Cable Vs. Digital TV

By Charlie Sim

Cable TV can be either analog or digital. Digital TV refers to the type of signal that is being fed to your television. Digital is a higher-quality signal than analog.

How Television Is Broadcast to Your Home

Cable TV comes in through a cable that either plugs in directly to your TV or to a cable box. There are two types of signals that can be broadcast: analog or digital. Digital TV can come into your home through cable or over-the-air broadcasts.

Quality of Broadcast

Analog signals have more noise and interference, so the picture and audio quality sometimes suffers as a result. Digital signals are a newer, cleaner signal that results in higher-quality images and audio. Digital TV also comes in two qualities of picture: standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD).

Difference between SD and HD in Digital Cable

Standard definition broadcast is a lower picture quality than high definition. In HD broadcast, the picture is clearer and seems more realistic than in SD or analog broadcasts. Besides picture quality, SD and HD differ in what channels and shows are available in each broadcast format. HD programs such as "SportsCenter HD" will be broadcast as shows that will be best viewed with an HDTV. Some shows may not be available in HD and will be broadcast in SD.

How to View Digital TV through Cable

The first requirement is a television that can display digital broadcasts. To view digital cable, a digital cable box, CableCARD or QAM tuner is required from your cable provider or other source. Setup is relatively easy, and cable providers also offer installation service.

Benefits of Digital over Cable (Analog)

Better picture and soundMore channels through multi-castingAbility to access more content on video on demandInteractive program guidesAbility to record and playback content through Tivo and other related media-playing devices