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During the past several years, the use of digital techniques in the field of color television has become widespread. This paper examines the fundamental building block for a digital system, the codec, consisting of an A/D converter, a D/A converter, and appropriate low-pass filters. After a brief description of the hardware, several parameters of particular interest In color video application are discussed. Test methods are described, and actual results are presented. Alternate test methods are proposed when conventional analog tests provide ambiguous or misleading results. The characterization procedures presented here should assist newcomers to digital television in evaluating A/D and D/A conversion equipment for use in video systems. The test results also indicate the high degree of performance that is achievable with properly designed state-state-of-the-art hardware.