Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Conversion to DTV

Tonight is the early switch to DTV from analog. Most of the stations here in are changing over now. I went to the coupon website the very day they ran out of funds. So I put my name on a waiting list. I only asked for one coupon as I only need one in Montana. There were many people who got the coupons and didn't use them before they expired. So last week I received my coupon, actually like a gift card, and I went to the store and used it to buy a converter. They only had one converter left at the store where I went.

Over the weekend I listened to a piece on NPR about a woman who started using one of these converters somewhere in Arizona if I think it was. She reported that it worked only when the signal was strong and often pixelated out. So she said she pretty much stopped watching TV. The story went on to report that the testing they did was based on an outdoor antenna 30 feet up in the air, like on a rooftop. What I came away with from that report was that you really need a good antenna and a strong signal for digital over the airwaves to work well. The nice thing about analog was that if the signal was weak the picture might be fuzzy but you could still see what was going on. It's often like that in remote places. I remember watching the World Series one time on a little black and white TV in the bunkhouse of a ranch way out in the middle of Montana miles from the nearest town. The picture was fuzzy and the sound scratchy but we could tell what was going on and that was all that mattered. It sounds to me like rabbit ears inside a house may not work unless there is a very strong signal.

So tomorrow I'm going to hook up my little TV with its little indoor antenna and see what happens. Right now I'm getting all three networks and one public station analog. One network, CBS is weak. The real test will be in Montana when I go to the cabin.

Morning of the 18th: The digital converter is working well with the indoor antenna. The channel that had been weak analog is smaller on the screen for some reason, but the rest of the channels are fine and there are more of them actually incuding Universal Sports. (the ski racing channel) So that's a pleasant development. :)


Diane said...

For some reason I signed up for my coupon after you did and I received mine about a month ago. I still need to pick up a converter even though I don't watch T.V. I think my coupon is good until the end of March.

That's cool you can get Universal Sports! :)

don said...

If I were you, I'd get right down and get a converter with that coupon before you forget like so many people did. Or loose it or something. A converter using it will only cost a few bucks and it's totally worth it.

I'm impressed with the number of channels and the quality. It's as good as some basic cable I've seen. Having Universal Sports on it is a total bonus, but too good to last I fear. There will soon be a public outcry and it will be replaced with cage fighting or home shopping, or a reality show about people living in a building... Or a loud guy selling a rag that you can clean soda out of the carpet with...

But right now if it only had HBO I'd think about giving up cable.