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Author Topic: Digital TVs  (Read 2311 times)

GrannyGeek

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Digital TVs
« on: March 29, 2008, 04:38:55 pm »

As everyone in the US should know, by law all analog off-air TV broadcasts have to end next February and basically all off-air broadcasts will be digital. If you have an analog TV you can get a converter box that will change the digital signal to analog so your old TV will continue to work. The government is offering every household two coupons worth $40 toward purchase of digital converters.

The old analog TV in our bedroom was near death (remote didn't work most of the time and the fault was with the TV, not the remote), so we decided to get a new LCD 19" widescreen HDTV. I ordered it online for in-store pickup. We live in the country, have no wire cable available, have indoor antennas for each TV, and have always had bad reception on the two VHF channels we get and often-bad reception for the Fox UHF channel.  We had no idea whether we'd be able to get any digital signals with the new TV.

Well--
What a surprise! We get 11 digital channels--all that are available here except for one that we have to receive as analog because the digital signal doesn't make it. With the analog TV we got six channels, of which two came in very badly and one was highly variable. With digital TV you don't get snow or wobbling or static or ghosts. It either comes in or it doesn't. If the signal is weak it will pixellate or break up. The picture is beautiful. We haven't had good reception on VHF channels for the 31 years we've lived in this location. We're still trying to believe we can actually see CBS and NBC without snow that practically obscured the picture.

We *needed* the new TV for the bedroom, but my husband was so impressed with the picture that he said we had to get an HDTV for the living room, too. So the very next day we bought a 26" widescreen. It's beautiful, too--perfect reception on the 11 digital channels and the one channel we have to watch as analog. The size is fine for the living room, which is not large.

Of course, since we now have good reception for the channels that came in poorly as analog, we needed something for time switching and recording shows. Our analog VCRs can't record a digital channel. So I did some research and decided to get a hard drive/DVD recorder, which can record both analog and digital signals.

The downside to all this (besides paying for it<g>) was learning how to use the new TVs and HDD/DVD recorder. I never hooked up anything more complex than coax going from antenna to VCR to TV. All of a sudden I was faced with composite, S-video, component, and HDMI. Pretty much a crash course on cables! I've got the HDD/DVD recorder figured out to the extent that I can do a timer recording of a show and a playback. My husband is pretty much a Luddite when it comes to this newfangled stuff, though he doesn't mind watching what I've recorded.

Of course, getting all this equipment set up and learning to use it didn't leave me much time for installing the VL 64-bit version, which I can't do anyway until I finish an urgent project (which also get pushed aside temporarily). But now we can actually *see* what's on instead of a screenful of snow. Life is good!
--GrannyGeek
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nightflier

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Re: Digital TVs
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2008, 12:24:17 pm »

Granny, I'm happy to hear that your introduction to digital TV was a pleasant one.

Maybe the technology has matured enough for me to look into it again. I got a big HDTV 7 years ago. Paid hundreds of dollars for a separate tuner. The picture is great when you get a good signal, but in my case I got fewer usable stations than the analog rabbit ears, even with a huge attic antenna.
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nubcnubdo

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Re: Digital TVs
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2008, 12:45:06 pm »

Advisory: said coupon has 90-day expiry, so make it count.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2008, 02:45:25 pm by nubcnubdo »
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Triarius Fidelis

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Re: Digital TVs
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2008, 05:45:30 pm »

As everyone in the US should know, by law all analog off-air TV broadcasts have to end next February and basically all off-air broadcasts will be digital.

I shudder to think of all the thought-provoking programming I'll miss out on if I don't get a converter box
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dawnsboy

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Re: Digital TVs
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2008, 06:24:30 pm »

Quote
I shudder to think of all the thought-provoking programming I'll miss out on if I don't get a converter box

 ;D LMAO
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GrannyGeek

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Re: Digital TVs
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2008, 07:18:39 pm »

Maybe the technology has matured enough for me to look into it again. I got a big HDTV 7 years ago. Paid hundreds of dollars for a separate tuner. The picture is great when you get a good signal, but in my case I got fewer usable stations than the analog rabbit ears, even with a huge attic antenna.

I'm sure things have changed a lot in seven years, but your problem may have nothing to do with something newer technology could change. The kind of building you live in can have a big effect, as well as the terrain, whether something tall is blocking the signal, whether there is interference from an airport, and so forth.

Have you checked www.antennaweb.org? I see that the station we can receive only as analog is transmitting the digital signal from nearly 50 miles away. The analog feed we get is from some sort of booster that's just a few miles away. The digital stations we can receive range from 24 to 34 miles away. So I guess the distance is too great for the one we can't get.

Are you able to rotate your attic antenna?
--GrannyGeek
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GrannyGeek

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Re: Digital TVs
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2008, 07:20:24 pm »

Advisory: said coupon has 90-day expiry, so make it count.

When I filed our application online, it said there is now a two-month backlog. So if that's true, we'd have five months to get the converters.
--GrannyGeek
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nightflier

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Re: Digital TVs
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2008, 05:51:57 am »

Regarding my antenna: Yes, I bought one recommended by antennaweb.org. The signal seems sensitive to orientation. To get all the local stations I would have needed a motorized one that could rotate according to which channel I wanted to watch. That would be quite a spectacle if I was channel surfing! Also tried an expensive powered "omnidirectional" one without much more luck.

Even when I get a good signal, I am disappointed with digital TV. Only some shows are full HD, while much of the programming is low resolution with washed out colors and out of sync sound. The aspect ratio jumps back and forth between 16:9 and 4:3, keeping the display busy trying to adapt. The sound also keeps changing between surround sound and stereo. Not a very consistent experience.

To be honest, me wanting a big HD display with surround sound had little to do with watching TV. My home theater is for watching DVD movies. I stay a year or so behind so I can Netflix the shows I like and enjoy them without commercials. I have also re-discovered old favorites. Watching all 11 seasons of M.A.S.H. from the beginning to end was great. Now I'm half way through Seinfeld, so I'm still getting good use out of my investment.  ;D
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Triarius Fidelis

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Re: Digital TVs
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2008, 12:08:09 pm »

I wonder if the computer animated scenes in Futurama would give me nasty vertigo.

I remember having that happen to me at an 'iMax' theater when I was a kid. That's the only time I ever experienced vertigo and in retrospect it was really, really cool.
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Formerly known as "Epic Fail Guy" and "Döden" in recent months