Truth Patrol: EDTV is Analog?

HDTV Truth Patrol

I know I did a Truth Patrol entry last week, but this one is too good to pass up. The WCPO Channel 9 Web site ran a story from the E.W. Scripps Co. about what you can expect to pay for an HDTV. The piece was doing fine until it ran off the tracks at the end:

However, be careful of flat screen TV’s for much under $300: They may look like an HDTV, but may still be analog. For instance, an “EDTV” is really analog, and won’t pick up signals after 2009. Avoid it.

Okay, this is wrong on so many counts. First, any new television sold in this country has to have a digital tuner. If a store is selling old stock that does not have an analog tuner, then it has to have a prominent disclaimer that makes it clear that it will not be able to receive digital broadcasts after most local television broadcasters shut off their analog broadcasts on February 17, 2009. After that time, you’ll need a converter box to receive the free over-the-air local television broadcasts. (It looks as though my prediction of $50 converter boxes is going to be on target, and after the federal government’s $40 rebate coupon, it will cost you $10 or less.)

EDTV is not an analog broadcast resolution. Only standard definition can be broadcast on an analog signal, and that’s an interlaced 480 line resolution. No matter how you define EDTV — either progressive scan 480p standard screen width, or wide 480p with 848 by 480 pixels — it requires a digital signal to convey that much data. You can get that from a DVD player, but not over the air.

EDTVs with just analog tuners do exist, just as HDTVs with just analog tuners exist. But there is nothing about an EDTV that requires it to only have an analog tuner. And any EDTV with a digital tuner is going to work just fine in 2009.

Is anyone surprised that people are confused about this?

Thanks to Rob for sending in this one. You can win a coveted “Truth Patrol” t-shirt if we use an item you send in that manages to get HDTV explanations twisted sideways.