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 Glossary of Terms for DTV and HDTV Consumers

 4:3: Aspect ratio of traditional NTSC TV screens, with 4 unit width by 3 unit height.
More information on aspect ratios is available HERE

16:9: Aspect ratio of widescreen DTV formats for all HDTV and some SDTV (Standard Definition) content, 16 unit width by to 9 unit height.

 8-VSB: Acronym for the transmission method used for over-the-air DTV broadcasting in Canada and the USA. Eight discreet amplitude level, "vestigial side-band" broadcast transmission technology. VSB is an analog modulation technique used to reduce the amount of spectrum needed to transmit information through cable TV, or terrestrial broadcasting.

 AC-3: The 5.1-channel compressed digital sound system specified for DTV broadcasting in Canada. AC-3 delivers CD-quality digital audio and provides five full-bandwidth channels for front left, front right, center, surround left and surround right speakers, plus an LFE (low frequency effect) subwoofer, for a total of 5.1 channels. AC-3 is one member of a family of sound systems developed by Dolby Labs.

A/D: Electronic device that connects an analog television signal to a digital system.

 Addressable Resolution: The highest resolution signal that a display device (television or monitor) can accept as input. Some display devices may not be capable of displaying such signals and may downconvert them to a lower resolution prior to display.

Analog Video: The conventional NTSC television system in use today uses analog technology, in which the image sound and the picture brightness and color are represented by signals proportional to these values. The values of these signals are vulnerable to interference and noise. Digital television overcomes this vulnerability and delivers signals that are totally clean.

 Anamorphic: the squeezing horizontally of a 16:9 image into a full screen 4:3 display, resulting in distortion of the image geometry.

Artefacts: Unwanted visible effects in the picture created by errors in the video processing or noise/interference in analog circuits. Common artefacts include 'edge crawl' or 'hanging dots' in analog pictures or 'blockiness', noise or 'contouring' in digital pictures.

 Aspect Ratio: the ratio of image width to image height. The term may apply to the display device configuration, or the shape of the content being displayed. (See Letterboxing) HDTV uses an aspect ratio of 16 units wide by 9 units high. Conventional television programming and displays are at an aspect ratio of 4:3. Digital SDTV programs may aspect ratios from 4:3 to 16:9, dependant on content and its source (e.g. upconverted NTSC is likely to be 4:3).

 ATSC: "Advanced Television Systems Committee." Formed to establish technical standards for U.S. advanced television systems. ATSC is now used as the catch-all nomenclature for DTV broadcast standards.

 Bandwidth: The range of frequencies used to transmit the television signal, including picture and sound. Analog television signals have been allocated at 6 Megahertz for each over-the-air channel. Digital channels are allocated the same 6 Megahertz by Industry Canada. However, by the use of digital compression, a combination of up to 5 SDTV programs and/or one HDTV program can be carried in this 6 MHz digital channel.

 Baseband Video: Unmodulated analog video signal.

 Bit Rate: The rate at which the data is transmitted, expressed as “bits per second” (bps). The higher the bit rate, the more data that is transmitted, generally resulting in better picture or sound quality. Video data rates are usually expressed as Megabits per second (Mbps, 106) and audio data rates in kilobits per second (kbps, 103).

 Cable Modem: A data modem that provides an Internet connection over the TV cable network. Video-on-demand or interactive services may require such a connection.

 CDTV: Canadian Digital Television, a not-for-profit, government-approved body, with members from all sectors of the TV industry. CDTV is mandated to advise its members, Industry Canada and the CRTC on the roll out of DTV in Canada.

 CEMA: Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association. A U.S. industry group representing manufacturers of consumer electronics products

 Channel: A 6 MHz (bandwidth) section of spectrum for over-the-air broadcast (channels 2 – 69) or in TV cable that carries one analog NTSC program or one or more DTV programs.

 Closed Captioning: A data stream included in broadcast signal that provides text and/or narrative description of dialogue, sounds, and other elements of the picture for viewers with visual or auditory impairments.

 Composite Video Connection: A method to interconnect video devices (such as a DTV set-top box and the analog television) by sending the signal over a single cable. This method is suitable only for analog NTSC signals

 Composite Video: An analog video signal (NTSC, PAL or SECAM) that includes both luminance (brightness) and chrominance (color) signals encoded together to form a single signal.

 Compression: A method of reducing the number of bits required to store or transmit programs by the removal of redundant and/or non-critical information in the digital picture and sound. The DTV broadcasting standard for Canada, uses the MPEG-2 video and the AC-3 audio compression coding. Compression allows the delivery of more programs in a single channel.

 CRT: An analog vacuum tube technology that has been the mainstay of conventional TV displays for many years, writing the picture on a phosphor coated screen with an electron beam. It can produce bright pictures of excellent resolution but the size and weight of a unit suitable for the large, wide-screen displays needed for HDTV may be, for some, a disadvantage.

 CRTC: Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the federal regulatory body for television programming and broadcasting in Canada.

 Datacasting: The inclusion of additional data in the broadcasting stream. Such data may be related to the current program (e.g. sports statistics) or may be completely independent (e.g. software downloading or traffic advisories).

 D/A: Conversion of digital signals to analog signals. Most set-top boxes decode the digital signals broadcast and then convert them to analog signal for interconnection to the display device.

 DLP (Digital Light Processing): A technique in which the displayed image is produced by an array of dynamic micro-mirrors formed on a chip, each reflecting some of the light source to form a pixel on the screen. Each micro-mirror controls the level of the light sent to the screen for its pixel. Resolution is set by the size of the mirror array and versions suitable for wide-screen HDTV are now in production for uses in both front and rear projection televisions.

 Dolby Digital (Dolby AC-3): The 5.1 channel audio standard for DTV and HDTV in Canada and the USA. It includes six discreet audio channels: Left, Center, Right, Left Surround (or side), Right Surround (or side), and a subwoofer -- LFE, "low frequency effects" -- (considered the ".1" as it is limited in bandwidth). Many televisions process these six channels into a two channel stereo pair and do not provide the full 5.1 channel surround sound.

 Dot Pitch: The distance between pixels (picture elements) in a display. In a CRT for HDTV, the dot pitch is typically 0.25 – 0.3 mm. For full resolution HDTV display approximately 1400 pixels are required across the screen.

 Downconvert: The process which reduces the number of pixels in the scanning format used to represent an image, so that it may be reproduced on a display of lower resolution, such as a conventional television. For example, an HDTV image may be downconverted to an SDTV or NTSC image, but in the conversion significant detail information may be lost.

 DTH: Direct-to-Home satellite delivery. May also be called DBS or Direct broadcast satellite. In Canada, Bell ExpressVu and Star Choice provide DTH services in both HDTV and SDTV.

 DTV: "Digital television." This comprises all the components of digital television, including HDTV, SDTV, datacasting, and multicasting, falling under the standards established by the ATSC.

 DTS: Digital Theatre Sound System. A Dolby proprietary discrete 5.1 channel surround system similar to, but not the same as Dolby Digital AC-3, the DTV standard. DTS is used in cinema presentations and in DVD’s.

 DVD: Digital Versatile Disk. An optical recording media similar to the familiar CD but having seven times its capacity on a single side. In television applications, DVD’s are capable of carrying full-length commercial movies, plus additional material such as outtakes, director's notes, movie trailers, etc.

DVI (Digital Video Interface): An interface for transmitting digital video from a source (computer or STB) to a display. The DVI connection carries only digital video data and in HDTV applications the data is protected by the HDCP security protocol. If the DVI interface is used, then audio and control signals must be connected independently.

 EDTV: Enhanced Definition Television. A term defining a television that displays the picture (either from SDTV or HDTV) at a resolution of 480p lines in either 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio and which includes Dolby Digital AC-3 multichannel sound.

 Encryption: The process of coding signals so that a specific code or key is required by the viewer to recover the data so encrypted. Without this key, the data is meaningless. Encryption is used to provide conditional access for private television services.

 EPG: Electronic program guide. An on-screen display of channels and program data.

 Fire Wire: A digital interface originated by Apple Computer that can transport data at 100, 200, or 400 Mbps. It is widely used to interconnect digital video devices, such as cameras and displays. Also referred to as IEEE- 1394.

 Fps: Frames per Second. To give the illusion of motion, television actually transmits a series of snapshot pictures referred to as frames. Increasing the frame rate improves motion smoothness and may reduce flicker in some displays. In Canada both analog and digital television transmits 30 Fps.

HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection): A protocol to secure digital content transmitted across a digital interface, so that it will remain within conforming devices and applications. HDCP is supported by the major content providers and by the CE industry..

HD-ILA (HD Direct drive Image Light Amplifier): A proprietary enhancement of the LCOS chip technology created by JVC for HDTV displays.

HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface): A digital interconnection arrangement among HDTV devices that carries video, audio data (in uncompressed digital form) and control signals. HDMI used a single interconnecting cable of maximum length of 50 ft. approx. The cable terminates in a special 19 pin miniature connector designed for this purpose. The audio/video data transmitted across the HDMI interface is protected by the HDCP   protocol for reasons of security. HDMI allows bi-directional transmission, enabling interactivity and flexible control arrangements.

 HDTV: High Definition Television: HDTV is a TV system having approximately twice the vertical and horizontal picture resolution of today's NTSC TV and having a wide aspect ratio of 16:9. Two HDTV formats are currently in use; (a) 1920 pixels per line and 1080i lines per frame and (b) 1280 pixels per line and 720p lines per frame. HDTV can be recognised by its spectacular picture resolution, freedom from annoying artefacts and impressive 5.1 channel surround sound.

 Interactive Television: TV programming with interactive content and enhancements, blending traditional TV viewing with the interactivity of a personal computer.

 Interlaced Scanning: Some HD televisions and most conventional televisions use the "interlace" method of scanning, in which the picture is transmitted and painted on the screen in two passes. In the first pass, every other line is painted and in the second, the lines in between. Some display types, such as LCD, plasma and DLP cannot display directly images transmitted as interlaced signals and must convert them to a progressive format prior to their display.

 Letterbox: The full display of a wide aspect ratio 16:9 picture on a display of aspect ratio 4:3 will result in black bars above and below the picture. This arrangement is referred to as “Letterbox” and is often seen during movies shown on television.

 LCD. (Liquid Crystal Displays): A flat panel technology, using thin-film crystal techniques, widely used in laptop computers, other small portable displays and more recently in televisions. Image brightness can be very high and color performance can be good. For HDTV, wide-screen displays of adequate resolution are available up to about 94 cm (37 in.) for direct viewing. LCD devices are also widely used as the key element in many projection televisions, both front and rear screen, up to very large sizes.

LCOS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon): A flat panel display technology, similar to LCD. Light is reflected off the pixels formed in the LCOS chip and formed into an image on screen (front or rear) by the associated optics. Color displays may use three LCOS chips, one each for R, G, B or a single LCOS chip multiplexed with a color filter wheel. LCOS achieves very high quality HDTV displays.

 Line Doubling: A method used in some televisions to improve the visual quality of an NTSC interlaced picture, making it comparable to a progressively scanned picture.

Luminance: Component of the video signal that represents the brightness of the image.

 Metadata: Informational data about the data, included in a signal's data stream.

 MMDS: Multichannel, Multipoint Distribution System. A wireless cable system capable of being encoded for pay-per-view and subscriber services.

 MPEG-2: Compression standards for moving images and for audio as set by Motion Pictures Expert Group (MPEG). MPEG-2 video coding is the basis for ATSC digital television transmission in the U.S and Canada.

 Multicasting: Term given to the sharing of the digital television channel among 2, 3, 4 or more individual programs and/or data services

 NTSC: National Television Systems Committee. The organisation that created the standards for production and broadcasting of analog color television programming in Canada and the United States. The term is widely used to mean a composite analog television signal.

 Over-the-air Broadcast (OTA): Also called Terrestrial Broadcast. The delivery of TV and radio signals, using UHF/VHF frequencies, directly to consumer devices. Broadcasts may be either analog or digital.

 Pixel: A picture element; a single displayable video dot. HDTV requires from 1 to 2 million pixels in the display for full resolution images to be shown.

 Plasma Displays (PDP). A technique that builds an image from a large number of pixels formed in a glass panel. The pixels are individually controlled, yielding a picture free of flicker and of high brightness. Displays of excellent resolution and color are available and the display approaches the "television picture on the wall" ideal. PDP displays up to 160 cm (63in.) are available, making them suitable for the home theatre.

 Progressive Scanning: Some HD televisions use the “progressive” method of scanning, in which the whole picture is transmitted and presented on the screen in one pass. The resulting image is thus remarkably free of flicker and motion artefacts, appearing more “life-like”. Some display types, such as LCD, plasma and DLP are inherently of the progressive scan type, while CRT’s may be scanned progressively (as in computer monitors) or interlaced.

 PSIP: Acronym for "Program and System Information Protocol", an ATSC DTV specification that enables a DTV receiver to locate the various programs sent in the DTV channel, to identify the program information and to create on-screen electronic program guides and content advisories.

PVR (Personal Video Recorder): A functionality added to STB's or to Integrated HD televisions, to record and playback programs on one or more channels. Some PVR implementations include capability to selectively record material based on criteria such as program name, content, time, etc.

 Resolution: A measure of the density of lines and dots per line which make up a visual image. Usually, the higher the numbers, the sharper and more detailed the picture will be. In terms of DTV, maximum resolution refers to the number of horizontal scanning lines multiplied by the total number of pixels per line.

 Reverse 3:2 Pull-Down: DTV material originating on film at 24 fps is converted to the 30 fps of DTV by repeating field or frames, resulting in some motion artefacts. Some film presentations remove these repeated images before transmission and send a signal to the television causing it to process (termed Reverse 3:2 Pull-Down) this material appropriately to make it suitable for display. In this way, the displayed material closely matches the original film quality, avoiding the motion artefacts.

 SDTV: "Standard Definition Television." SDTV are based on 480 lines of vertical resolution and may have either 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios, and surround sound. Several SDTV programs are sent together to form the simulcast bundle. While SDTV pictures are of significantly better quality than NTSC, they are not up to the standard of HDTV.

 Set-top box (STB): A box, similar to the familiar cable box, that is capable of receiving, decoding and sending to the associated television the picture and sound of the selected DTV broadcast. The use of an STB would allow the use of conventional televisions to receive DTB programs, but at reduced levels of resolution and with imperfections due to aspect ratio differences, leading to letterboxing or cropping of the sides of the picture.

 Simulcast: The broadcast of the same program simultaneously over two or more different systems or channels, such as in HDTV and in NTSC. CRTC regulations require today that broadcasters simulcast much of their schedules.

 SMPTE: "Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers." A professional organization that is responsible for the standards for film and television production.

 Stream: To send data on a network, such as the Internet, in such a way as to provide or simulate real-time delivery of video and/or audio.

 S-Video Connection: A method to interconnect video devices (such as a DVD player and the analog television) by sending the two signals luminance (Y) and an encoded color difference signal (C). The S-Video connection is made using a cable terminated in a small 4-pin connector (in some cases a 7 pin connector is used on computers to allow inclusion of an NTSC composite signal). S-video can greatly improve the picture when connecting SDTV or NTSC displays to a high quality video source such as DVDs.

 TCP/IP: " Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol." TCP/IP is the method most commonly used in the Internet to transfer data, including streaming video and audio, between computers.

 Terrestrial: A broadcast signal transmitted "over the air" to an antenna.

 Upconvert: The process which increases the number of pixels or frame rate used to represent an image by creating new pixels at closer spacing. For instance SDTV video having 720 x 480 pixels may be upconverted to 1280 x 720 pixels for use as HDTV. The upconversion process does not increase the resolution of image.

 Video-on-Demand (VOD): A programming library service offering the individual viewer the choice of the available content on demand. When the program is requested and confirmed (by telephone or Internet) it is then delivered to the viewer over an available channel in encrypted form. VOD services are generally arranged on a “Pay per View” basis, analogous to the cinema.

 VSB: " Vestigial side band." VSB is an analog modulation technique used to reduce the amount of spectrum needed to transmit information through cable TV, or over-the-air broadcasts.

 Widescreen: see 16:9

Y, PB, PR: An analog method for carrying the video between HDTV or SDTV devices that retains the maximum video quality and is widely used for HD television. The video is carried on three cables, respectively carrying luminance (Y) and the two color difference signals (PB, PR).

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