming. These set-top boxes acquire and decode digital signals, so that your analog TV sets may play the content beamed by your provider. A cable box may also have DVR capabilities and built-in Wi-Fi, like Optimum’s Altice One. Digital TV doesn’t require you to have a box, just a well-functioning antenna to catch over-the-air DTV broadcasts on your digital TV set. In case you have an older set, then a digital converter might be needed, which is available at any retail store.
Cable TV vs. Digital TV: Quality
If you have a flat-screen TV and a standard cable, then you might see black bars on the sides of the picture. The reason for this is that cable TV signals, when analog, only transmit video in 4:3 aspect. Digital TV, on the other hand, transmits video in the latest 16:9 widescreen aspect, which is perfect for the large-screened television models of today. Quality-wise, it also supports SD and true HD, making sure that the picture pixels are denser, the contrast is better and the colors are richer.
Cable TV vs. Digital TV: Range
Cable television signals, especially if they are analog, may experience severe interference from environmental factors. These TV signals move like radio waves through the air, with each channel occupying one whole frequency. Any increase in the distance of transmission can jeopardize the speed and efficacy of programming data. Besides, the frequencies over which analog signals travel are often overcrowded by other wireless devices in the area, throwing consistency out of the question.
Whereas, digital TV signals are encoded in the form of binary data and compressed to make space for more channels on a single frequency. Their tight-packed encryption less space for interference or signal loss, no matter how long the distance of transmission.
Many cable TV providers these days have adopted digital television technology to keep up with the pace of the times. Digital is the future, after all, as this post proves.