Within the world of digital home services, there are dozens if not hundreds of different terms and phrases that readers might not understand within a certain context. Our hope is to help educate everyone about these terms, so they can shop smarter and live easier.

After all, what is Digital Landing?

Your connected life, simplified.


Digital Services Glossary

A-C | D-F | G-K | L-P | Q-U | V-Z

An evolving family of wireless networking standards, from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Each letter specifies a data speed and frequency range, with “n” being the fastest and due for release in September 2008.

  • See also: Wireless LAN (WLAN)
  • Related Link: Connecting a second computer to your home wireless network

Access Point
A device that connects to a wireless network and lets mobile users connect to the Internet when in range.

  • See also: Wireless LAN (WLAN)

All-In-One Printer
A printer that can also send faxes, scan documents and make copies.

  • See also: Multifunction Printer (MFP)

Aspect Ratio
A screen’s ratio of width to height.

A copy of a program or file that is stored separately from the original for safe keeping.

Backward Compatible
Hardware or software that is compatible with its previous versions.

The volume of data that a transmission medium, such as an Internet connection, can handle, typically measured in bits per second. Analogous to a pipe — the bigger the pipe, the larger the volume of water that can flow through it.

  • See also: Bits Per Second (Bps)

Bits Per Second (Bps)
A measurement of data speed — the faster, the better. One megabit equals 1 million bits; 1 gigabit equals 1 billion bits.

  • See also: Byte

A small, handheld device that lets a user access the Internet, maintain an address book and calendar, make phone calls and send and receive e-mail, among other features.

  • See also: Handheld, Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)

Enables the short-range transmission of digital voice and data, such as from a user’s wireless cell-phone headset to his cell phone.

A next-generation optical disk format that allows data to be packed more tightly and stored in less space than a traditional DVD. Competitor to HD-DVD.

  • See also: DVD

A device that connects two or more local area networks (LANs) together. Faster than a router but with less functionality.

  • See also: Local Area Network (LAN), Router

High-speed Internet access enabling the transfer of high-quality content, such as video, that may not be technically feasible by connecting to the Internet via traditional telephone wires.

  • See also: Dial-Up, DSL, Cable Modem, Satellite, Broadband Over Powerline, Fiber Optic, Wireless Broadband

Broadband Over Powerline (BPL) 
A type of broadband technology that delivers data over an existing electric power distribution network, with speeds comparable to DSL and cable modem broadband technologies.

A measurement of computer storage — the bigger, the more that can be stored. One megabyte equals 1 million bytes; 1 gigabyte equals 1 billion bytes.

A bundle of wires, with plugs on both ends, that connects computer parts.

Cable Modem
A type of broadband technology delivered via cable. Also refers to the specific device that provides broadband Internet access using the same cables that deliver programs to a user’s TV.

  • See also: Broadband, Cable

An interface for digital TV that lets a user plug a cable line directly into a TV set without the need for a set-top box.

  • See also: Set-Top Box

A small, fast storage mechanism within a computer that holds recently accessed data, such as a Web page, designed to speed up subsequent access to the same data.

A company that provides communication services, such as Internet access.

Cat5 Cable
A common type of cabling used for computer networks.

A type of optical disk technology able to store 300,000 pages of text.

  • See also: DVD

Cellular Communications
A type of wireless connection that divides a geographic region into sections, called cells.

Describes the relationship between a user’s computer (client) and the machine (server) from which it requests information, such as a Web page.

A transmission line that sends telegraph, telephone and television signals.

A device that compresses and decompresses data, or encodes and decodes a signal between networks.

  • See also: Compression, Encryption

Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA)
A digital wireless communications technology that allows more subscribers to connect at any given time than competing technologies.

Compact Disc (CD)
A small optical disk usually containing recorded music or computer data.

  • See also: DVD

Compact Disc-Recordable (CD-R) 
A CD technology that allows files to be recorded, but not erased.

  • See also: CD-RW

Compact Disc-Rewritable (CD-RW)
A CD technology that allows files to be both added and deleted.

  • See also: CD-R

The process of transforming information to a smaller representation to take up less storage space and/or transmit faster.

The combination of two or more different technologies in a single device, such as Internet telephony.

  • See also: Internet Telephony

A personal computer that is not portable and stays on top of a desk. Also refers to the display area on the computer.

A type of connection that is established over telephone lines using a modem.

  • See also: Modem

Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA)
A group of technology companies that promote a vision of a wired and wireless interoperable network of computers, electronics and mobile devices in the home.

Digital Noise Reduction (DNR)
A process to reduce the amount of random noise on a DVD.

Digital Powerline Networ
Technology provides the transmission of data to users over the same lines that bring electric power to homes and businesses.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
A type of broadband technology that transmits data faster over traditional telephone lines already installed to homes and businesses.

  • See also: Broadband

Digital Video Recorder (DVR)
Records, saves and plays back TV programs from a hard drive instead of traditional video tape. Also known as a personal video recorder, or “PVR.” TiVo is a popular brand.

  • See also: PVR

Digital Visual Interface (DVI)
A digital connection used to connect devices such as projectors and TVs, replaced by HDMI.

  • See also: HDMI, Flat Panel

Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS)
A one-way TV broadcast service that transmits data from a communications satellite to a small round or oval dish antenna, providing a similar service to cable.

The TV-like part of the computer that displays information.

  • See also: Monitor

An MPEG-4-based compressed digital video format used to distribute movies on the Internet.

  • See also: MPEG

Dolby Digital
The surround sound standard format used in today’s home theaters for DVD-video and in part for HDTV.

  • See also: Surround Sound, DVD, HDTV

Dots Per Inch (DPI)
Measures the resolution of displays and printers.

  • See also: Pixel, Resolution

The act of receiving a file from another computer, over a network, and saving it on your own computer.

  • See also: Upload

Reads and writes discs, such as a CD-ROM.

  • See also: CD-ROM

A type of optical disk technology similar to a CD-ROM but able to store a full-length movie.

Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM)
The most common type of computer memory.

Electronic Mail (E-Mail)
Text messages sent to recipients over the Internet. Files such as documents and photos can be attached and mailed as well.

A method used to scramble transmitted data, making it unreadable to everyone except the recipient.

Enhanced Definition TV (EDTV)
A TV that is capable of receiving high-definition broadcasts, but can’t display them in true HD quality.

  • See also: High-Definition TV (HDTV)

The standard technology a user needs to access a local area network (LAN).

  • See also: Local Area Network (LAN), Router

Fax Machine
A device that scans a paper document and transmits the image over the telephone system.

Fiber Optic
A type of broadband technology with speeds far exceeding that of DSL or cable modem.

  • See also: Broadband, DSL, Cable Modem

File Hosting Service
A company that provides space on a server it owns for the general public.

File Sharing
The accessing or sharing of files by one or more users.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
A standard way to transfer files between computers.

A high-speed connector widely used for downloading video from digital camcorders to the computer.

  • See also: USB

Flat Panel/Screen
A thin display monitor used for computers and TVs.

  • Related Link: How to hang a flat screen HDTV

A single image in a sequence of images.

An alternative to cable that allows for high-speed, “always on” digital communications over standard phone lines.

  • See also: Cable

A small file format with a limit of 256 colors. Image quality is less than a JPEG or TIFF.

  • See also: JPEG, TIFF

Gigabit Ethernet (GigE)
A type of local area network (LAN) technology that raises transmission speed to 1 Gbps.

  • See also: Local Area Network (LAN), Router

Global Systems For Mobile Communications (GSM)
One of the world’s leading digital cellular systems, most popular in Europe and Asia.

A person who develops a program that can break into a computer, Web site, database, etc.

Handheld electronic devices, such as a BlackBerry, that lets a user access the Internet, send e-mail, organize a schedule and more.

  • See also: PDA, Blackberry
  • Related Link: BlackBerry, iPhone, smartphone: What’s the difference?

Hard Drive
The primary storage device in desktop and laptop computers, servers and other equipment.

  • See also: Desktop, Laptop, Server

High Definition DVD (HD-DVD)
High-density disk format designed to hold high-definition (HD) video. Competitor to Blu-ray.

  • See also: High Definition (HD)

HDTV Ready
Any TV that can display high-definition formats when connected to a separate HDTV tuner.

  • See also: High Definition (HD), High-Definition TV (HDTV)

High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP)
Helps prevent digital audio and video content from being copied or intercepted while in transmission.

  • See also: DVI, HDMI

High Definition (HD)
Describes image resolution or audio quality that is far superior to the highest quality standard definition TVs and stereos.

  • See also: Resolution

High Definition Audio-Video Network Alliance (HANA)
An organization whose goal is to create standards-based, interoperable solutions to enhance the high-definition (HD) entertainment experience.

  • See also: High Definition (HD)

High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI)
A USB-like connector capable of transmitting high-quality and high-bandwidth streams of audio and video between compatible devices.

  • See also: USB

High-Definition TV (HDTV)
A high-resolution digital television broadcast and playback system, superior to traditional TV quality.

  • See also: < href=”/tv-hdtv/article_display.cfm/article_id/4437″>A Beginner’s guide to HDTV

Home Theatre In A Box (HTIB)
A system that contains the equipment a user needs to create a home entertainment center, such as speakers and subwoofers.

Locations, such as airports, hotels and even Starbucks, that offer public access to Wi-Fi wireless networks.

  • See also: Wi-Fi

A device used to connect multiple computers to a single network connection.

HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
The first four letters of a Web site address, representing the protocol used to connect to the Web.

  • See also: URL

Inkjet Printer
A popular type of printer that uses wet ink or toner, resulting in pages that can smear upon output. Appropriate for minimal printing needs.

  • See also: Laser Printer

Interactive Television (ITV)
Allows viewers to interact with television content as they view it, beyond controlling the volume or channel.

Interlaced Scanning
A method that transmits and presents an entire picture on a television screen in two passes.

  • See also: Progressive Scanning

International Standards Organization (ISO)
One of the world’s largest developers of technical standards, such as 802.11.

  • See also: 802.11

An electronic communications network that connects computer networks and organizational computer facilities around the world.

Internet Protocol (IP)
The basic communications protocol of the Internet.

  • See also: Protocol

Internet Service Provider (ISP)
A company that provides access to the Internet.

IP Address
A unique string of numbers that identifies a computer or server on the Internet.

IP Telephony
Enables users to make phone calls over the Internet via a computer and some specialized equipment, such as a VoIP phone.

Apple Computer’s mobile phone.

Apple Computer’s popular music player

A file format used for the transport of compressed images. Image quality is better than a GIF but less than a TIFF.

  • See also: GIF, TIFF

Refers to standard communications systems that use fixed, in-ground and telephone pole cables as opposed to wireless services.

A portable computer that’s not confined to one location and can typically fit in a user’s lap.

  • See also: Desktop

Laser Printer
A popular type of printer that uses dry ink or toner to produce pages that don’t smear upon output. Appropriate for high printing needs.

  • See also: Inkjet Printer

The time between initiating a request in a computer and receiving an answer.

Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)
A display technology used in flat-panel monitors.

  • See also: Flat Panel/Screen

Local Area Network (LAN)
A communications network within a building or complex.

  • See also: Wireless LAN (WLAN)

Local Loop
The connection between a carrier’s central office to the phone lines in a subscriber’s home or office.

Local Storage
Refers to storing content at a user’s location.

Macintosh (Mac)
Apple Computer’s brand of personal computer.

  • See also: Personal Computer (PC)

A harmful program designed to destroy or disrupt a user’s computer.

  • See also: Virus, Spyware

Media Center PC
A computer that’s made to combine multiple entertainment devices into one unit.

Wireless technology that travels with a user, such as a laptop or cell phone.

A device that enables a computer to transmit and receive information over telephone lines.

The TV-like part of the computer that displays information.

  • See also: Display

A file containing a song or other audio data that uses the MPEG standard.

  • See also: MPEG, Napster

A family of standards designed by the Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) for the delivery of video to consumer devices. Each number specifies its own data rate and resolution.

Multifunction Printer (MFP)
A printer that can also send faxes, scan documents and make copies.

  • See also: All-In-One Printer

A variety of technologies that combine visual and audio media for the purpose of communication and/or entertainment.

A subscription-based MP3 music download service.

  • See also: MP3

A wired or wireless system, such as the Internet, that transmits voice, video and/or data between users.

  • See also: Internet

Network Adapter
A device that connects a computer to a network.

Networked Storage
Refers to data files kept on a central storage system, such as a server, rather than one’s own computer.

  • See also: Storage

Describes a connection that is broken or not connected to the Internet.

  • See also: Online

On Demand
Refers to receiving a service when asked for, not according to a predetermined schedule.

Describes an active connection to the Internet.

  • See also: Offline

Open Source
Any program whose code is available for use or modification by others.

Optical Digital Cable
Offers one of the best reproductions of digital signals available as long as cables aren’t bent.

A pocket-size device that receives alert signals and/or short messages.

Pay As You Go
Service that is paid for as it’s used, instead of billed for at the end of each month.

Personal Computer (PC)
Refers to a personal computer, including desktops and laptops, designed for a single user.

  • See also: Desktop, Laptop, Macintosh (Mac)

PC Card
A credit card-size memory or input/output device that fits into a computer.

Peer-To-Peer Communications (P2P)
The transmission of files between two similar computers over a network.

Peripheral Device
A device that connects into a computer, such as a printer, keyboard or mouse.

Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)
Handheld electronic devices, such as a BlackBerry, that lets a user access the Internet, send e-mail, organize a schedule and more.

  • See also: Handheld, Blackberry

Personal Video Recorder (PVR)
Records, saves and plays back TV programs from a hard drive instead of traditional video tape. Also known as a “DVR.” TiVo is a popular brand.

  • See also: DVR

Tiny dots that make up a picture.

  • See also: DPI

Display technology used in many large-screen, flat-panel TVs.

Plug and Play
Automatic set-up of peripheral devices to a computer, such as a printer or multimedia device.

  • See also: Peripheral Device

An audio broadcast that has been converted to an audio file for playback in a digital music player or computer.

A device that prints text and/or illustrations on paper.

  • See also: Laser Printer, Inkjet Printer

Private Branch Exchange (PBX)
A device that connects telephones with the public telephone network.

Progressive Scanning
A method that transmits and presents an entire picture on a television screen in one pass, reducing flickering.

  • See also: Interlaced Scanning

An agreed-on format for transmitting data between two devices.

Rear Projection Television (RPTV)
A TV in which the image is projected and reflected onto the screen from behind the screen.

Measures the sharpness of a video image, signal or display.

Permits the use of a cell phone when the user is out of his home coverage area, though typically for a higher fee.

A device that connects two or more local area networks (LANs) together, with more functionality than a bridge but at a slower speed.

Satellite Broadband
A form of wireless broadband technology that delivers data via satellite, with speeds slower than DSL and cable modem but faster than dial-up.

  • See also: Wireless Broadband, DSL, Cable Modem, Dial-Up

Satellite Master Antenna TV (SMATV)
A small cable TV system that delivers content to a housing complex or hotel.

A device that copies images from photos, posters and similar sources for computer editing and display.

A computer system in a network that is shared by multiple users.

Set-Top Box
A device that sits on top of a user’s television and connects it into a video subscriber network.

Software that is downloaded from the Internet on a free trial-basis.

Signal Booster
A device that enhances the picture and sound quality on a high-definition TV.

  • See also: HDTV

SIM Card
A stamp-size card in a cell phone that contains user account information.

Sirius Radio
One of two satellite radio services in North America that provides pay-for-service radio, analogous to cable television.

  • See also: XM Satellite Radio

Like paper junk mail, refers to unwanted and/or unsolicited e-mail.

  • See also: E-Mail

Software that monitors a person’s computer activity without permission.

Devices or media, such as a CD-ROM or computer hard drive, that retain data for long periods of time.

  • See also: CD-ROM, Hard Drive, Networked Storage

Streaming Media
The rapid transmission of video and audio via the Internet.

Surround Sound
The use of multiple audio tracks that makes a user feel as if he’s in the middle of an event, such as a concert.

Tablet PC
A type of notebook computer that lets a user take notes directly on the screen using a special pen.

Two protocols that together allow a computer to communicate over the Internet.

  • See also: Protocol

Text Messaging
Allows short text messages to be sent and received on a mobile phone or BlackBerry.

A high-quality file format for storing images such as photographs, providing more detail than a GIF or JPEG.

  • See also: GIF, JPEG

Time Shifting
The act of digitally recording a TV program for later viewing.

Ultrawideband Radio (UWB)
Technology that optimizes wireless connectivity between multimedia devices operating within a designated range.

Universal Remote
A single remote control that can operate a variety of devices found in a home entertainment center, such as the TV, DVD player and stereo.

Universal Serial Bus (USB)
A standard type of plug that connects devices, such as a printer, scanner or digital camera, to a computer.

  • See also: Wireless USB, FireWire

The process of transferring, or sending, a file from one computer to another through a modem or network.

  • See also: Modem, Download

Refers to a Web site’s Internet address, typically beginning with “http.”

  • See also: HTTP

Video On Demand (VoD)
An interactive multimedia system that lets a user select and view a movie from a large video database when desired — not according to a predetermined schedule.

  • See also: Multimedia

A conversation between two or more users who are in separate locations but can see and hear each other over a computer network.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A private data network that makes use of the public telephone network, as opposed to more costly leased lines.

A program, often transmitted as attachments to an e-mail, that can wreak havoc on a computer when opened.

  • See also: Malware

Voice Over IP (VoIP)
Enables users to make phone calls over the Internet via a computer and some specialized equipment, such as a VoIP phone.

Voice Over WiFi (VoWiFi)
Technology that allows users to communicate wirelessly by voice over networks, such as the Internet.

  • See also: Wi-Fi, Voice Over WLAN (VoWLAN)

Voice Over WLAN (VoWLAN)
Technology that allows users to communicate wirelessly by voice over networks, such as the Internet.

  • See also: Wi-Fi, Voice Over WiFi (VoWiFi)

A computerized telephone answering system that digitizes incoming voice messages and stores them.

Using a laptop, antenna and other equipment to cruise around by car in highly networked areas and look for open access points to access sensitive information.

  • See also: Access Point

Wide Area Network (WAN)
A long-distance communications network that covers a wide geographic area, such as a state or country.

  • See also: Local Area Network (LAN)

Wi-Fi Alliance
A nonprofit organization that promotes 802.11 standardization and oversees product-interoperability testing for high-speed wireless LANs.

  • See also: Wireless LAN (WLAN), 802.11

WiFi Protected Access (WEP)
A security standard for protecting wireless networks.

  • See also: WiFi

WiMedia Alliance
A nonprofit organization that promotes worldwide adoption and standardization of ultrawideband radio (UWB).

  • See also: Ultrawideband Radio (UWB)

Refers to numerous forms of transmission that do not use metal wires or optical fibers.

A popular operating system from Microsoft designed for running desktop and laptop computers.

  • See also: Macintosh (Mac)

Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
A set of specifications that lets developers build networked applications designed for handheld wireless devices.

  • See also: Protocol, Handheld

Wireless Broadband
A type of broadband technology that delivers data via a radio link, with speeds comparable to DSL and cable modem.

  • See also: Broadband, DSL, Cable Modem

Wireless Fidelity (WiFi)
Technology that lets users wirelessly connect to networks, such as the Internet, based on 802.11 standards.

  • See also: 802.11

Wireless HD
A wireless digital interface that enables high-definition (HD) audio video streaming and high-speed content transmission.

Wireless HD Consortium
A group of electronics manufacturers formed to enable high-definition video to be streamed wirelessly to high-definition TVs.

Wireless High Definition Interface (WHDI)
Technology capable of supporting very high uncompressed video rates beyond what WiFi offers.

  • See also: WiFi

Wireless Local Area Network (Wireless LAN, WLAN)
A system of wirelessly connecting computers and other devices within the same physical proximity so they can share resources, such as an Internet connection or printer.

Wireless Message Format (WMF)
A standard format for presenting data received through a paging system to mobile computers.

Wireless Router
A device that accepts connections from wireless devices to a network, such as a laptop to the Internet.

Wireless USB
A standard type of plug that wirelessly connects devices, such as a printer, scanner or home entertainment components, to a computer.

  • See also: Universal Serial Bus (USB)

Wireless Voice Over IP (VoFi)
Enables users to make wireless phone calls over the Internet.

  • See also: Voice Over IP (VoIP)

World Wide Web
A global, virtual network of connected computers that serve documents, files and other resources over the Internet.

  • See also: Internet

XM Satellite Radio
One of two satellite radio services in North America that provides pay-for-service radio, analogous to cable television.

  • See also: Sirius Satellite Radio

A single file comprised of multiple files that have been compressed, or reduced, in size for easy transmission.


A-C | D-F | G-K | L-P | Q-U | V-Z


Photo credit: incurable_hippie via photo pin cc