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Analog Cable vs. Digital Cable vs. HDTV

by benboy12 / August 16, 2006 11:24 AM PDT

Ok, so we recently purchased a High-definiton plasma TV. We currently have regular analog cable. The picture on the display doesn't look that great. We are upgrading to digital cable w/ the high definition package. I know the few HD channels we get will look great. What about the others? Will the digital cable look better than the analog cable? Its a Samsung HPS4253 plasma TV. We are going to use an HDMI cable to connect the cable box to the TV.

Also does anyone know the resolution broadcast on analog cable and the resolution on non-HD digital cable?

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Analog Cable vs. Digital Cable vs. HDTV
by jcrobso / August 17, 2006 1:37 AM PDT

Regular analog cable is SD video, when you watch it on a HDTV you get the Cool Aid effect of using 4 quarts of water instead of 2 quarts of water. It's just not going to be as good.
When you get your HD cable box all the HD programs should look great, then non HD/SD will look about the same as they do now, maybe a little better. John

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I agree
by kena10 / August 17, 2006 2:46 AM PDT

John's absolutely right

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Digital signal degradation vs. analog signal degradation
by speleofool / August 17, 2006 5:05 AM PDT

Digital should probably look as good or better than the analog signal, but not because digital is inherently "better." It has to do with the way the signals work.

As the analogue signal loses strength (from long cable runs through your house, splitting, signal weakening before it reaches your home, etc.), the picture will get progressively worse. You lose picture details, get graininess, etc., until the picture eventually degrades into "snow."

With a digital signal, as long as the signal is strong enough to accurately differentiate the 1's and 0's the cable box can reproduce the picture with 100% clarity. As the signal degrades, there's no steady decline in picture quality. There will be an intermediate point where errors will begin to occur in interpretting the bits, and you may see large ugly blocks on the screen. When the errors get bad enough you simply get no video at all (usually a blue screen).

A top-quality analogue signal can look every bit as good as a digital signal, but in real life you'll probably have a degraded signal by the time it reaches your TV. If the cable company does their job correctly, both analogue and digital signals should look good at the point they enter the house. As you start splitting the signal or running long cable connections to your TV, you'll likely lose a little strength and the picture on your TV may show some artifacts from that. A digital signal at that same strength will be plenty good enough to output a great picture. The end result is that the digital cable should look perfect whereas analog should look perfect or nearly so (which is another way of saying digital should look as good or better).


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Our picture is grainy
by benboy12 / August 17, 2006 4:54 PM PDT

Our picture is grainy. I am hoping it will look better with digital. I think it is our cable signal because we have a 20" sharp aquaos(non-HD) hooked up and the picture isnt that great, either. It is just kinda discouraging when you spent a couple thousand dollars on a TV and the picture isnt that great.

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