Friday, May 28, 1999 Published at 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Digital TV: Exactly what do you get?
Everyone likes to know they are wanted, and that's exactly how you will feel if you pop along to a high street electrical store at the moment.
A battle is under way in the digital television market and both sides are clamouring over themselves for the public's attention.
Like rowing parents heading for a divorce suit, Sky and ONdigital are scoring points against one another in a bid for custody of the customer.
And like little lost children, we, the consumer, look to both for guidance but are left bewildered by the barrage of claims and counter claims.
Because digital signals require a smaller bandwidth than analogue ones, many more can be broadcast simultaneously. The result - hundreds more possible television channels.
In November, ONdigital launched its terrestrial service as an alternative to Sky's system, which requires a satellite receiving dish.
Digital needs decoding
While the ONdigital technology uses a television's existing aerial, both platforms require a set-top box to decode the digital signal. Since digital TV will eventually replace analogue, the decoding technology will soon be built into new televisions.
In a bid to win customers, both sides have slashed the price of their set-top boxes to nothing. But there are additional costs in each case.
So which is right for you?
A full comparison of the services would have a reader scrolling down the page for some time, but there are a number of salient points to be made.
Unfortunately, the issue is complicated by the fact that this is not a two-horse race. Cable operators Telewest, NTL and Cable and Wireless will be launching their own digital services towards the end of this year.
But Ian Hood, of Telewest, says the existing cable services are more than a match for digital, offering up to 50 channels and pay-per-view films.
One voice of sanity has been that of the independent consumer magazine, Which?
It disputes claims that digital television offers significantly superior reception quality than analogue and advises consumers to wait and see.
"If you do want to watch the new digital channels, hire a terrestrial or satellite system from a rental shop - this should only cost £8 per month," Which? advised in a recent edition.