Television technology is constantly evolving. Here’s a roadmap to help you navigate the terms and types as you shop for a new TV.
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Since its early days, the technology of television has evolved using a mechanical system invented by Paul Gottlieb Nipkow in 1884. Every television system works on the scanning principle first implemented in the rotating disk scanner of Nipkow. The process turns a two-dimensional image into a time series of signals representing the brightness and color of each resolvable element of the picture.
By repeating a two-dimensional image quickly enough, the impression of motion can be transmitted as well. For the receiving apparatus to reconstruct the image, synchronization information is included in the signal to allow proper placement of each line within the image and identify when a complete image has been transmitted. A new image is to follow.
While mechanically scanned systems were experimentally used, television as a mass medium was made practical by developing electronic camera tubes and displays. It was technically feasible by the 21st century to replace the analog signals for television broadcasting with digital signals. Many television viewers no longer use an antenna to receive over-the-air broadcasts; instead, relying on cable television systems. Increasingly these are integrated with telephone and Internet services.