CEA Expands DTV Definition

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In an effort simplify the process of buying a digital television (DTV), the Consumer Electronics Association's Video Division Board issued more detailed terminology for the various classes of digital television (DTV) products currently on the market.

Included in the new definitions is a third category of DTVs called Enhanced Definition TV (EDTV), which fits between High Definition TV (HDTV) and Standard Definition TV (SDTV).

This new EDTV classification covers sets, tuners and monitors that will present images in digital 480p format.

The new terms also make a formal distinction for the first time between integrated sets and separate digital tuners and digital monitors. CEA said it hopes these terms will eliminate unofficial jargon - such as the terms HDTV-ready and DTV-ready - that has been used by many for lack of official terms to identify monitors that lack ATSC tuners.

The board also hoped the voluntary terms would discourage manufacturers from marketing NTSC analog television sets as digital television products. The intent, the board said, is to help consumers "clearly differentiate between the new DTV sets and analog-only televisions. The resolution states that analog-only televisions (televisions/monitors with a scanning frequency of 15.75 kHz) should not be marketed or designated to consumers as having any particular DTV capability or attributes."

Meanwhile, special logos will be placed on products to help consumers quickly distinguish between a digital set that receives ATSC broadcasts and a monitor that requires a separate set-top ATSC decoder to present those broadcasts.

Also specified were minimum attribute resolution requirements for HDTVs and monitors. Specifically, HDTV displays must have active top-to-bottom scan lines of 720 progressive, 1080 interlaced, or higher when displaying a widescreen HDTV picture on a 16:9 screen or in a letterboxed frame inside a screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio.

On monitors with 4:3 screens, manufacturers will be asked to disclose the number of active scan lines for a high-definition image within a 16:9 aspect ratio "letter boxed" image area on an HDTV display.

CEA said the definitions are expected to be incorporated into manufacturers' television marketing materials in the coming months.

"This new terminology, developed by the TV manufacturer members of CEA, will give consumers a 'good - better - best' choice when shopping for digital TV products," stated Gary Shapiro, CEA president. "As the transition to digital television moves forward, manufacturers are creating new products to satisfy a wide range of consumer desires. Manufacturers created this range of definitions so that consumers will be armed with the information they need to make informed buying decisions across varying budget levels," he added.

The new CEA Digital Television definitions include the following:

* High-Definition Television (HDTV): This is a fully integrated television receiver that will receive and all ATSC terrestrial digital transmissions and decodes all ATSC Table 3 video formats; will display active vertical scanning lines of 720 progressive (720p), 1080 interlaced (1080i), or higher in a 16:9 widescreen aspect ration. It must also receive and decode or pass-through for decoding Dolby Digital audio.

* High-Definition Television (HDTV) Monitor: This is a monitor (presumably ATSC tunerless) that will present active vertical scanning lines to meet the 720 progressive (720p), 1080 interlaced (1080i), or higher formats. It must be capable of displaying a 16:9 image at the specified vertical resolution of 540p, 810i of higher to meet the definition of HDTV.

* High Definition Television (HDTV) Tuner: This is an RF receiver that will receive all ATSC terrestrial digital transmissions and decodes all ATSC Table 3 video formats. It must output the ATSC Table 3 HDTV formats of 720p or 1080i/p with minimum active vertical scanning lines of 720p, 1080i, or higher. Additionally, it may output HDTV formats converted to other formats. The lower resolution ATSC Table 3 formats can be output at lower resolution levels. Alternatively, the output can be a digital bitstream with the full resolution of the broadcast signal. It must receive and decode or pass-through for decoding Dolby Digital audio.

* Enhanced Definition Television (EDTV): This is a fully integrated television receiver that receives ATSC terrestrial digital transmissions and decodes all ATSC Table 3 video formats. It must have active vertical scanning lines to meet the 480 progressive (480p) format or higher, but does not specify any particular aspect ratio. It must receive and decode or pass-through for decoding Dolby Digital audio.

*Enhanced Definition Television (EDTV) Monitor: This is a monitor (presumably ATSC tunerless) that has active vertical scanning lines to meet the 480 progressive (480p) format or higher, but does not specify a picture aspect ratio.

* Enhanced Definition Television (EDTV) Tuner: This is a RF receiver that receives all ATSC terrestrial digital transmissions and decodes all ATSC Table 3 video formats. It must output the ATSC Table 3 HDTV formats of 720p or 1080i/p with minimum active vertical scanning lines of 480p. Alternatively, the output can be a digital bitstream output capable of transporting 480p, while the ATSC Table 3 480i format can be output at 480i. It must receive and decode or pass-through for decoding Dolby Digital audio.

* Standard Definition Television (SDTV): This now refers to fully integrated television receiver that receivers all ATSC terrestrial digital transmissions and decodes all ATSC Table 3 video formats to "produce a useable picture." It can have active vertical scanning lines less than EDTV quality. No aspect ratio is specified and it must receiver some form of useable audio signal.

* Standard Definition Television (SDTV) Tuner: This is a RF receiver that receives ATSC terrestrial digital transmissions and decodes all ATSC Table 3 video formats. Output may be in the form of NTSC signals. It must receive, decode or pass-through for decoding Dolby Digital audio.

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