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Australian Digital TV

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What is digital TV?

What are closed captions?

Why would I need captions?

How can I record to VCR?


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What is Digital TV?

Digital Television is a new way of transmitting picture and sound signals digitally. Instead of a continuous stream of information, digital transmissions are done in short bursts. To decode these new signals, you will need a digital set top box.

You plug this box into your existing aerial that you currently use to watch TV. This works because the towers that transmit analogue television are the same ones that transmit digital television.

Hantrex sell and recommend only certain set top boxes for hearing impaired viewers. This unfortunate situation has come about because some boxes do NOT conform to the Australian Standards, and so do not decode captions properly.

The many advantages of digital television are only just being exploited, and now is a great time to enter into the market. Digital television offers the same picture quality as DVD and sound is also digital, just like DVD's.

With a digital set top box, you will no longer get ghosting or snow or any interference at all. Just pure, crisp, clear pictures and high quality digital sound.

16 : 9 imageDigital television is broadcast in 16:9 format, meaning those with widescreen televisions can view programs using all their screen width. Widescreen televisions are roughly one third wider than normal 4:3 televisions.

This is a widescreen image. As you can see, there is a lot more picture to be viewed when compared to a normal 4:3 image (see below).

4 : 3 image

This is the same image in a ratio of 4:3.

Users with older 4:3 televisions can still enjoy all the benefits of widescreen using two different modes.

One is the pan and scan method, which will fill the screen with picture by chopping off the left and right side of the widescreen picture, and sometimes moving the frame to the left or the right - depending on where the action is. The end result is the 4:3 picture above here.

4 : 3 letterbox image

The other method is to present the picture in the 'letterbox' format, with black bars on the top and bottom of the picture.

This preserves the original aspect ratio of the program on a 4:3 set. You may have noticed this already with some movies broadcast in analogue in the 'letterbox' format. The black bars are the same, but the picture and sound are far superior in digital.

This is the same image again, as you would see it on a 4:3 television. Note the black bars at the top and bottom. These are normal. You can choose between this letterbox format and the above pan and scan format using a digital set top box.

For deaf or hard of hearing caption users, the benefits are enormous. Not only do you get digital captions, you also get text that is much easier to read and a broad range of colors and symbols and different locations on the screen to match the speaker. All at the press of a single button!

No more '801ing'.

What's more you can record these pictures and captions on your standard VCR for later playback as an open caption video. You don't need any special boxes for your VCR, and any VCR will record the captions, as the digital set top box takes care of the decoding.

You will also find the text is much easier to read, and using new bitmap technology. Find out how to connect your standard VCR to record captions here.

Click on the links to the right for more information about technical details and how things work, as well as a run down on what closed captions are.

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