The world of television – such a central part of nearly all of our lives – is changing forever. We're talking about the Digital Switchover, which is set to see the UK leaving the world of analogue behind forever next year. With new regions being affected all the time, let's take a look at some of the key questions surrounding the switchover – and how they affect you.
What is the Digital Switchover?
Most of the TV-viewing public will have heard of the Digital Switchover, but what does it really mean? Simply put, it's a changeover from the analogue method of transmit TV programmes via radio signals – a system that has been in use for nearly a century now – to an all-digital system based around modern technology and infrastructure. The switchover is taking place region by region, and started a few years ago already, with the process set to conclude next year.
The obvious benefit of an all-digital signal is picture quality. Unlike analogue transmissions, where signal strength can be changeable, a digital TV picture is either on or not, and quality remains constant. But more than that – an all-digital system allows for additional information to be carried together with broadcasts, such as programming synopses, guides and other information, as well as the option to access additional content through the likes of red-button services.
Do I have to do anything?
Any Toshiba television you buy today is already fully equipped for the Digital Switchover thanks to its built-in Freeview tuner, which doesn't use the analogue system at all to receive signal. But even older all-analogue televisions don't have to be cast aside in an all-digital system – Toshiba sells a range of set-top boxes and DVD players with Freeview built right in.
How is the switchover going?
Region by region the Digital Switchover is moving forward across the UK. The latest region to complete its switch to digital is the Oxford transmitter group, while the crucial Crystal Palace transmitter group in London is set to make the switch in April 2012.
How can I find out more?
There's plenty more information on the Digital Switchover on the Digital UK website – including a postcode checker that lets you see exactly when your area is scheduled to go digital – if it hasn't already – and what TV services and channels will be available to you once it does.