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DTV Transition - One Year Later

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the just-switch-to-cable dept.

Television 431

commodore64_love writes "One year has passed since NTSC-analog television died (R.I.P. 6/12/09 — aged 68 years), and the new ATSC-digital television became standard. According to Retrovo, the transition had some successes and failures. Retailers saw this as an opportunity to sell new HDTVs and 46 million converter boxes, while cable providers advertised rates as low as $10/month. One-third of the converter boxes the US subsidized — approximately 600 million dollars worth — were never used by purchasers. Overall 51% of Americans felt the DTV transition was good, while 23% said it was not. 12% of respondents report that since the switch they have worse reception. Others received better reception, gaining 24-hour movie channels, retro channels, foreign programming, and other new networks that had not existed under the old analog system."

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431 comments

Fill 'er up! (4, Insightful)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565898)

The best (read sucky) part are all the perfectly functional, yet completely useless, "old" analog TVs that have been dumped (often illegally) in landfills. I have two that can't even give away.

Re:Fill 'er up! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565944)

Your sig is very appropriate for your post, considering the converter boxes mentioned in the article summary prevent said TVs from being "completely useless".

Re:Fill 'er up! (1)

PriceChild (1138463) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566014)

I'm not from the US, but I have several old tv's that don't even have a scart port. If his are similarly old, then yes, useless. Unless I want to watch old vhs or play an old console I guess...

Re:Fill 'er up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566068)

Scart plugs don't exist in the US, but your point is valid. Lots of old TVs don't have a video input connection.

Re:Fill 'er up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566366)

the converter boxes output on old channel 3 or 4, I am CERTAIN that your TV has an antenna input, and yes a balun will work to convert it from coax to flat cable also, so your argument is made of ignorance.

Re:Fill 'er up! (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566452)

Seriously. Even my grandmother was able to hook up converter boxes to all of her (very very old) televisions. It really isn't rocket surgery.

Re:Fill 'er up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566098)

Given the context of this story about the analog to digital conversion, unless he lists another reason why the TVs would be 'useless', I'll assume he's talking about the analog tuner.

Re:Fill 'er up! (2, Informative)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566114)

The tricky part is Comcast. Comcast decided to do their own 'digital conversion' as well. So far I have not been about to string the comcast converter with the universal converter. So I wither get OTA digital (which isn't possible is my area) or Comcast digital (which requires a digital TV to view).

Re:Fill 'er up! (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566218)

Comcast's cable box is not capable of downscaling to 480i? I find that hard to believe.

Re:Fill 'er up! (2, Interesting)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566418)

They absolutely are. I worked in the department that develops the guide software (all of the gui shit) on comcast settop boxes. All of the settop boxes I saw while working there had at least composite output. Hell, I did the majority of my testing on SD televisions.

What the GP seems to be refering to is Comcast moving to only digital signals over their lines, requiring people with SD televisions who previously only watched analog channels to get a settop box. (up until now, if you only watched analog channels you could just plug the RF cable straight into the back of your TV. Of course you wouldn't get any guide features, but this worked quite well for years with people like my parents).

Re:Fill 'er up! (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566248)

Yup comcast took advantage of this to screw all the DVR and analog TV owners out there.

They advertised that "we wont abandon you" and then turned around and ran all the customers over with a big truck.

The claim was for "more and better" programming. yet the more or better has not surfaced and will never surface. Now users are stuck with a super crappy free box or pay $5.00 a month for a less crappy box.

Re:Fill 'er up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566446)

I guess YMMV, but I've been perfectly happy with the 80 hour dual tuner HD DVR I get from Comcast for $12 per month. We actually have 3 of those and a $5 per month non-DVR 480i digital box (which we used to have connected to a TiVo, but have since stopped using since the Comcast DVR was cheaper than TiVo service and can record two shows at once with a higher capacity)

Re:Fill 'er up! (1)

dwightk (415372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565946)

not completely useless. Get a dvd player.

Re:Fill 'er up! (1)

radish (98371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566002)

Or a converter box, or cable, or satellite, or ...

They're certainly far from useless. In fact, the two TVs in my house I use the most don't even have any kind of tuners (they're industrial-spec plasmas) but somehow I still manage to watch TV with them :)

Re:Fill 'er up! (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566534)

Or a converter box

From the summary: "12% of respondents report that since the switch they have worse reception."

or cable, or satellite

Not everyone wants another $500+ per year TV bill.

Re:Fill 'er up! (1)

budcub (92165) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566084)

They're not useless, more like worthless? I have a 32" Sony Wega TV that I bought in 2002. It has a fantastic picture, but is only standard def. Last fall I was dropping some things off at a thrift store and someone had dropped the exact same size and model of my TV in their donations pile. There it sat, free for the taking for anyone who wanted it. Well, it weighs 100 lbs and would need two men, a dolly and a truck to haul away, but there it was.

I'm still using my old TV, it may not be high def, but I paid a lot of money for it at the time and it is paid for.

Re:Fill 'er up! (2, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566480)

If it continues to work well for you, and you find value in it, then why do you say that it is worthless?

I have computers from several years ago that I'd have a hard time selling, but they certainly are not worthless.

Re:Fill 'er up! (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566528)

Or a converter box. Analog sets aren't "useless" - I'm still using the old 70s-era set that I used to play Atari games on, plus two other sets made in the late 80s and early 90s respectively. You don't need to junk your analog CRTs.

The DTV conversion was good for me. I used to get about 20 channels and now I get 40 - all free. Some of the new channels I get are:
- two Spanish channels
- a Global channel for foreign programs
- Link TV for international news
- qubo for kids
- RetroTV (70s, 80s)
- Life
- Wellness
- a 24 hour movie channel
- 24-hour sports
- 24-hour weather/ news
- JCTV (music vids)
- ION network
- MyNetworkTV
- PBS world
- PBS arts
- MiND
- and a channel that plays nothing but syndicated shows (CSI, Deadliest Catch, Star Trek, etc)

Re:Fill 'er up! (1)

deathplaybanjo (1735092) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566202)

You could always give them to a thrift store or electronics recycling.

Re:Fill 'er up! (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566522)

The Goodwill near my home won't take them. but the electronic recycling people come around once a year. Maybe I will dump it on them. Good idea!

Re:Fill 'er up! (3, Interesting)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566386)

The best (read sucky) part are all the perfectly functional, yet completely useless, "old" analog TVs that have been dumped (often illegally) in landfills.

I would argue that they're not always completely useless. I work for a cable network (name withheld) and some of my customers are still using the analog boxes with a set top box to do the signal reception and transcoding. Obviously they're not getting hd but that doesn't always matter to everyone.

It's great (1)

dwightk (415372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565910)

that $200M of absolute waste isn't punished.

Re:It's great (2, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566308)

It wasn't a waste by any measure. The Government actually made money off of the spectrum it was able to reclaim and sell from the DTV transition. Plus, instead of sending wasteful Analog TV signals over the air, those channels are being reused to provide better cell coverage and other services.

From a Completely Different Perspective (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565916)

Me, personally, I think it's great and had to be done. Recently got a tiny DTV to USB tuner (~$20) for my computer and think it's fantastic. No doubt everyone's heard this viewpoint.

But let me relay the experiences of my grandmother who lives in the middle of nowhere mid-west. She didn't get new channels. She didn't get 24 hour movie channels. She didn't get better reception. What she got was yet another box for me to put in the chain between her television and the antenna attached to the pole shed. She now has another remote. Her checklist of things to go through when she wants to program a recording just got one longer as well as things to check when it's not working. And when she records it, she can only do one channel at a time as that's what the DTV box has to be set on since her VCR can't control digital signals. She was already getting analog distortion or static when she recorded her soap operas and I think she had learned to cope with this kind of distortion when viewing them intently. Last I checked up on her she complained that the digital distortion (specifically the audio distortion) was much harder to work through at times as opposed to fuzzy static. The clipping of the voices seems to ruin her enjoyment of a cookie cutter three quarter view emo meltdown between two hams.

So I think a lot of the views you're hearing are people who are connected to the internet and the unspoken voice of someone who has neither the internet nor a cell phone is actually a large consumer of the programs on air wave TV and products advertised on nationally broadcasted programs. Just something to consider, after helping her through this change I would be doubtful that she is alone or unique to her age group.

Re:From a Completely Different Perspective (1)

dwightk (415372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565978)

Weak digital tv weak analog tv

it's not even close

Re:From a Completely Different Perspective (3, Interesting)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566156)

Weak digital tv weak analog tv
it's not even close


Weak digital is FAR worse than weak analog. If that's what you mean, I agree.

Re:From a Completely Different Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566448)

Yup, that's what you get from a *digital* medium. Analog channel is still human-understandable with a high level of noise, it just isn't pretty. Digital, well, you get MPEG block artifacts, skips, signal drops - as soon as the SNR goes anywhere over 20%. Yeah yeah, error correction blah blah blah, but since Messrs. Solomon, Reed, and their friends effectively decrease bandwidth (and the incentive is to cram as many channels into the band as possible), you get the bare minimum of that.

So what you're getting is slightly better signal when it's good, but a mostly useless signal when it isn't good. Meh. In some places, there used to have passable analog signal, now your best bet is a mobile modem, laptop, and a h264 over TCP/IP stream.

Re:From a Completely Different Perspective (1)

dwightk (415372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566490)

oops, the "less than sign" was removed

gotta look harder at the preview

Re:From a Completely Different Perspective (2)

gravis777 (123605) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566378)

Totally agree. I live in one of the top 5 markets in the US. For the most part its good. Problem is, I got alluminum siding to the house. So, Dish Network reciever in living room hooked up to outside antenna = strong signals on everything except PBS - which is worse. Complained to their engineers, cause there are times when the signal drops from 70% (get 95% or above on all other stations) to 20-30%, and they swear its not them.

However, in the bedroom, I'm too lazy to run a coaxe cable, and was running analogue antenna from rabbit ears for years. Worked just fine - a little fuzzy, but I could live with it. However, when I added the digital converter box... digital channels, indoor antenna and alluminum siding = BAD combination. Strongest signal was NBC, and only got 45% signal on it. Most channels had less than 35% signal, and totally unwatchable. Finally gave my converter box to a friend. Yes, I do have Dish in the back bedroom as well, but Dish does not carry the additional channels that I get on broadcast DTV (Qubo, Worship Network, ION Life, Universal Sprts, etc).

As for the VCR, totally understand, but really havent recorded since upgrading to HD several years ago. I did have the VCR hooked up to the mix at one time, but DVRs, and the ability to add external harddrives to back up movies, made it so that now I only power up the VCR to watch home movies, which I am rapidly converting to DVD (had a tape break on me a week ago. Did handyman splice (scotch tape), and captured the thing on PC immediately).

No, I totally understand the frustration.

As for the parent's grandmother, just pay the $15 a month to get her basic cable (if she lives in an area that has it) and use the cable tuner in the VCR. The $15 a month you spend on this will probably be worth it to YOU to no longer have to support the converter box.

Re:From a Completely Different Perspective (1)

Killer Orca (1373645) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566128)

I don't know if she has anyone around to help her, but if she does she might want to buy a big HDTV antenna and ditch the current VCR, maybe you can get her this one as a gift http://www.frys.com/product/5634671?site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN_RSLT_PG [frys.com] ? This site also looks like it has some good resources for you to look through http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/welcome.aspx [antennaweb.org] .

Re:From a Completely Different Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566172)

My parents bought one of those HDTV antennae. A month later they bought basic cable.

Re:From a Completely Different Perspective (3, Informative)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566274)

Good suggestion, although I'd say that if you're replacing the VCR (and thus teaching new menus and settings anyway) it's probably easier to just go for a proper DVR instead. Newegg has a tuner/DVR [newegg.com] for $140. Throw in a decent sized hard drive and you've got everything covered in one box for $200, and a device that (IMO) is altogether more elegant than a VCR or DVD Recorder.

Re:From a Completely Different Perspective (2, Interesting)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566352)

She didn't get better reception. What she got was yet another box for me to put in the chain between her television and the antenna attached to the pole shed.

Then she's one of the lucky ones.

My mother spent some money on upgrading her TV instead of doing the subsidized tuner box, and went from four channels (three clear, one slightly fuzzy) down to one VERY clear channel (Public TV, with a .2 channel that shows exactly the same thing as the .1! Yay!), one that's OK and gives her the news and weather plus some sort of 24-hour teen angst .2, and one channel that is basically unviewable due to a 3-4 second breakup every ten seconds or so (in other words, not as viewable as even a fuzzy analog signal). Of course, the channel she enjoyed the most is the one she lost entirely.

Several of her neighbors spent money on the converter boxes to get nothing, where they had three or four viewable channels beforehand. You can add at least a dozen people I know to the list of "got their subsidized converters, and aren't using them".

Because in rural areas (where the Internet basically does not exist, newspapers are delivered via postal mail a day or two late, and TV is THE information lifeline for up-to-date news and weather, and the freed-up frequencies will never ever be used for anything anyway), digital TV sucks.

Satellite dishes sprung up everywhere during the conversion, though a lot of them have been taken down once people realize the "local channels" they got were 150 miles further away than the old "local channels" they used to get, and spending $30 a month to get the news and weather from 250 miles away just doesn't make sense.

YA (closed-source) fleecing of taxpayers (1)

An dochasac (591582) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566442)

DTV to USB tuner (~$20) for my computer

Before the transition:

  • NTSC compatible portables were inexpensive, small (e.g. pocket TVs...) and lasted hours on a few AA batteries.
  • Battery powered portables provided everyone with a cheap way of seeing localized weather information (compare NOAA 162.xxx MHz non-localized audio with local TVs radar/satellite map including commentary and I'll take the latter any day.)
  • Anyone could implement an NTSC compatible, TV, Tuner card, PVR, camcorder... without paying anyone royalties.

After the transition:

  • Most people get a better picture, some people get no picture.
  • Portables are the size and shape of a laptop + USB dongle and consume batteries at a similar rate.
  • No pure OpenSource ATSC compatible devices are possible.
  • Roughly 1/4th the cost of the moon missions was spent on the ATSC conversions but getting America to the moon didn't take as long as giving it digital TV.
  • A few Chinese and Korean TV manufacturers did well for a short time.
  • Thompsons of China (codec owner) receives millions of dollars in license fees and will continue to do so for every compatible device sold.

Yeah, that was a worthwhile boondoggle. After all, every red-blooded American[Tm] has the right to see when their newscaster needs more makeup and a shave.

Re:YA (closed-source) fleecing of taxpayers (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566558)

Your criticisms seem somewhat fair, but you must admit they're fairly niche. Sure, pissing off even that niche might not be considered worthwhile if the only advantage were "the right to see when their newscaster needs more makeup and a shave", as you put it, but the increased picture quality is almost an ancillary benefit. The main point is the vast swathes of spectrum that are now free for new and interesting uses - something that I would consider worth the minor sacrifice to a small segment of the market.

Re:From a Completely Different Perspective (3, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566474)

This sort of story happens whenever a major technological shift occurs. When TV first became popular people were going out and buying TVs and ignoring their radios, and so programming began to shift from radio to TV. All of the serial programming, news shows, and all the other rich programming that used to populate the radio waves all moved to TV, leaving nothing but political talk and music on the radio. Certainly some older consumers ended up getting stuck because they didn't want to or couldn't move to TV, so they stuck with their increasingly useless radios. People that are having trouble with this switch are people that have had the same TV set for 20 years or more and are still watching entirely over-the-air programming even though more and more programming has been moving to cable and satellite for decades. These tend to be older people as a general rule, although not all old people get stuck. My grandmother has a nice new HDTV with a DVR, and my grandfather just got DirecTV hooked up, although he still uses his old 20 year old VCR.

Technological progress moves on, and you either move on with it or get stuck with increasingly useless old tech that you have to jump through more and more hoops to get to work properly. My TV in the living room died just a couple of months ago, and instead of getting a cheap SDTV I went ahead and bought the HDTV because I figured with more and more programming going to HD, the SDTV will become more useless over time. Eventually as programming continues to move to HD, I'll have to switch out the TV upstairs or end up watching all of my programming with the sides cut off. We grumble about these things, but it would be absurd to halt progress just because not everyone is ready or willing to go along with it.

A/D conversion in macrocosm (3, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565918)

For me it's been a true analog-to-digital conversion. I no longer sort-of-get any TV stations; I either get them or I don't. The stations I used to pick up pretty well, I now get perfectly. The stations I used to pick up poorly, I now don't get at all.

Re:A/D conversion in macrocosm (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566240)

Sadly, all my channels are just on the edge of clarity. That means that I get 98% of the video, but 2% of the time it glitches and I miss a few seconds. It effectively ruins the broadcast.

However, this is partly my fault for using a small indoor antenna. If I really cared, I'd get a better antenna. Or cable.

Re:A/D conversion in macrocosm (2, Interesting)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566342)

I wish I were in that situation --- there are a couple of stations which we only get if the weather is perfect, several which we'll get if I position the antenna which I had to make ( http://current.org/ptv/ptv0821make.pdf [current.org] ) just so and one station (broadcasting on 3 channels) which we get fine so long as the weather isn't bad.

The reason for this is the TV stations reducing broadcasting power --- when the local PBS affiliate switched to digital and other stations were still analog we received their signal perfectly, regardless of weather over rabbit ears in the basement --- now that they've reduced their signal strength ( http://www.current.org/tech/tech819d.html [current.org] ) we barely get the signal w/ the afore-mentioned digital-optimized antenna located in the bay window in the living room.

William

Re:A/D conversion in macrocosm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566350)

Same here. I get 3 stations incredibly well, unfortunately I couldn't care less about them.

All the other stations, including the ones I used to regularly watch, are now gone or just brief blips of tv between long stretches of nothing. On the upside, I spend more time watching shows on the internet now.

Re:A/D conversion in macrocosm (5, Funny)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566570)

Yeah, I've lost NBC for good due to the digital conversion; nothing I could do would get me more than a screen full of squares. I live in an apartment complex, so mounting a real rooftop antenna is out of the question.

I did, thanks to this, discover that I can greatly increase my antenna's signal by placing my wok behind it. I guess a wok is close enough to a parabolic reflector to function as one. I have to do that to be able to watch Fringe, which amuses me.

Bad for Commodore 64 users (2, Funny)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565920)

Unfortunately for the article submitter, there are no ATSC VIC-II chips in production...

Re:Bad for Commodore 64 users (1)

Howitzer86 (964585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566138)

I doubt there are any real C64 users left. I have a couple Commodores that I keep for nostalgia. Both of them (a 64 and 128), work with my new digital TV. I assume most new TVs work with analog signals, though I guess this is just temporary. Even cable providers are trying to go all digital. That said, there is always a market for closed circuit security cameras, so you could probably find monitors for those for a long time.

Barring that, just keep an old small TV around. I've got two analog tubes that I never use and can't really give to anybody.

Atari 800 is alright (1)

crow (16139) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566374)

The Atari 800 (and XL/XE computers) had a monitor jack. While it pre-dates the s-video and composite jacks, the signals are compatible, so you can wire a plug to connect to a modern TV using either input. The Atari 2600 game system has the same signals, but they aren't routed to an external port, so you have to take it apart and solder in an s-video and audio jack.

It sucks. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565922)

I bought my TV in 2002, and it's served me well - except now that I'm thinking of dumping cable, I wonder if I can still get a converter box?

There are fewer over the air stations here in Springfiled, because with analog you could pick up Champaign and Decatur stations. People I know with digital TVs can't get those stations any more.

Re:It sucks. (1)

armanox (826486) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566030)

Your TV shouldn't need one. My TV from 1992 picks up digital signals without issue.

Re:It sucks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566196)

I find that hard to believe. The ATSC A/53 standard, used for North Americal digital terrestrial television, wasn't even published yet in 1992. It was published in 95 and adopted by the FCC in 96.

Re:It sucks. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566200)

It shouldn't, but it does. Forty two inch Sony Trinitron, paid $1000 for it new, and it's analog only.

Re:It sucks. (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566252)

Just what kind of TV did you buy in 92 that had a digital tuner built in? I bought a HD TV in 2004-5 that didn't have a digital tuner built in. If I were to upgrade I'd have to give it away with the converter for it to be of any real use for broadcast TV.

Re:It sucks. (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566132)

I bought my TV in 2002, and it's served me well - except now that I'm thinking of dumping cable, I wonder if I can still get a converter box?

The boxes are cheap and abundant - starting from about $20 according to The Almighty Google [google.com] .

As others have mentioned, though, digital does degrade less gracefully than analogue, so you're probably right in thinking that you'll lose a couple of the weaker stations.

Re:It sucks. (0)

dkh2 (29130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566140)

I was just in a Circuit City store this week and yes, you can still get the converter boxen. Set up a good, up on a high pole, huge ass aerial and there's even the possibility that you'll get those Champaign and Decatur stations too.

We purchased 2 new LCD boxen with included ATSC tuners, mounted a roof-top aerial and linked everything via the already present coax in the house and actually added to the channels we can receive. The aerial was off the shelf, old school hardware from Radio Shack. Not even one of those fancy, overpriced "digital" antennas.

No conversion box. No signal amplifiers. Just hooked the TV to the coax running up to the aerial on the roof.

The right aerial antenna mounted clear of other interference will give you the best chance of getting all receivable channels.

Re:It sucks. (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566396)

Ask around. I'm sure there's some neighbor or other who bought a converter and either discovered it didn't work for shit and went Satellite or Cable or realized that since they were already on Cable TV they don't need it anyway.

A $2 6-pack of beer will probably net you one nowadays. But if you want to make a friend, spend a few bucks extra and get the good stuff. :)

Yeah right (0, Flamebait)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565932)

Speak for yourselves, America.

Re:Yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566170)

We will, World.

Haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565936)

My favorite part is that quite often the same people who complain about the switch to DTV are the same people who complain about poor wireless signal and other issues caused by limited space in the radio spectrum.

Meh (1, Redundant)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565962)

We STILL don't have TV service. If it isn't available on Netflix or Hulu, we don't watch it. I highly recommend you folks do the same. Getting rid of TV service was one of the best things we ever did.

Re:Meh (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566134)

You realize the only way to get rid of broadcast tv is to move to the middle of nowhere, right?

Re:Meh (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566228)

I meant we don't have cable or satellite. We could very easily pick up broadcast, but (purposely) don't have the hardware to do it.

I know there is a lot of good stuff out there, especially on things like History Channel and Science Channel. Still, we haven't had TV in close to three years, and I don't miss it one bit.

Re:Meh (1)

Hey_bob (6104) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566246)

Seconded! Opted ditch any sort of TV service (antenna, cable, etc) about 9 year ago. When we moved into our current house (6yrs ago), we setup the living room to not include a TV as the focus of attention. Instead, we stuck the old 27" TV up in the spare bedroom, in case we decided to rent any movies (or play the occasional video game). On the up side, we've had to buy several more bookshelves to accommodate our reading habits. :-D

Re:Meh (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566302)

It's been a year? Yeah, I meant to fire up the TV in antenna mode and see if we get anything worthwhile, but I just haven't gotten around to that yet. When we signed up for Broadband via Cable, they added basic analog TV service (10 channels) for $3/month (after decoding all the packages and their net effects on the bill), so we took the 10 channels and might watch 10 hours a year - $3.60 an hour still seems kind of high for the cra- that we do end up watching via broadcast, especially if we can get those channels digitally via antenna now, on the other hand, it's hardly 2 weekend hours better spent doing other things to mess around with it.

Netflix for the win, we do "watch it instantly" while traveling more than we watch in-room cable TV service.

Re:Meh (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566384)

Between our laptops and gaming systems, We have "Watch Instantly" available on every screen in the house. That, combined with 6 disc-at-a-time, we go through a lot. We generally have a documentary series, a BBC TV series, and an Anime series going on at once (plus the occasional movie thrown in).

Re:Meh (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566444)

True, but if you have the Internet to get your news and weather, and Hulu to get your TV shows, you really haven't given anything up.

I bet you're also probably in an area where the newspaper is delivered daily.

Live in a rural farming area where the Internet doesn't exist and the newspaper is delivered via USPS two days late and an extra half-buck a paper, then we'll talk about how unimportant OTA TV is.

Re:Meh (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566504)

then we'll talk about how unimportant OTA TV is.

I never said OTA tv is unimportant, I merely said that we haven't missed having no active TV connection (Cable, Satellite, or otherwise) in our apartment.

Worse Reception. (1)

Neil Hodges (960909) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565982)

I was among those who got worse reception, unfortunately. I recall getting something like ten channels with reasonable reception prior to the switchover, and now I get five channels with one of them (the only HD channel) losing reception regularly.

Re:Worse Reception. (1)

dcblogs (1096431) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566148)

I now love my antenna. The hi-def reception is better than compressed meatloaf served up via Comcast's pipes. Monthly cost: $0. Priceless. If the antenna's not working for you, try a different one. Placement matters. Roof versus indoors. See how it's working for your neighbors.

Re:Worse Reception. (1)

Lvdata (1214190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566150)

I also get worse reception. My DTV picks up 1 channel. I tried everything including a 6' outdoor antenna to pick up a signal 35mi away, something that rabbit ears USED to pick up. I eventually settled for a converter box that down converts to 640x480. I get all the old channels at analog quality, with frequent digital freezes and glitches. Slight snow is easy to watch through compared with a digital signal. I do get some new HOME SHOPPING channels that I don't want. Thank %deity% for Hulu, netflix, ect. Is it too late to go back?

Re:Worse Reception. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566580)

Yeah, I used to get five channels, including one public TV channel. A few of them were fuzzy, but watchable. Now, I get the public TV channels (4 of them), but only if I avoid standing in certain places in the room, or fuss with the antenna, or adjust the mini-blinds... I've lost all the others. But I get a great picture, when I get it!

Terrible for storm warnings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565990)

My OTA dtv wonks out on all channels during every thunderstorm. With analog, it would only get fuzzy right when lightning would strike. I've not heard of one tornado warning yet. *crosses finge

Re:Terrible for storm warnings (1)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566232)

I've not heard of one tornado warning yet. *crosses finge[r.]

Get an old analog set and use the Weller Method [google.com] .

(Some of the web pages I found while looking for this article indicate that it's too unreliable, but I'm amazed that [1] I remembered reading the article 40 years ago and [2] Google actually scanned it and put it online.)

Re:Terrible for storm warnings (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566582)

thanks for the link!
FYI - the Glomar Challenger and the car from "Doppleganger" also in that issue.

600 million?! (1)

Howitzer86 (964585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566070)

Digital reception is so bad here in North Little Rock that after spending up to $60, $70 dollars for increasingly weird looking antennas, I just gave up and got cable.

I never liked analog static, but digital distortion is far - far worse... and that's assuming you can get any kind of digital signal at all.

Also... 600 million?!

Re:600 million?! (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566348)

Which is your problem...

you MUST buy a outdoor antenna unless you live in a metropolis with all the TV stations within 25 miles of you.

Get the Antenna 40 feet in the air outside, out a preamp after it and a distribution amp in the house.

Oh add a rotor if you cant figure out how to stack antennas.

The places that sell that crap that sits on the TV need to be shot. those NEVER work unless you live in a big city or near the transmitter.

Re:600 million?! (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566398)

Digital reception is so bad here in North Little Rock that after spending up to $60, $70 dollars for increasingly weird looking antennas, I just gave up and got cable.

I never liked analog static, but digital distortion is far - far worse... and that's assuming you can get any kind of digital signal at all.

Yeah, I'm with you. Reception went down considerably, and I live in a large metro area (Indianapolis). The few channels I do get are riddled with artifacts, freezes, drop-outs, you-name-it.

I find that "12% got worse reception" figure to be highly suspicious. I haven't talked with one single person who doesn't have reception problems with DTV.

Foreign? Really? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566072)

You must have one *hell* of a good antenna to be able to pick up foreign programming from the USA (unless Canadian counts, to me it does not.)

Anyway, complaints are on the high side, especially for people who used to be OK with watching a half-static station. It's simply time to get a more specific antenna (since the frequencies for the new ATSC range are closer together) and a cheap amplifier (most cheap antenna kits now come with them) and see what that can do for you. I am 10 to 30 miles away from my regional stations and can get a solid signal on all of them with a cheap antenna at ground level. Add a little elevation and it should work equally well at greater distances. Elevation is key.

Re:Foreign? Really? (2, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566414)

Nope. little tiny 32" round one. Point it east towards. Telstar 12 and get a lot, I can get a crapload of FTA stuff all over the sky from a tiny little 18" dish, but I find the low end small dishes suck compared to a nice 32" one with a decent quality feedhorn.

I've even got HD MPEG4 stuff in the open.
sonicView8000HD reciever works incredibly well. and it will scan the sky for me finding all the channels.. nothing but the initial dish alignment required... the dish positioner even will self align.

Debugging problems (2, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566088)

Nobody seems to know why things go wrong anymore or how to fix them (not that anyone really knew before, other than "wiggle the antenna a bit and then stand right over there"). In my case, I get great reception on most of the channels I got before. The HDTV thinks its getting one channel that I kind of got before (shows up when I scan for channels) but it just shows a black screen for about 5 minutes before it admits that it can't find the signal (same with the subchannels). But the weirdest is one channel (and all of its subchannels) that plays audio properly, but the video plays too fast, before freezing every second or so to let the audio catch back up. No idea if its something the network is doing on its broadcast, a weird artifact of bad reception, or if my TV just isn't processing the video data right or what.

Fun with reporting of statistics (1)

dustin_0099 (877013) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566094)

x% this, y% that... "Others received better reception" With no actual number for "others" why do I suspect that % was something like .1%?

ipv6 (1)

spikenerd (642677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566108)

So, I say let's do it again with IPV6? The complications would be a little bigger. The payoff would be much bigger.

Re:ipv6 (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566266)

Really? Switching to IPv6 would let the government resell tons of radio bandwidth? It would improve the connection speed or clarity of youtube videos? Maybe HighDef internet?

No, IPv6 will allow more IPs without using workarounds like NAT. It's specifically because there isn't much improvement that nobody has really moved on it.

Major Improvement (4, Interesting)

Tau Neutrino (76206) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566116)

Comcast wanted to triple the rate to go from minimal analog to the equivalent digital offering. We said, "No thanks," and disconnected completely. Even my ten-year-old son was on board with the decision.

We watch a few shows on Hulu, get movies from the local library, and don't miss standard television at all. Much much better.

Re:Major Improvement (0, Troll)

Stele (9443) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566260)

What the heck do you talk about at the water cooler then? How many extra hyper-miles you got from your Prius on the way to work? I can smell the smug from here! :-)

I used to get 6 channels (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566122)

Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, CW, and MyTV.

Now I get Zero. I got a converter box, and it'll pick up CBS intermittently; as in I'll get one or two frames every 10 minutes. But nothing else comes in at all.

Hope it was worth giving away all the bandwidth to phone companies...

who will now use that bandwidth to forcibly stream advertisements to your "smart"phones. /remember when the FCC worked for the greater good of society?

TV, what's that? (2, Funny)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566188)

What's this "TV" thing you speak of? Oh, right: the screen for the game consoles!

Re:TV, what's that? (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566540)

It's the device you will be using to watch Futurama when it returns on June 24, 2010. :)

Doesn't apply to me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566254)

I have probably watched a total of 24 hours of tv this year. Mind you I don't even have a tv.

There are major problems with dtv (5, Informative)

Revek (133289) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566304)

I work for a small multi system cable company. We have several headends servicing small towns in south eastern Arkansas. Our primary problem is co channel. There are fewer DTV channels available so they gave out the same frequency to multiple stations. Also the range for DTV is much lower than the old VHF analog spectrum. With the old analog system Co channel was mainly a ghosting on the screen. With DTV it results in a complete loss of signal. We have tried several different types of antennas with no change in the problem. What we need to fix these problems is for the FCC to remap the frequencies they hand out to the stations. However they are not planning to do that blaming instead the cable operators for not fixing the problem.

Better Picture, Same old crap (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566306)

Now I can watch Judge Judy in HD...whoopee!

Worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566330)

ended up spending an additional 100$ even with the 2 40$ coupons

gained a bad weather channel, 25 JESUS channels, and cant watch 45 seconds of the news without the garbage freezing

next time you want to piss away hundreds of millions of dollars DO NOT INVOLVE ME, meanwhile I have 2 digital converters 4 different amplified antenna's (2 indoor 2 outdoor) all sitting in a box and have cable

just so I can watch the news

Cable Isn't Better (1)

MrTripps (1306469) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566358)

I've tried Time Warner and AT&T's U-Verse in Austin. Both suck horribly. Back to the roof antenna circa 1980.

Works great for me (1)

Animal Farm Pig (1600047) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566364)

I love the digital switch-over. I am one of those people who get better reception. Living in the middle of Sacramento, I received fuzzy, poor quality analog TV. Digital has been flawless on all channels. I also get more channels-- including 3 from PBS. That's with a small set of rabbit-ears sitting on top of my TV.

Lost all but two channels (1)

lou2ser (458778) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566428)

I don't live in the middle of nowhere, I live in a small college town with a population of 113,000. We used to sorta get 8 or 9 channels but since the switch-over we're down to 2 channels. The signals from Atlanta don't reach us unless I bought a fancy attic antennae.

Now, instead of watching OTA TV we turn on the Boxee and watch whatever I've downloaded.

Still Analog here (1)

certsoft (442059) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566432)

We just have a PBS translator and a begging for jebus channel. Oregon Public Broadcasting has only converted a small number of their 40 translators throughout the state. In the case of my area they also have to move their intermediate links from 800 to 2000 Mhz, so it could be years.

Total joke (1)

DrJimbo (594231) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566472)

The stated purpose of the mandatory conversion was to get better service to outlying rural areas. Of course this was a total joke. It is the outlying rural areas that got much worse service as a result of the conversion. In my area three stations converted and three did not. When I still had the tv, I had to get up and swap cables to change channels. A neighbor tells me that with a fancy outdoor antenna he can still get PBS (which converted) but I've never been able to get it.

Mission Accomplished... (1)

tunapez (1161697) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566478)

Retailers saw this as an opportunity to sell new HDTVs and 46 million converter boxes.

Nevermind the channels that once came in(less than perfect) that now do not at all. I've got all the time in the world for those pregnant pauses that makes flipping through channels a slow, laborious game of 'wait & see'. Please lock the cat outside during Survivor Bachelor's Got Talent, wouldn't want her walking to the food bowl and dragging the signal below acceptable display threshold when someone's about to win something for nothing!

Sure the solution is to pay more for a monthly service. Even if paying to watch advertisements and shitty reruns is anathema, like the famous commercial/mantra says, "just do it".

We can always pay more for less in the good ol' USA, land of the fee.

And yet there's money to be made... (4, Informative)

lurking_giant (1087199) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566536)

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported on May 31st that http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20100531/NEWS01/6010323/Forger-s-company-got-562K-stimulus-contract/ [cincinnati.com] a local company, Tekreation Center LLC, recieved $562K in federal stimulus money to provide installation demonstration services to those who needed help getting the converter boxes to work. Demonstrations! Not actual installations. Tekreation reportedly performed 1,453 demonstrations for installing a digital-to-analog converter. $562,000/1453=$386.79 per demo. The could have bought a decent digital TV for that price. Another massive waste of your tax dollars.

Poll Sample: 200 visitors to an uncommon web site (1)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566562)

Cue the beeping sound of the trash truck dumping out these poll "results"...

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