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Is the US Ready For the Switch To DTV? 423

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-so,-can-the-commercials-stop? dept.
tonsofpcs writes "On Monday, September 8, Wilmington, NC will be the first television market (#135) to make the switch to DTV by shutting off their analog transmitters. This forum will be posting updates throughout the coming months to keep everyone updated on how the transition works so that we are all prepared come February 17, 2009. So far, it seems Wilmington will still be going ahead as planned, despite Tropical Storm Hanna's proximity."
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Is the US Ready For the Switch To DTV?

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  • I have a feeling (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bigtallmofo (695287) * on Sunday September 07, 2008 @08:29AM (#24909215)
    Something tells me that after several delays and numerous announcements that the people that are unaware of the switch to digital TV probably wouldn't be too upset about missing out on TV for a few days while they track down an analog->digital converter.
    • Re:I have a feeling (Score:5, Interesting)

      by electrictroy (912290) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @09:33AM (#24909705)

      Over-the-air DTV works terribly. First off, with analog, I could point my antenna in just about any direction and get SOME kind of fuzzy picture that was watchable. In other words, analog was easier to tune in,

      With digital the tuning is much more difficult. I have to align the antenna perfectly along the 55th meridian, check the stars, adjust the horizontal azimuth, and get down on my knees and pray the signal is strong enough to not freeze the video (extremely annoying). And if there's a Tropical Storm blowing by? Forget it. The rain attenuates and destroys the signal. Yesterday I was unable to get my normal programming due to Hanna's presence... just a bunch of pixelated images instead of clear video.

      DTV also provides fewer stations than analog.

      In the Lancaster PA region analog reception provides these stations: 2,3,6,8,10,11,12,13,15,17,21,27,29,33,35,43,45,48,49,51,57,61,65,69 from various sources like my hometown, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Switching over to my DTV tuner trims that number down to just a few: 8, 15, 43, 49, 57, 61. Twenty-four downto just six.

      Pathetic.

      The FCC's discontinuation of analog in favor of digital broadcasting is yet another government-sponsored frakup. Good thing I've learned how to stream TV shows off the net. Thanks to DTV, I no longer can watch ABC or CBS stations. Channels 21 and 27 have disappeared off my DTV dial! What a brilliant job Mr. FCC Engineer. I now have LESS choices to watch, not more. /steps off soapbox

      • Re:I have a feeling (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @09:46AM (#24909793) Homepage Journal

        I'm not sure about the US but as I understand it in the UK many digital transmissions are currently transmitted at reduced power to avoid screwing with analogue reception. Once analogue is switched off digital reception should get a lot better.

        • Re:I have a feeling (Score:5, Informative)

          by tonsofpcs (687961) <slashback.tonsofpcs@com> on Sunday September 07, 2008 @10:15AM (#24910005) Homepage Journal
          The US has similar restrictions, however even after the changeover is complete, many stations will still be operating at 1/10 of their original power (or less). You can find information on specific station licenses via FCC's TV Query [fcc.gov]
          • Re:I have a feeling (Score:4, Informative)

            by pottymouth (61296) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @12:56PM (#24911387)

            Absolutely correct. This has been sold to broadcasters as a way to save money while transmitting the same content. They can cut power, theoretically, save a ton of money and still get the same advertising revenue.

            Unfortunately, as the previous posting observed, the public will pay the price in quality and quantity of stations available to their antenna.

          • Re:I have a feeling (Score:4, Interesting)

            by nsayer (86181) * <(nsayer) (at) (kfu.com)> on Monday September 08, 2008 @12:45AM (#24916347) Homepage

            Wrong. Power for NTSC transmissions are measured as peak power. The sync pulses are at the peak, and the average power is much, much lower.

            ATSC transmission power levels are measured as average power, which due to the digital nature of the signal is much, much closer to the peak power level anyway.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jonfr (888673)

          This was a problem in Iceland, when they did first start broadcasting in digital. The idiots at 365 Media (that runs most of the private tv stations in Iceland) did turn the digital transmission to 100% when it first started. The end result was that the digital signal did create snow and other issues with the remaining analog signals on 2500Mhz band that they are using and also normal uhf analog broadcasts.

          In the end they did drop the signal strength down enough so it did not create issues with the analog

        • Re:I have a feeling (Score:4, Informative)

          by electrictroy (912290) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @01:00PM (#24911429)

          According to the FCC, 99% of stations are already at their full digital power limits. Only a few will be increasing their power in March 2009.

          One major change is that most stations will be moving from UHF to VHF, and VHF is less prone to breakup. For example my local WGAL is moving from 58 to 8, which should stabilize the image.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by moosesocks (264553)

          Yeah. Seriously. I live 40 miles from New York City, and can barely get the four major broadcast networks (Back when it was around, UPN used to come in fine, which was a sort of cruel irony)

          I just got back from spending a few months just outside of Dundee in Scotland (read: middle of nowhere, especially by American standards). We could pick up a couple dozen OTA channels, with considerably better quality than I get with digital cable. It just works.

          The US digital adoption is clearly being manipulated by

        • Re:I have a feeling (Score:4, Interesting)

          by AmberBlackCat (829689) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @02:29PM (#24912211)
          I suspect what will happen is, somebody will figure it costs more to broadcast a stronger signal, everybody has been getting by with the weak signal, plus the TV viewers have no choice now, so it would make better business sense to keep the weaker signal.
      • Re:I have a feeling (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 07, 2008 @09:52AM (#24909839)

        DTV also provides fewer stations than analog.

        Get a different tuner/antenna.

        My experience was quite the opposite. Using my original crappy bunny ears, I was able to receive around 5 channels in analog. Switching to digital brought these fuzzy/static channels to full 1080i. Add in a mid-sized powered antenna, pointed the right way and that number goes up to 32 (counting the spanish and shopping channels).

        From the suburbs west of Boston I get: Boston, Providence and Manchester. All in far better quality than analog could have possibly provided.

        If you want to blame the FCC for something, blame them for selecting ATSC. Why on earth they chose MPEG2 when everyone else gets MPEG4 or H.264 is anyone's guess (greed from patent holders maybe?).

        • >>>Get a different tuner/antenna.

          Lame response. I've already have a CM4228 - best antenna you can buy. Plus I've tried five different brands: Hisense, DTVpal, Zatwell, Zenith, and Channel Master. They all operate roughly the same receiving only 5 or 6 digital stations. That's a far cry from my usual 24 analog. The problem is the DIGITAL TRANSMITTER DESIGN, not the receiving end.

          >>>I was able to receive around 5 channels in analog.

          I don't believe you; or more accurately, I don't think

        • Re:I have a feeling (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Dogtanian (588974) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @11:34AM (#24910613) Homepage

          If you want to blame the FCC for something, blame them for selecting ATSC. Why on earth they chose MPEG2 when everyone else gets MPEG4 or H.264 is anyone's guess

          Who's "everyone else"? Other countries? The current UK digital terrestrial TV system, DVB-T, uses MPEG2.

          Though I should make clear that DVB-T is only used for standard res transmissions (*) and has been in proper use here since the late 1990s, so it at least has a good excuse for being based on 1990s tech(!). Even though we're only just *now* starting to switch off analogue in favour of this already dated system!

          Also, unlike the US where (AFAIK) you're going straight to a single terrestrial digital standard that supports hi-res transmissions which can still be shown by standard-res boxes (albeit at reduced resolution), the UK/European DVB-T boxes won't handle hi-res. So we're getting another new standard for that which probably *will* use the more modern and efficient H.264.

          And to be honest, I'd have thought MPEG-2 would be horribly bandwidth-hungry for hi-def and a pointless choice given that more advanced codecs are now available and the existing boxes wouldn't support it either way (even if the original MPEG-2 DVB-T standard would have).

          Anyway, are your FCC/ATSC *really* using MPEG-2 for hi-def? If that's true, it makes no sense at all.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by TheSync (5291)

            Anyway, are your FCC/ATSC *really* using MPEG-2 for hi-def? If that's true, it makes no sense at all.

            When the US DTV transition was planned, there was no H.264...

            The truth is that a $20,000 broadcast HD MPEG-2 encoder does a pretty good job at 18 Mbps. Real-time H.264 HD encoders that could do the same thing have only been in serious commercial production for a year (I've seen them try and fail for years, but now we seem to have enough CPU to make them operate stable and well).

            It is my impression that most

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by evilviper (135110)

            Though I should make clear that DVB-T is only used for standard res transmissions (*) and has been in proper use here since the late 1990s, so it at least has a good excuse for being based on 1990s tech(!). Even though we're only just *now* starting to switch off analogue in favour of this already dated system!

            Although referring to the UK (and explaining why your system isn't as good) you've just described the US DTV switchover precisely...

            Digital transmissions (in highdef, no less) in the US have been goin

        • MPEG2 works for everyone.

          I don't have a computer capable of doing h.264 at 1080i/720p. ATSC works for everyone.

          (any reccomendations for antennas, by the way?)

      • by HisMother (413313)
        Ummm, yeah. First, the signal won't be cranked up to full power until the transition. Second, mebbe all them stations aren't transmitting digital yet. I'm not a digital polyanna or anything, but I think your complaining is premature.
        • I wish you were right, but unfortunately you're wrong on both counts. Every analog station in my area is also simulcasting digital signals, and they are all operating at their full licensed power.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by quetwo (1203948)

            In most areas, stations are using their combined analog and digital power ratings to report to the FCC. In Michigan, analog stations are reducing their power levels this month to what digital was, and digital is getting more power. When the analog is switched off, digital will be at 100%.

            One thing to note too, UHF stations (which what all television will be living in after the transition) require more power than VHF (usually by a magnitude of 20x - 30x) because of the frequency difference (higher frequenc

      • by cashman73 (855518)
        Over on the other side of the state, in Pittsburgh, the mountains provide all sorts of issues. It appears that the CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates all broadcast from the northwestern suburbs, while ABC broadcasts from the east, near Monroeville, and PBS is in Oakland. So, living in Oakland (near Pitt's campus), on the southeastern side of a large hill, and on the southeastern corner of a large apartment building, I can't get NBC, Fox, or CBS at all (although Fox does come up in one of my rooms fairly well, but
        • >>>Over on the other side of the state, in Pittsburgh, the mountains provide all sorts of issues.

          Yeah I feel really sorry for my friends who live in western Pennsylvania. For example I know a guy who lives in Milroy PA (just outside Penn State University), and he already has lousy analog reception of only 3 channels, but at least he has the major networks. When he tried a DTV tuner, he got a DVD-quality image of a blank screen. (rolls eyes). Brilliant.

          >>>can't get NBC, Fox, CW or CBS

      • by mariushm (1022195)

        It's the TV stations' fault for not giving plenty of power to the transmitters. They're going cheap and giving just enough electricity to the antennas.

      • by jabithew (1340853) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @10:04AM (#24909925)

        My experience with digital TV in the UK is going from analogue at 4.5 channels (5 was not available in about half the places I went) to digital with far too many to count. The signal strength, picture and sound quality went through the roof with the transition too. Plus, no messing around with tuning at all, it just pulls channels, names and schedules out of the ether.

        If your experience is typical, the FCC has managed a frak-up of truly epic proportions.

        Of course, with all the new channels there's still nothing on worth watching, but that's a problem with the culture, not the technology.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hedwards (940851)

          That's largely my experience. I don't get so many channels that I can't count with digital,but I definitely get all the broadcast channels I was plus a few others which weren't close enough to be visible.

          And all of those are in better quality than what they were when I had comcast delivering the video. Not quite a good as DirecTV, but quite a bit better than either comcast or the older over the air programming.

          I don't think that when I was growing up my parents would have gotten cable if we could have gotte

      • It's in the American public's best interest to let corporations buy up the spectrum in order to sell services to us. *cough*

      • by frieko (855745)
        I've had the exact opposite experience. I got six analog channels from one city and I get 16 digital ones from three cities. I'm about 40 miles from the closest tower. The point being that yes, it did screw over a lot of people but probably a small fraction in the grand scheme of things. Also, digital signals interfere with the analog ones, so you may see a big boost in power come January.

        There's a few things you may want to check with your setup. First, you need a 'recent' converter box. The chipsets im
        • >>>I was able to cut down most of my giant VHF antenna and raise the remaining tiny UHF part up another 10 feet. ...

          That was rather foolish.

          Some of your stations are moving from UHF to VHF in February, and now you won't have a VHF antenna to receive them! Ooops. (Also a bit of advice: remove the amplifier; they may disrupt the digital signal according to an NPR study.)

      • While I can't speak to your situation, overall, I have found over-the-air DTV to be a vast improvement over analog. This is in the San Jose area. The existing analog broadcasts are hopeless due to massive multipath problems (same with FM radio). DTV, including HD, is pretty bulletproof. You have to turn the antenna for a few stations but that's no different than what was going on with analog. Once you get it, it's perfect.

        In your particular case, it doesn't seem to work v

      • by DrBuzzo (913503)
        What kind of antenna do you have? If you can get the analog channels then it means you are within the area to receive the digital channels because you have line-of-site to the transmitter. However, it sounds like the signal is just so weak that it is not able to be picked up properly with your digital tuner.

        Do you have just rabbit ears? If so you really can't expect much from that. You need at least descent omni antenna, preferably outdoors, but if you can't do that then just a good antenna mounted
      • I have no personal experience with them but the new smart antennas are intended to relieve the problems with aiming the antenna and the associated reception problems with a marginal DTV signal. They are able to to be electronically steered to maximize the reception for each station. They require a tuner with a smart antenna port to handle the control signals. From the looks of them I'm guessing they are UHF only so they may not work well for those stations remaining on VHF after the switchover.

      • I've heard about those build-your-own antennas, the kind made out of coathangers... Do those even work? From what I hear they take out a lot of the problems you get with the big yagi-style ones.

        And yeah not many DTV stations... But around here I'm sure there's even less analogue stations. At least with DTV it's often done in 720p/1080i + 7.1, or at 480p/5.1 at the worst. I don't have a 7.1/5.1 set but it's nice to see it there if/when I do get one...

        It's almost better than my cable package, if it wasn't for

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LordVader717 (888547)

        Obviously YMMV, but generally and for most people, DTV provides better quality reception and more channels. Of course it depends on the transmitter you're tuned to, and antenna you're receiving with and there can be difficulties particularly when switching the broadcast systems like now. But this happened all the time with analog aswell, with channels going lost and having to re-tune your TV.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by eples (239989)
        Some DTV boxes are better (much) than others, as are various antennas.

        I realize you weren't asking for advice, but the Samsung H260F just might dramatically improve your viewing experience.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by itsdapead (734413)

      Something tells me that after several delays and numerous announcements that the people that are unaware of the switch to digital TV probably wouldn't be too upset about missing out on TV for a few days while they track down an analog->digital converter.

      Greetings, visitor - you picked a windy day to visit our strange planet.

      Seriously, some people will start screaming when the glass nipple is wrenched from their lips, and "didn't you see all the announcements?" just ain't gonna cut it.

      The UK is just embarking on the same experiment and its pretty clear that a lot of people (a) rank this as equivalent to having their water or electricity cut off, (b) are "confused" by the announcements and expect the man from the gubment to turn up and fix it for them and

    • A simple rig. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LordVader717 (888547)

      Any Slashdotter could do this

      1. Get Digital receivers to decode only the channels you want them to watch.
      2. Hook up the outputs to some UHF modulators.
      3. Output the signals to your existing Television cabels.
      4. Re-tune the TV's

      Could be done for a few hundred dollars at most.

  • I doubt most people are even going to notice the switch over to digital. Between cable and satellite providers relatively few are going to see the need for a digital-analog converter. On another note... Wilmington just wanted to put a simple "We did it first so we're 'technologically advanced'" stamp on a tourist brochure. Whatever and good luck to 'em (I guess).

    • Between cable and satellite providers relatively few are going to see the need for a digital-analog converter.

      There are some channels that one can get on digital broadcast but not on analog cable, such as the PBS subchannels. The ATSC tuner box also costs much less ($20 after coupon) than the first three years of the upgrade from analog cable to digital cable ($359.64) or the upgrade from satellite TV without local networks to satellite TV with local networks.

  • According to the LA Times [latimes.com], the conversion might be postponed due to the storm.
  • by bigtallmofo (695287) * on Sunday September 07, 2008 @09:22AM (#24909623)
    How hard would it be to broadcast on all common channels in the area a fixed pattern that says something along the lines of, "TV broadcasts using your current equipment are no longer available. Please conatct... blah blah blah".

    Seems that would be better than just turning it off. Maybe just run it for a week or so.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by maxume (22995)

      They have been broadcasting notices here for the past, oh, I don't know, several months.

    • by HairyCanary (688865) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @11:34AM (#24910617)

      I can't speak for other markets, but here in Portland at least one station recently ran a prime time demonstration. They said "Right now we are going to turn off the analog transmitter for 60 seconds. You will know if you are affected if your picture goes away."

      That's pretty smart IMO, and they should start doing that more often, perhaps every evening as we get closer to the switch, maybe even several times a day.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by arkane1234 (457605)

        I can't speak for other markets, but here in Portland at least one station recently ran a prime time demonstration. They said "Right now we are going to turn off the analog transmitter for 60 seconds. You will know if you are affected if your picture goes away."

        That'd be an awesome pre-recorded commercial. Have william Shatner talking about episodes of Star Trek back in the 60's when talk about how we're stepping into the next generation, with Patrick Stewart stepping out from the side, speaking of the new

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by BraksDad (963908)

      I think the digital signals use the same bandwidth segment as the old analog signal.

      Can someone confirm this?

      If this is true they cannot have them both on at the same time. Part of the benefit is the digital takes up less room than analog so they free up some space between channels with the digital.

  • Prisons not ready (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dpbsmith (263124) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @09:40AM (#24909745) Homepage

    Numerous stories [google.com] mention that prisons are not ready for digital television, and prison administrators are worried.

    Generally, inmates pay for their own television sets and (for some reason that escapes me) are not eligible for the $40 coupons.

    Prison administrators say [tennessean.com]"the tube does more than fill year after year of idle hours. It provides a sense of normalcy and is a bargaining chip that encourages good behavior... At Indiana's Wabash Valley super-maximum security prison [a psychiatrist said], far fewer behavior problems were reported among inmates in isolation after they were given small TVs. 'You don't want to be managing prisoners who have nothing to lose,' Kupers."

    I expect the test will show that, in fact, prison inmates represent only one example of what will prove to be a large population of forgotten Americans... the people who don't answer telephone surveys because they don't have telephones, the people who don't shop at Best Buy because they don't have cars and the nearest Best Buy can't be reached by public transportation, etc.

    I will grant that the amount of publicity being given to the DTV switchover on our local TV stations is so large... at least during the times of day we watch and on the channels we watch... that it's hard to imagine people not knowing about it, but there is always that twenty percent of the population who can't name the President.

    Indeed, I'm astonished at the poster who asks "Will they broadcast a notice?" since our local stations have been doing that continuously since February. Either his are not or he, like those twenty per cent I'm talking about, didn't notice.

  • recession (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gbh1935 (987266) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @09:42AM (#24909761)
    House in foreclosure CHECK Credit Cards past due CHECK Car Repossessed CHECK TV ready for Digital....not a priority
  • The average age of TV viewers was recently reported as 55 years old. That means the average television audience is 10 years older than the demographic that advertisers pay top dollar to reach, 18-45. That higher average age also means that most of those watching are the least likely to be paying attention to esoteric issues like format changes. Many of them will be quite upset when their TV stops working, especially with a 30% increase in the price of groceries and $4/gallon gas happening at the same time

  • It occurs to me that if there are "forgotten" segments of the population (e.g. prisoners) who've escaped official notice in the preparation for the switch, and haven't been reached by the numerous public announcements, or can't or don't know how to prepare for it... ...how is the FCC going to find out whether they've been affected?

    The same factors that have caused them to be overlooked before the test may cause them to be overlooked in evaluating the results of the test.

    The people who have a phone and know

  • If ready means that everyone has at least one digital receiver (built-in or external) then no. People tend to delay non essential purchases these days, and a digital receiver won't be essential until the analog shutdown actually takes place.

    So just do it already, people will run to get get the decoders the next day.
  • Disaster Radios (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spoonist (32012) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @11:22AM (#24910519) Journal
    One problem I have with the switch to DTV is that there are a plethora of disaster radios out there that have analog TV coverage. In an emergency, I can scan AM, FM, and TV stations for what's going on. That gives me a lot of good options. Now my hand-cranked emergency radio has a band that can no longer be used: analog TV. That's a bummer in my book.
  • Besides... Around here there are only about five different channels to be found using an analog antenna.

  • during hurricanes as we are so prone to getting, we rely on our portable televisions to watch information about the storm when we lose power. Those portable televisions are going to be useless. As a matter of public safety, we need portable televisions that can receive the digital broadcast, but so far, none have reached the market.

    What will I do to protect my family if I have no way of getting public safety information? Radio is one way, but it doesn't convey the same level of information as does televi

  • by ghostis (165022) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @12:21PM (#24911021) Homepage

    I live in a valley...

    next to an HD-only transmitter.

    Needless to say, analog *anything* has been an issue. Last spring, sensing there may a be rush later, I got our two coupons from Uncle Sam, and cashed 'em in. A few points on my experience:

    o Direction and gain are definitely more of an issue. Since we barely got anything analog clearly on bunny ear/loop, we got next to nothing with digital.

    o With digital, it's all or nothing. Either you have clear signal, maybe with some artifacts, or you have black screen.

    o *The* most annoying thing is that sounds cuts first.

    o So, I did what any self-respecting tinkerer would do. I build a grey-hoverman antenna out of foam board, packing tape, tin foil, and picture hanging wire - all from from Walgreens (U.S. pharmacy) :-D. http://www.digitalhome.ca/ota/superantenna/ [digitalhome.ca]

    o Obviously, with such rarefied materials I have a less-than-precise design - that works... really well.

    o The GH antenna is highly directional. Since digital is crystal-clear, we put up with adjusting the thing in the bay window.

    o We get 9-12 clear channels now, instead of 4-5 distorted ones.

    o It's best to put it in an attic, or outside. Be sure to ground it, etc. The higher, the better - generally.

    o Note that there are two ranges for VHF DTV, high channels and low channels. The Grey-Hoverman seems to do well with UHF DTV and high VHF. Most DTV seems to be UHF.

    o Only some DTV is HD. Stations were given sub-channels. Some use only the main channel and switch back and forth between HD. Others put SD on one and HD on the other. Others use all for HD, with different content. The public television stations, strangely enough, seem to be making the best use of the sub-channels.

    o The other prominent build-able design is called a Yagi. It consists of connected bow-ties, rather than zig-zag elements. The Yagi design is nice, because its gain is roughly even across UHF. The Grey-Hoverman seems to have better gain than the Yagi on some ranges, but cuts out in others. Check the frequencies of your local stations and compare them to the two antennas' gain charts before deciding.

    o Why the range of channels for me? Well, in a valley the signal has echoes. Some echoes are stronger than others. Sometimes the amp makes the two echoes the same strength. In that case the converter box cannot lock in. Thus, if your location is subject to echoes (hills, valley, etc.), design your wiring to allow the easy removal of your amplifier.

    o Also, atmospheric conditions seem to have an effect. On clear dry days we don't do so well; on wet or humid days, I think we could get New York City, if we wanted (we're in southern N.E.).

    o Finally, going digital with a converter has one interesting benefit for you OSS fans. Since the Neuros OSD is still SD, converted DTV works nicely with it. I don't have one yet, but they are now on Amazon, and I am strongly considering getting one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by evilviper (135110)

      The other prominent build-able design is called a Yagi.

      It's actually a "Yagi/Corner-Reflector".

      It consists of connected bow-ties, rather than zig-zag elements.

      "Bowtie" refers to a specific type of antenna, a "multi-bay" unit... an antenna that is most definitely NOT a yagi. In fact a multi-bay bowtie antenna resembles a Grey-Hovermann much more than a Yagi/Corner-Reflector.

      Yagi/Corner-Reflector: http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?PROD=MXU59 [solidsignal.com]
      Multi-bay/Bowtie: http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display [solidsignal.com]

  • by mianne (965568) on Sunday September 07, 2008 @12:58PM (#24911405)
    Not to sound overly cynical about the whole issue, but I do some contract work for a big box retailer. Folks come in all the time seeking the $50 digital to analog converter boxes. Yet the individual stores typically only receive about a eight units a week and sell out within a few hours! Add to that, the overly complicated process of requesting $40 coupon/rebate certificates to defray most of the cost. Then let's not forget that the typical person seeking these boxes does not read Slashdot, is on a fixed income, and uses 'DTV' and 'HDTV' interchangeably, not really understanding the definition of either. So why such little supply for such high demand? Why the bureaucracy? Why the readily confused acronyms? Because the push to DTV allows corporate interests to make use of the prime spectrum currently allocated for analog broadcasts while the retailers get taxpayer funded advertising that essentially tells a gullible public that the path of least resistance is to go out and buy a new LCD or plasma television - The stores just happen to have plenty of them, and gee aren't they pretty! As far as corporate/government corruption is concerned, this is small potatoes compared to many examples seen here on pollution, war profiteering, and eroding civil liberties. However, the callousness I've observed in the push to sell you a bigscreen television--err I mean a converter box, if you really insist; is really going to hit hard in Middle America. I'm wondering if while mobs of social rights activists and anti-war protesters have had minimal effects on Washington, what will happen when a few million pensioners find themselves without access to television?
  • Minimal effect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geek2k5 (882748) on Monday September 08, 2008 @11:26AM (#24920357)

    It doesn't really affect me because I haven't watched TV on a regular basis for a couple of decades. If there is a show I want to watch, I wait for it to come out in DVD. If I want current news, I check the web or read a newspaper. If there is an emergency that requires extremely current information, I listen to the radio.

    I do pity those people who rely upon broadcast TV for their entertainment and/or information. But that IS a life style choice that they make and this change has been talked about for quite a few years not.

    They'll adjust. I do suspect that there will be a lot of calls to the local TV stations from people that never listen to public service ads warning of the changes. (I wonder how many of these calls will be from channel flippers that never listen to commercials or public service ads?)

My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income. -- Errol Flynn Any man who has $10,000 left when he dies is a failure. -- Errol Flynn

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