ATI TV Wonder Combo PCI Express Card Review :: The Digital TV Switchover and HDTV

01-11-2009 · Category: Hardware - Misc

By Ben Sun

So there's a lot of confusion on the Digital TV switchover in February and what it means to those with standard television sets. The answer depends, of course, on what kind of television you have now. If you have a HDTV that supports 1280x720 progressive resolution or better, you are good to go. The transition will not affect you at all as you are already watching television in HD. The second choice is if you have cable or satellite services that provide the local stations But what choices do you have if you have an older television and either can't afford a new TV or don't watch TV?

According to www.dtvanswers.com , there are over 19.6 million televisions that receive over-the-air (OTA) signals exclusively in their homes and over 14.9 million households have secondary OTA TV sets in their houses. Up to 70 million homes may be affected by the Digital TV transition. Those with older TVs that don't have cable or a HDTV have three options: buy a new TV set with a built-in digital tuner, buy a DTV converter box for your existing TV set, or subscribe to cable, satellite, or other pay TV service. There is another option if you are willing to use your PC monitor as your television and that is buy a television tuner card or "All-In-Wonder" card and watch TV on your PC.

So now that we've covered the Digital Television switchover, let's look at the television resolutions and why the PC may be an acceptable substitute for a Digital Television. The NTSC standard by which American TV sets broadcast at a resolution of 486 visible raster lines out of 525 lines on the TV which is considered analog TV. The standard resolution for analog TV is actually 360x240 but using alternating screens at 30fps. Standard Definition TV (SDTV) resolution of 720x480 split into two 240-line fields, Enhanced Digital TV has a resolution of 720x480.

High Definition Television is where the majority of TV sales are now made. There are several; resolutions for HDTV including 720p (1280x720), 1080i (1280x1080, 1440x1080 or 1920x1080 split into two 540 lines) and finally 1080p (1980x1080 progressive scan). So let's talk about HDTV resolutions and computer monitor resolutions. The most common LCD monitors on the market today have a resolution maximum of 1680x1050, which means that they can display 720p straight out of the box. There are also higher resolution monitors such as the Optiquest 24" monitor that we use for video card tests that have a resolution of 1920x1200 60Hz refresh rate. This would make a good fit for a HDTV but you need a tuner to get TV on the PC. Enter the TV Wonder 650 Combo PCI Express card.