Page 3: The digital revolution
The television has done more to shape the way we live our lives than most 20th century inventions. Television is now at the beginning of a digital revolution, which will transform the medium over the next decade. Until 1998, television pictures have only been broadcast using an analogue system, this means using radio waves to transmit the signal. Not only does this use up a large amount of the radio spectrum, but also these waves are easily distorted, causing interference and fuzzy pictures.
Digital television uses the same language as computers and compact discs, breaking the information to binary bits, a series of ones and zeros, which are then transmitted to the television. Unlike with analogue, these signals cannot be degraded, resulting in far superior quality of pictures and sound. Reception by aerial, satellite or cable has meant that consumers can now receive up to 164 different channels as well as home shopping, banking and information services. Internet access and cheaper phone calls are also available options.
A series of business alliances and partnerships with both computer and broadcasting companies have strengthened Sony’s position within both these markets. Sony helped to pioneer the development of digital formats for audio-visual products, starting with the compact disc. It is now pushing forward with its mission to consolidate the audio-visual and information technology industries. Its product mix has placed the company in a unique position to be able to do this. All future product development has to conform to Sony’s Video Audio Integrated Operation (VAIO) strategy, with the aim that all products brought to the market place will not only be compatible with each other, but that, in time, can become one. Connectivity brings much greater flexibility than the traditional stand-alone products. For example, the new Sony digital camcorders have an interface to allow the downloading of images directly onto the PC for editing. In June 1999, Sony launched the WEGA Digital flat Widescreen television that includes an array of extra programming to enhance the potential of the set and state of the art digital picture and sound quality. The digital television is being developed so that in the future it will meet all the consumer needs, a one-stop entertainment shop.