What Happens Now?
At the time of writing (March 2001), Digital Television was still going through a difficult birth in Australia, through lack of equipment. There could be lots of reasons - I'm mostly inclined to blame late substantial changes made to the specifications by the government, but there are other reasons too.
This phase will pass - and various companies are getting increasingly specific about exactly what they plan to offer, when they plan to offer it and how much they'll be wanting people to pay for it.
Your current television should be able to be used for its entire service life. It will be able to receive digital broadcasts through a "Set Top Unit". While it won't be able to take advantage of High Definition, it will be able to show high quality pictures to the best of its ability. It will also be able to use multicasting, where such broadcasts be permitted.
Your current VCR should be able to continue service in much the same way as your current television. Again, it won't record High Definition, but it will record pictures to the best of its ability, via a "Set Top Unit".
You should be able to use your current antennae to receive digital television. Digital uses the same VHF and UHF bands as analog television. The only exception will be if you only have one type at the moment and digital uses the other in your area. The Australian Broadcasting Authority will attempt to avoid such an outcome.
The Set Top Unit will probably be the option many people take to upgrade to digital television. While you will miss out on High Definition Television, your existing television should be able to show pictures of as much quality that it is capable of, free of interference and ghosting.
There will probably be many different types of Set Top Units available, offering different features. These could include multicasting reception, data reception and Stereo or potentially Surround Sound output (although this will require audio equipment).
It may also be possible to use one Set Top Unit to receive digital broadcasts from various sources, such as Satellite, Microwave (MDS) or Cable as well as "off the air". This capability is entirely a decision for the subscription television companies.
The Digital Television will have one very obvious feature - Widescreen, though note that there are also Analog Widescreen televisions around. Also note that many products such as the Panasonic Tau range use the expression "Digital" misleadingly in my opinion. It refers to Digital processing of the analogue signal in an attempt to improve it, which quite probably works. It's still not a Digital TV.
There will probably be various types of Digital Television, some may take full advantage of High Definition, some may take some advantage of it, some may take no advantage of it. There will obviously be a price differential involved. As with televisions today, there will probably be various other features available.
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