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Is your TV ready for 2009-02-17?

  1. Feb 17, 2007 #1

    jtbell

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    Two years from today, all analog over-the-air (OTA) TV broadcasts in the USA are supposed to shut down, by federal law. Practically all TV stations are now broadcasting digital signals on second channels. Beginning on March 1 this year, all new devices that can receive broadcast TV signals (TVs, VCRs, DVD recorders, etc.) must include digital (ATSC) tuners. Since last March, all TVs larger than 25 inches have already had to include digital tuners.

    If you use a satellite or cable TV service, this is a non-issue. Satellite TV is digital anyway. Cable TV operators can continue to deliver analog signals as long as they want to, although they'll have to convert the broadcast channels from digital to analog in order to do so.

    I wonder how many of us still use OTA TV? I do, and I've already switched to digital using the same rooftop antenna that I used for analog. The picture is usually better, although I have to be more careful about aiming the antenna. Digital TV reception is basically "all or nothing." When the signal drops below a certain level, the picture breaks up dramatically, instead of just picking up a bit more noise ("snow").
     
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  3. Feb 17, 2007 #2
    we are so far away from the transmiters
    we only get one over the air channel out of 8 or 9
    in english in south miami dade
    as most are near the north county line 400+ blocks away
    sat works fine
    but will they convert the sats too???
     
  4. Feb 17, 2007 #3

    Moonbear

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    I had to get cable when I moved into the mountains, because I don't get sufficient signal with antenna. I also couldn't get DSL for internet (too far from something or other), so also needed the cable for internet. None of my TVs are ready for digital, and I'm not about to run out to remedy that any time soon. As it is, two of my three TVs don't even have all the input jacks for modern DVD players (one is still from when I was a teen and resides in the guest bedroom...my parents visited in the fall and were shocked to notice I still had that TV and that it still worked, and the other is also something I acquired from my parents' home when they wanted one of those monster TVs, and resides in my bedroom...it doesn't seem to work right with 5 channels, but the rest are fine). I got a converter thingy for the one I have in my bedroom so I can connect a DVD player to it in spite of it only have an input for coaxial cable. Not perfect, but good enough since the DVD player connected to it doesn't work very well either (though, the cat seemed to improve its functionality by knocking it off the dresser). The third one was just a cheap one I got for the living room before I knew there were converters to hook up DVD players through coaxial cable inputs. I think I bought it about 3 or 4 years ago.

    If one day I suddenly can't watch TV because all the signals switch to digital, I'll just stick to watching movies on DVD until a TV breaks and needs replacing.
     
  5. Feb 18, 2007 #4
    But but but then how will you know what they're doing on the Today show? :biggrin:
     
  6. Feb 18, 2007 #5

    turbo

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    You mean filming yokels waving and screaming in Rockefeller Center? Gosh! I'd hate to miss that. :yuck:
     
  7. Feb 18, 2007 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    We've been digital for eight years now - Direct TV. It's that or three channels.

    That's okay, TV is going on demand, online now anyway.

    Yes TV haters, the number of channels will now be virtually unlimited. :biggrin:
     
  8. Feb 18, 2007 #7

    verty

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    Is online TV really going to happen? Cable works because the same signals are sent to everyone, but on-demand TV where you choose the show from a playlist will surely need too much bandwidth. I would think one would need local hubs in each city which cache all the videos.

    Also, do people really want to choose which show to watch? If we look at the radio, the radio plays songs that one would probably not choose if one could choose music to play, and yet there is something pleasant about that. I think on-demand TV provides too much choice and the result of it will be that people watch far less TV than they do now, and I think that will work against that.

    Perhaps I'm not with it, but it seems to me that there will always be a place for broadcast TV as we know it.
     
  9. Feb 18, 2007 #8
    most network have sites to catch missed TV shows now
    and live tv is on the net at low quality now i have a TVU player
    that gets about 80 channels world wide now [ and free]
     
  10. Feb 18, 2007 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    There is something to the idea of preferring to not have control. I find that even if I have a show recorded, if given the option I have an inclination to watch a live re-broadcast rather than a recording. However, recently I have found myself turning off the TV to watch shows on the internet. I love the fact that for the first time in thirty years, for example, I don't have to worry about missing one of my favorite shows - Meet the Press. No changing schedule or recording to mess with, just log on and watch when I feel like it.

    And, AND, I am sooooooo sick of my favorite, quality programming, being pre-empted by freakin sports!!!
     
  11. Feb 18, 2007 #10

    jtbell

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    Since you're on cable, it's basically up to your cable company to decide when to go digital. From what I've been reading, they have an economic incentive to switch to digital, because they can send more channels in the same bandwidth that they now use for analog. On the other hand, they don't want to lose too many customers by forcing them to switch.

    As far as hardware goes, if you're using a cable box, switching from analog to digital cable just means replacing the box. If you're using a cable-ready TV and a channel package that doesn't need a cable box, then you'd either have start using a digital cable box or buy a new digital-cable-ready TV. But I think that will be several years down the line, especially if your cable company is small and doesn't have the resources to convert quickly.

    For me, broadcast TV now usually means about 15 channels (depending on the weather) from three different cities. :cool: I live in a rural area where you have to have a pretty good antenna to get a decent picture on the analog channels from the nearest city. That's eight to start with: NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, CW, MNT, PBS, and the local religious station. I can also pick up analog channels from two other cities in different directions, but they're further enough away that the picture is noticeably worse and not worth watching, compared to the "nearby" stations.

    With digital, on the other hand, so long as you can hold onto the signal, the picture stays as good as the station is sending out. Many of those stations from the other two cities are now quite watchable for me. For network stuff it doesn't make any difference which city I get it from, but it's nice to be able to watch local news from them because I visit them regularly. It also gives me more options for sports and syndicated reruns of old programs. One of those stations does a very good job with the newly-remastered original Star Trek series. I'm sure the original showings never looked this good when I was in high school!

    We've never had cable or satellite in this house. It had an antenna when we bought it almost twenty years ago, so we figured we'd just use it instead of paying for cable. In all those years the only cable channels that I've really missed (from watching them when traveling) are CNN, the Weather Channel, and the Outdoor Life Network (now Versus) during the Tour de France. I've often spent the whole morning watching live TdF coverage while visiting my parents.

    The digital NBC stations around here have subchannels with 24/7 weather information, which makes a decent substitute for the Weather Channel. I've read that either ABC or CBS (can't remember which) is working on a 24/7 news subchannel for their stations.
     
  12. Feb 18, 2007 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    We're in the hills and blocked from most major stations in Oregon. We can pick up some UHF re-broadcasts of the majors, but still are limited to low quality signals on ABC, CBS and Fox, a very poor NBC, and the one good station, PBS, which is already broadcasting in Hi-def I hear.

    We have been very happy with satellite TV. When we have a picture, which now is probably 99.9+% of the time, the quality is always excellent. For a long time we had a frequent problem with signal loss in bad weather, which in Oregon is a significant issue, but with the latest equipment, that problem is all but eliminated. The antenna aim is critical... I would guess that it has to be within a degree or so for maximum signal strength. And like you say, the signal strength as a function of aim is very non-linear. Over a few degrees of aim, one can see the signal sweep from over ninety percent, to zero. Also, the wind can be a problem. We have to go way out into the pasture in order to get the required southern shot, so I cemented in a railroad tie that could stop a Mack truck and mounted the dish on that. Now, the dish would have to be ripped apart before it would lose aim.

    Unfortunately we won't have a line-of-sight shot to major stations for a very long time to come, but with satellite [and now the internet], the point is moot. Also, we get all of the local stations via satellite in addition to about two-hundred others, about one-hundred pay-per-view stations, and music stations, which we really enjoy - the digital sound is always excellent.
     
  13. Feb 19, 2007 #12
    IPTV works with the same principles as normal broadcast tv, in as much as it is mulitcasted. You are right however if on-demand TV truly is, *on demand* it will be unicast. However you hit the nail on the head when talking about caching. In the industy we call this content switching. Its used a lot in the teleco world. Right now the company i work for is peered with vodaphone, and we offer as part of our 3g service TV to mobile phones. We do this via a mix of content switching, load balancing (same difference almost) and multicasting. We use these differing technology in harmony to ensure that we dont max out our BW or our servers, and distribution channels. We actually offer Quad play services on our converged IP based network:

    Data
    Telephony
    Video
    & Mobility

    Its the future of communications :) The futures bright the futures (not) orange :smile: hehe
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2007
  14. Feb 19, 2007 #13
    Absolutely, you can multiplex many more signals together when using a digital signal, thus you can deliver far more services for the same price. Analogue is going the same way as the POTS (plain old telephone services) that being to its grave...
     
  15. Feb 19, 2007 #14

    turbo

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    Currently, every radio station with a decent signal is owned by one of the big networks, and they all play the same crap over and over again. I swear that the guys programming these stations are getting really huge payola from the record companies. The one exception here is WKIT, which is owned by Steven King - yeah the guy that writes horror stories. That station plays a half-decent mix of rock and blues, with live locally-resident DJs. I would direct you to their streaming audio link, but their bandwidth costs got so great that they had to shut it off.

    My solution: Over the years, I have accumulated about 500 CDs of rock, blues, country, folk, etc, and about a year ago I bought a Sony CD player with a horizontal carousel (holds the CDs standing up on edge) with a capacity of 400 CDs. When I get up in the morning, I turn it on (I have it defaulted to shuffle mode) and I never know if the next song is going to be by Jackson Browne, Chet Atkins, Dire Straits, T-Bone Walker, Johnny Winter, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris... you get the picture. I had a guy here working on my chimney to enlarge the flue for the wood stove, and after about a half-hour, his curiosity got the better of him and he asked if that was a tape that I made up. I told him that it was a CD player shuffling through some of my CD collection and he said "If I had one of those things, I'd never want to leave my house." :biggrin:
     
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