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Complaints Pour In After Digital TV Test 537

djupedal writes "'Even if all goes smoothly, next February's digital television shift is likely to generate hundreds of thousands of complaints from television viewers around the country. A major problem during a test run in Wilmington, N.C., was the inability of over-the-air viewers to receive new digital signals, according to figures collected after the test.'"
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Complaints Pour In After Digital TV Test

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  • Hmmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by suso ( 153703 ) * on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:38AM (#25136871) Homepage Journal

    If there is anything that is likely to end the world, it might be when all the country folk lose their TV just long enough for their addiction to take over and........

    I personally will be sitting outside Best Buy to watch the festivities begin in Feb.

    • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Recovering Hater ( 833107 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:41AM (#25136931)
      Yes, let the festivities begin I say. I hope the masses purchase the hell out of some new tv's so that prices fall a bit. I want a new flat screen for cheaper than I can get one now. And yes, I am cheap.
      • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by suso ( 153703 ) * on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:50AM (#25137135) Homepage Journal

        Heh, but that won't happen. Supply and demand will kick in and I think we'll all see just how many people there are in the world. I imagine supply will be about 1/2 to 1/4 what the demand will be, so prices will go up.

        What I'm really wondering is, in the interest in quality and features, is it better to buy a new TV now, during the rush or after it. If companies suddenly do better, they may have more money for R&D and make better products afterwards. Then again, companies may strain to get products out and get cheap on quality.

        • Re:Hmmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

          by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:07PM (#25137453) Journal

          After. TVs improve a lot like computers do, now, and five or six months, while not an eternity, is still quite long.

          But you can *always* play that game. If you want a TV now get one now (if you can afford it). OTA digital has already started broadcast in most markets, the picture is much better, you'll probably get more channels, and a few of them will be HD, even.

          • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Informative)

            by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:17PM (#25137627)

            The problem I have with OTA digital is signal strength (I'm between 12 and 20 miles from the various local stations as the bird flys). Analog was watchable in my house with indoor rabbit ears. It didn't look good (fuzzy and ghosting and whatnot), but the image was continuous and comprehendable. Digital OTA though on some pretty good indoor antennas stutters for me. Some stations it's minor (a "blip" every now and then), and some I'll get an image for 2 seconds and then a freeze for 5 seconds before the cycles repeats. Don't get me wrong the picture is GREAT, but I'm afraid that a lot of "country people" who were making do with indoor antenna are going to have to transition to outdoor antenna to keep watching.

            Could also be the tuner I'm using too though. My parents live less than 2 miles from and they get far less disturbance with a $10 antenna I bought them from Big Lots. It's still there, but not quite as bad on as on my TV. I'm almost thinking of grabbing one of those converter boxes with the free coupon and seeing it it's tuner (piped to component inputs) works any better for me.

            Either way I've got my local stations through DirecTV so it's not incredibly important, but those feeds are not HD so I still want the OTA to work too :).

            • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Amazing Quantum Man ( 458715 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:22PM (#25137721) Homepage

              Exactly. Analog degrades "gracefully", while digital is pretty much all or nothing.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                I need an outdoor antenna the size of a 747 to get analog signals as it is, and even so the picture is none too good. What kind of antenna will I need to get a barely viewable digital signal??

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by maxume ( 22995 )

              Don't sweat it too much until after the transition, the channels are all going to switch around (and I think go to higher power). TV Fool can give you some idea of the pre and post signal levels:


    • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Funny)

      by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:44AM (#25137009)

      I personally will be sitting outside Best Buy to watch the festivities begin in Feb.

      See that is what is wrong with America. No entrepreneurial ambition. I'll be outside BestBuy next to you, selling pitchforks and torches.

    • Wouldn't the laws of supply & demand dictate that this would cause the prices to go up? It's not like they are magically going to manufacture 3 times as many TVs...more people want to buy the same number of TVs, so prices would go up.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lostlander ( 1219708 )
        The prices will go up during the demand spike and drop significantly after the spike due to over manufacturing.
    • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {}> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:18PM (#25137657) Homepage

      The lines outside the Best Buy won't be bad until everyone realizes that Best Buy carries nothing that will help them.

      Lowes and Home Depot are the only major brick and mortar chains that I have seen which carry decent TV reception (antenna and preamp) equipment. The antennas sold by Best Buy, CC, and such are crappy little antennas which claim to have all this preamplification that will pull in lots of signals.

      Yeah, they have preamps, but garbage in garbage out. The dominating factor in a reception system's noise figure is going to be the antenna first, and THEN the preamp.

      My parents are basically screwed when the changeover occurs unless they sign up for cable. They've got one of the largest V/U combo antennas available and a good Channel Master preamp, but still can't get reliable NYC HD reception thanks to the local terrain. Their analog reception isn't too hot, but it is watchable. Their digital reception for most channels is nil.

      • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Informative)

        by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <chyeld AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @01:10PM (#25138569)

        They probably aren't as screwed as you think if their analog is watchable. The stations currently are mostly broadcasting digital at a tenth of the power they are licensed for to avoid interfering with the analog signals. Once the switchover occurs, they are suppose to go up to 100%. If you can pull in a watchable analog signal, then in theory you should be able to get the digital equivalent once that happens.

        • Re:Hmmmm (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @01:25PM (#25138839) Homepage

          Keep in mind, though, most of the stations are going to be in the UHF space. Different propagation rules, coupled with the need for adequate antennas (Most of the small off the shelf antennas won't cut it even with the increased allowed power available...), means you're going to have problems.

          Most of the indoor antennas being sold right at the moment as "HDTV Ready" are garbage for DTV/HDTV. Honest.

  • Mmhmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:38AM (#25136881)

    A major problem during a test run in Wilmington, N.C., was the inability of over-the-air viewers to receive new digital signals

    Yeah, that is kind of a major problem.

    • Re:Mmhmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by eggoeater ( 704775 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:51AM (#25137153) Journal

      The largest number of calls to the FCC from Wilmington were from viewers of the NBC affiliate, WECT-TV. That station's analog broadcast covers far more ground than its digital signal, meaning some viewers could watch that channel before the switchover but not afterward. A total of 553 complaints were attributed to that issue.

      So it wasn't a problem with the receivers or the tvs, it was the stupid TV station not putting out enough juice.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MightyYar ( 622222 )

        Yeah, I read that and sort of went "well, duh". Talk about a non-issue.

        Personally, I have one of those gub'ment subsidized boxes on my old analog TV and I've never had this many channels or this clear a picture - but I'm in the city.

      • Re:Mmhmm (Score:5, Interesting)

        by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:07PM (#25137451) Homepage

        Indeed. And this has been a problem since cable-TV went main-stream. I remember when cable was new and few people had it. And the more it grew, the poorer over-the-air signal quality became.

        You will find the same sort of problem with radio stations as well. They adjust the power output based on the time of day... or hasn't anyone noticed? The power is always boosted during peak driving times and lowered during all other times. In the case of over-the-air television, digital or otherwise, they aren't going to pay for the power unless there is money in it.

        • Re:Mmhmm (Score:5, Informative)

          by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {}> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:34PM (#25137957) Homepage

          I've never noticed power differences for FM stations based on time of day, and I don't think such a thing would even be legal for them. If you're in a fringe area, you might be observing propagation differences that APPEAR to be transmit power adjustments but are only changes in atmospheric phenomena (mainly tropospheric ducting at VHF, which is heavily temperature dependent).

          Power adjustments for AM based on time of day are a legal requirement due to changes in ionospheric propagation phenomenon depending on night vs. day.

          The only consistent degradation of broadcast signals I have seen is when the majority of the primary TV broadcast transmitters for the New York City market were destroyed on 9/11/2001.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Detritus ( 11846 )
          Where do people get these weird ideas? Other than AM stations, which may have licenses that specify different power levels for daytime and nighttime, radio stations broadcast at their authorized power level. They don't vary the transmitter power over the course of a day. If they want to make a permanent change to their antenna or transmitter, they must get the FCC's permission. That includes broadcasting at less power than authorized.
  • by Vandil X ( 636030 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:40AM (#25136919)
    I'm sure this was the intended effect posited in a board room somewhere.

    The "over the air" hold outs will see how bad life without cable or satellite and will have no choice but to buy a subscription TV service or else they cannot watch Dancing with the Stars anymore.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Or, you know, they'll buy a $50 converter box, which may or may not be subsidized depending on whether they're willing to enter the relevant paperwork.
      • by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:49AM (#25137095)
        A converter box won't do any good for the houses that do not receive a strong enough digital signal. RTFA
        • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:57AM (#25137275) Homepage Journal

          Based upon my own experience, I suspect "they're doing it wrong" is the right answer here. If you're getting digital signals too weak to be usable, the chances are your analog signals are no better. Yes, digital has a fairly hard floor, but analog has a floor too. I spent several years with rabbit ear antennas and various amplifiers, and found that my ability to receive a watchable signal, as opposed to one where the screen would jump up and down and the audio would fade in and out of white noise, to be dependent on a variety of factors and a game of chance.

          All that's happening is that people are getting their box throwing its hands up and saying "This isn't watchable" when they'd like to make the same decision themselves, even though - actually - for the equivalent analog signal, they would actually be saying "This isn't watchable" anyway. The "No lock" message is replacing a dancing screen and white-noise infested audio channel. Because the decision is being made for them, they're believing they've been deprived of something.

          You fix both issues - poor analog reception, poor digital reception - the same way. You get a better antenna. You get one on the roof if possible.

          Our household's switch to digital meant we immediately started receiving high quality signals from TV stations OTA with an unamplified indoor antenna that were unwatchable on analog with an amplified unit. It actually was so good that we saw a benefit in going the whole way and installing a roof-top antenna and making OTA work, whereas we'd previously just stuck with cable and satellite feeds of the same channels.

          • by jguthrie ( 57467 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:10PM (#25137497)
            The problem with digital is that whether or not you see anything is a binary condition. Either you get perfect signals, or you get nothing. With analog, you have the choice of doing rabbit ears and putting up with snow or putting in a better antenna and seeing a much better picture. With digital, you must choose the more elaborate system or you get nothing at all. In many cases, switching to digital means that people will forced to install a more elaborate antenna system and many of those who do will still get no signal at all. This is why I've been critical of the decision to switch to digital transmissions for terrestrial television broadcasts. I think that most people do not value the image quality as highly as the digital television advocates do, and who cares how pretty the picture is if you can't see it?
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Zenaku ( 821866 )

              Exactly right. My parents have a lake cabin that is about half-way between the two nearest television markets, right on the edge of the range for both. In the past, they have been able to get most broadcast channels from one city or the other. Many of them are pretty snowy, but watchable.

              This summer I helped my Dad put up a new HD antennae, in preparation for the upcoming switch. The monstrous thing was the size of our driveway, and mounted at the top of a 75 foot pole.

              It couldn't pull in a single digit

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              Your overall point is correct. However based on my experiences with the degradation of a digital signal on a noisy cable line, I would say that a digital signal is not necessarily a binary "perfect picture or no picture at all." (I'm assuming it would be similar for a noisy or weak over-the-air signal. Am I wrong?)

              Depending on the noise source, a poor signal can mean seeing occasionally blockyness in the image, or getting frames intermittently (so that the image freezes from time to time), or getting audio

          • by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:11PM (#25137513) Homepage

            The image/sound quality associated with one's definition of "watchable" is inversely proportional to the product of their frugality and their desperation to watch the show. Any 12 year old with semi-scrambled "adult" stations coming in via cable will tell you that.

            Some people will tolerate a crappy picture and incomprehensible audio rather than pay for subscription service - Those people have now switched from poor video/audio to no video/audio and are upset.

            At least that's my guess.

      • In my original post, I meant that the "over the air" hold outs using converter boxes and getting crappy or no reception (depending on their area - like in the article).
      • by Dzimas ( 547818 )
        You didn't read TFA, did 'ya? :) The problem is that the digital transmission footprint is smaller. That means that some suburban viewers (or viewers in obstructed areas) may find themselves unable to receive OTA broadcasts without expensive outdoor antennas. For people on a limited budget (ie: the kind of person you might find living in a trailer in the countryside), this will cause problems. However... there ain't nuttin ta stop y'all from trying out the newfangled digeetal thingy before the anylog tranmi
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by rwade ( 131726 )

          there ain't nuttin ta stop y'all from trying out the newfangled digeetal thingy before the anylog tranmishun goes dark.

          Untrue. Currently, almost all DTV signals are broadcasting UHF. Post-transition, many stations will shift digital signals to VHF, which has notably different reception qualities than UHF.

          UHF also requires a different antenna than VHF.

      • Or you're like my dad. Who filled out the relevant paper work. Then got his cards AFTER the expiration date stated on them.

        And since he's already filled out the paperwork he can't get new cards issued. So what then? His whole argument was "If they're going to issue them to everyone, why the hell do they have expiration dates to begin with." So now he's without a converter and without the ability to get a subsidized one.

  • I guess this opens the door for a new Survivor series - Survivor: DTV
  • This changeover needs to be done at some point... might as well be now. You can't remove all variables that could cause problems, but I will say they could certainly make it easier to find out whats going on for the 'average' person.

    All I have is basic cable ($13/mo on top of my internet package to basically make sure my over-the-air channels come in clear, plus I get Discovery channel and a discount on my internet bill), so I know my TV will continue to work fine, but I've hardly heard word one about the c

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      "but I think the TV industry (whoever they may be) would be running a whole lot of PSAs on what is going to happen and how to make sure your TV still works."

      Yes, they are.

      There are commercials on almost every channel, many done by the local news stations and tons by cable and satellite companies that are educating people about the switchover, what they'll need to do and where to go to get more info. Obviously in the cable and satellite cases the solution is buying cable or satellite, though some are surpris

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      You must watch even less TV than I do. The only TV I've watched in the past 6 months was the Olympics on NBC, and I saw a dozen announcements being done by the local NBC station about digital over-the-air. They hammered on it. I haven't watched any TV since the Olympics ended, but I'm sure they're still at it. The over-the-air stations have a heavily vested interest in making sure every single broadcast-only viewer has a converter box. If they lose viewership because people didn't get converters, their

  • Yawn (Score:2, Interesting)

    TV viewers in the lowest age category dropped by 50% in the last year. Netcraft and Nielson confirm it, TV is dying.

    • Watch it, Nielsen apparently lays copyright claims [] to their 'facts' (somehow), and will send you a DMCA notice in 3...2...1...
      • by blueg3 ( 192743 )

        They actually only lay copyright claim to their particular collection of facts (that is, the grouping of station names into categories that they created). This, as it turns out, is quite copyrightable.

  • Let the pain begin! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rocker_wannabe ( 673157 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:48AM (#25137087)

    I've already tried using the digital TV receiver in my area (Ventura County, CA) and I only get 3 stations that all seem to be related. The major stations are supposed to already be transmitting a digital signal but I can't get any of them (ABC, NBC, etc).

    I guess I'll miss out on all the car chases that are followed by news helicopters and the witty news anchor banter. Oh well, somehow I'll get by.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:49AM (#25137105)
    A hillbilly without his wrestling shows is a very dangerous individual. Well-armed and high on crystal meth, they are nigh unstoppable. The only way to save ourselves is to hole up at our universities and libraries. They're the only places hillbillies will never go.
  • Bad Analog Signal? (Score:2, Informative)

    by russlar ( 1122455 )
    I wonder how many of these people who are complaining about poor digital reception also get poor analog reception.

    With analog, poor reception will give you snow, and a fuzzy picture. You can still make out most of the image, but it looks like crap. With digital, poor reception will give you choppy video and pixelation.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Waffle Iron ( 339739 )

      That's true. Most people grew up with analog static and other artifacts, so they probably don't even notice it that much.

      With digital TV, I could deal with occasional choppy video and pixelation when someone walks around the room if it weren't for the damned audio dropouts.

      That's my pet peeve about digital TV. I can't figure out why they didn't allocate ~10kHz of bandwidth for a backup analog audio channel to switch to if the digital decoder fails. A brief audio dropout can make you miss enough important in

    • With digital, poor reception will give you choppy video and pixelation.

      Actually, no, it doesn't. That's the problem. The way broadcast Digital TV is designed, if you have poor reception, you get nothing. Blank screen. People who had poor reception before will now get NO reception.

  • by jbeaupre ( 752124 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:57AM (#25137273)
    Prediction 1: Sales of coat hangers will soar as people build their own antennas []

    Prediction 2: Sales of coat hangers will see a second spike as people realize they needed metal coat hangers.
  • by linebackn ( 131821 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:59AM (#25137313)

    What exactly is alleged benefit of switching to digital anyway? This is Slashdot, so I would think somebody here would know. Is there a real technical benefit? What reason, real or not, convinced the government to force this switch?

    To show my frustration with this, when February 18 comes around I plan on dumping a bunch of old TVs I have by the dumpster. I encourage anyone else who has an old TV that needs to go out to wait until that day and do the same.

    • by ShadowRangerRIT ( 1301549 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:10PM (#25137495)

      From the gov't's perspective, it frees up a part of the spectrum useful for signals that can penetrate walls easily (useful for emergency services).

      From the public's perspective, the reception is generally better with digital (with a large radius of near perfect reception, followed by a drop to nil signal outside that radius) as opposed to analog which has a relatively small high fidelity radius with slow dropoff over distance. This also allows bands to be reused a little more easily in nearby markets, since the signals will cross less noticeably, and the digital aspect allows easy filtering of the weaker signal. And of course, 1080i signals beat 480i signals quite handily in picture quality.

    • by blueg3 ( 192743 )

      Digital signals of a quality similar to analog television take up substantially less bandwidth. HD television signals, if I remember correctly, take up roughly the same bandwidth as an analog signal. They can't share space on the spectrum, so if you're transmitting both analog and HD, you take up twice as much of the spectrum per channel. In many areas, there's simply not enough broadcast spectrum to hold both analog and HD transmissions of each channel.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by TimSSG ( 1068536 )
      The theory goes with digital TV you can send more in the same bandwidth or send the same amount in less bandwidth. The Government sold off the extra bandwidth, or said emergency response people can use some of it. Tim S
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Sweet. I'll take the biggest one and use it to play video games and watch movies.
  • Is anyone working on a GPL DTV antenna? I know that they have created GPL'ed an analog one called Gray-Hoverman. []
  • by rwade ( 131726 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:59AM (#25137331)

    We will see additional complaints once this is rolled out to areas with more geographic diversity.

    Ghosting (an effect of multipath reception, where the tv receives the signal more than once) is an annoyance with analog sets and occurs in areas with serious terrain, skyscrapers, or airplanes flying overhead (none of which really affects the Wilmington market). With a digital set, it can cause a complete loss of signal as the logic hardware may not know onto which signal to lock. Reviews online indicate that a good directional antenna and a quality digital converter box can eliminate those issues.

    The way that this transition will occur muddies the waters further. Every station is broadcasting digital TV in the UHF band right now; post-transition, many stations will revert to broadcasting digital TV in the VHF band. Though we have the opportunity to read reviews for which antenna-receiver solution works best for UHF digital TV signals, people will only have the opportunity to read reviews on how this works with VHF after the transition.

    Finally, the inexpensive converter boxes eligible for the coupon are of varying quality. There are some that have been recognized as excellent (The Zenith, the Channel Master, the Echostar), there are some that are awful (the Digital Stream, the GE).

  • Preamble: We buy our local franchise's $12/month package. (It's basically UHF+VHF+Cspan) They won't transmit ATSC (ATSC is over-the-air digital) over this service. There appears to be no way to join the cable-NTSC and ATSC signals into a single coaxial antenna.

    With the switch to digital coming, the cable franchise has maneuvered itself into an ideal situation. Get rid of deadbeat customers like us or force them into the expensive DTV packages. The number of customers that will begrudgingly switch to an e

  • by swm ( 171547 ) * <> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:05PM (#25137401) Homepage

    Marx had it wrong.
    *TV* is the opiate of the masses.

    Any my crystal ball says if they turn of the TV,
    there will be riots in the streets.

    I'll bet the politicians blink (Hi, Sara!) and analog stays on the air.

  • but this is what will take people to the streets!

    (who am I kidding, everyone has cable anyway)

  • Technology (Score:4, Funny)

    by RockMFR ( 1022315 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:10PM (#25137499)
    It's amazing how far our technology has come in the last 50 years or so. At this rate, I think it is likely that we will see the following technological advances over the next decade:
    • Hovering cars that get 0.3 miles per gallon
    • Electronic books that never wear out and only need to be repurchased every 4 years
    • Roofs made entirely of superthin glass
    • A poison that we can put in foods that far exceeds the protein content of melamine
    • 500-megaton nuclear weapons
    • Fourth trimester abortions
  • I Live in Wilmington (Score:4, Informative)

    by jmcharry ( 608079 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:14PM (#25137579)

    I live in Wilmington, NC and receive all the stations with an indoor antenna, a two bay bow tie with reflector. It is an old model once carried by Radio Shack. I think Channel Master still makes them. Likely a lot of the problem is that two of the stations moved from VHF to UHF, and I haven't found a decent indoor UHF antenna for sale in town.

    Three of the stations are transmitting from a tall tower at Winnabow, NC, about 15 miles from downtown Wilmington. The ABC affiliate is on top at about 2000ft. I don't know where the NBC and Fox antennas are, but those stations are running fairly low power last I knew. The CBS affiliate, which converted from a LP license, is somewhat farther away, at Riegelwood, NC, but it is watchable, although not quite as strong. The PBS station is still transmitting both analog and digital; analog from Winnabow, and digital from Delco, NC. They appear to have the strongest digital signal here, even from somewhat farther away. They also transmit four streams during the day and three during prime time when the HD stream is operating.

    One problem I did note, and could never solve, is that an Element 19in receiver cannot decode the audio from the ABC station. After a lot of flailing around and calls to the station, the importer and the FCC, I finally gave up and traded the set for a different brand. This seems to be a problem with all instances of that model, but not to larger screened models by the same manufacturer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      WECT and WSFX are sharing WWAY's antenna, so they're all from the exact same location. The difference is power level:

      WWAY-DT 1000 kW
      WSFX-DT 80 kW
      WECT-DT 98 kW (to boost to 710 kW some time after 09/30/08)

      WILM-LD is at 15 kW on the side of the tower which WUNJ-DT is on at 1000 kW, but a lot shorter.

      UNC is changing their digital lineup tomorrow. HD on 39-1, UNC-KD on 39-2, UNC-NC on 39-3, all 24/7.

  • hilly terrain sucks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by freg ( 859413 )
    My parents house is really not in the country, as its only 10 minutes from a county with 1 million people, but there is a hill just big enough right in front of their house that it completely cuts off all digital broadcast signal from the city. Analog signal, however, survives bouncing around the atmosphere well enough to make it to their house largely intact with just a little ghosting. I imagine this is going to be the case for a lot of people.
  • by sjonke ( 457707 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:43PM (#25138091) Journal

    ... but for us, since getting a digital TV converter box we are able to pick up many more channels then before. In fact, with analog there was really only two or three channels we got that were watchable. Now we get far more channels, all of which look perfect, plus digital exclusive variants of some of those channels, such as two 24-hour local weather channels and two new PBS channels, one with different programming in english and one with different programming all in spanish.

    The one real issue I have with it is the handling of 16:9 HD broadcasts. The converter box has the option, and it's on by default, to obey what the program tells it do with regard to whether to letterbox, zoom (aka crop) or stretch to 4:3, but the programs don't seem to be using this intelligently, often having 4:3 shows letterboxed anyway, for example, plus the converter box has a bug where after a while it just starts stretching everything, regardless of what the program tells it to do. In the end you end up having to make the decision yourself and manually switch between letterbox or zoomed. It's a nuisance, and probably one that most people wouldn't know what to do about anyway. They'd just end getting everything stretched (ack!)

  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @01:02PM (#25138447) Homepage Journal

    I consider myself to be technically competent and quite familiar with video protocols... especially digital video formats and transmission requirements.

    I also live in a MSA that has over 140,000 people living in it, even though the Neilson company doesn't consider it big enough for classifying it as an independent television market. Yes, I know that there are markets much smaller than this, but it doesn't matter.

    The point is, in spite of the fact that I was able to tune in over 10 television stations with the analog signals... most of them quite clearly... I can't pick up a single digital television channel. That by itself isn't so awful other than the fact that the local analog signal has been shut off... at the beginning of this month (September 1st). The city I live in has "officially" already gone through the transition to digital television. I am serious here too... I can't pick up a single channel that even remotely works.

    There are some transmitters in a nearby state (about 60 miles away from where I live) that are still broadcasting an analog signal. However, they are about to turn off that signal in about two weeks. Well, I guess I have a good collection of DVDs that I've been buying over the years, and now that most of the decent television series are going onto DVD as well, I can just buy them instead of watching the broadcast television.

    What a way to "save" the television industry!

    Yes, I have access to things like DirectTV, cable television networks, and other such nonsense. I have my own reasons for not wanting to access broadcast commercial television in such a manner. The point is that it doesn't work!

    Oh... about the silly coupon program for the converter boxes. I asked for a coupon back in June... and it never came. My wife (without letting me know first) requested an additional coupon which finally came.... about a month after the switch to digital television. The converter box is about what I was expecting, basically a piece of cheap consumer junk that is completely incompatible with all of the video equipment I have... other than I guess a television signal can get through. My wife hates the thing even more than I do, but at least the FCC can sit back and feel like they have taken care of a family like mine with such a wonderful "improvement" in the technology.

    Yeah, right. Improvement. At least I can still pick up gamma rays from the Big Bang on my old analog television, which is as exciting as watching mud dry.

  • A DTV Sucess Story (Score:3, Informative)

    by LackThereof ( 916566 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:08PM (#25141685)

    I see so many bad experiences on here that I just have to chime in with my own personal experience.

    I filed the forms, got my 2 coupons, and bought the cheapest 2 boxes I could find, at an online store for $43 each, shipped.

    I live in metropolitan Seattle, ground floor of a 2 story building in a hilly area, and my TV antenna is an unamplified Radioshack bunny-ear antenna, sitting on the windowsill.

    Without tweaking the antenna direction, I get all 6 channels that were relatively snow-free on analog, with a drastic improvement in picture quality. With the help of the on-screen signal strength meter, I can adjust the antenna to pull in the 2 other channels which had heavy snow on analog, now completely snow-free. And I now have on-screen TV listings!

    I also get 2 spanish-language channels which I never noticed before.

    All the UHF stations which were unwatchable before, are still unwatchable.

    2 problems I have found: The proximity of the antenna to my CRT TV really matters. It seems like the TV causes a lot of interference, If I get the antenna with a yard or so of the TV, the picture goes away very quickly. On analog, I don't recall having this trouble.

    The other issue is that if I leave my converter box powered on for over 48 hours (i.e. if I don't turn the box off when I turn the TV off), it loses signal on it's own, apparently from overheating. The Artec box I have is the cheapest box I know of, and the case has no vent holes. Simply remembering to turn the box off when I turn the TV off keeps everything happy, although it means that the program-guide takes a few seconds to update when I turn it back on.

  • Anyone Home? (Score:3, Informative)

    by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @10:28PM (#25146427)

    I'm in North Carolina, but not in Wilmington. Maybe those annoyed folks down there haven't been actually watching TV, because it's been almost impossible to avoid the multiple daily commercials about the switch, the incessant crawls across the screen, and the incessant news stories. Maybe these are the same people who walk out of a flooded house and complain that no one warned them about the hurricane.

    Per local press, the largest proportion of complaints were directed against a single station whose digital coverage area is smaller than it's analog umbrella was. If true, then with or without a converter, those folks won't be able to watch that channel.

If you suspect a man, don't employ him.