You’ll often see the term “Integrated ATSC Tuner” in the description of an HDTV. ATSC is replacing the traditional NTSC standard that we all grew up with. NTSC, or, the National Television Systems Committee is an analog television format that was established in 1940 by the FCC.
ATSC, the Advanced Television Systems Committee, is a digital standard that was established in 1982. This standard is also used in Canada, Mexico, and other countries are adopting it as well. ATSC allows for the widescreen 16:9 format, and images up to 1920×1080 pixels. Along with the hi def signal, multiple standard definition channels can also be transmitted on the same 6MHz channel. ATSC also integrates a higher audio standard. Using the Dolby Digital AC-3 format, ATSC can provide you with 5.1 channel surround sound.
So in most cases you would want to purchase an HDTV with an “Integrated ATSC Tuner”. Whether built-in to your television set, or an external receiver/tuner, this element will work to decode the transport stream (which may be better understood as a broadcast signal), so that images display on your set. Those of you who have televisions that don’t have built-in ATSC tuners will need an external receiver/tuner to receive and decode the signals. These receivers can be purchased from most consumer electronic stores, or rented through cable and satellite providers.