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423 comments

FP FP! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12775766)

FP you muthas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

some text to bypass the bogosity filter. This is a real post. Yup.,

When this standard is apparently so bad (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12775769)

that even governmental interference can't get it accepted, something is very wrong.

I never did understand... (4, Interesting)

leeharris100 (890639) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775773)

I still don't understand why the FCC feels like they need to interfere with the standards of television. Can someone please explain why this is a necessity?

Re:I never did understand... (5, Insightful)

cazbar (582875) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775822)

The switch of television to digital has an advantage that is very much in the interests of the FCC. When television goes digital, not as many frequences have to be reserved for television. The freed up frequences can be reserved for other purposes or even remain unregulated for anybody to use.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Re:I never did understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12776036)

Sounds like a good idea to me.
Having every analog TV set in the country abruptly become effectively useless without a digital tuner/decoder box seems like a good idea to you?

Re:I never did understand... (2, Interesting)

Armadni General (869957) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776069)

Yes. If that's how it needs to be done, that's how it'll be done. The benefits of turning it 100% digital far outweigh the costs of doing such.

It's good that they're speeding this up and staying hard on it. If they don't, we'll just keep saying "give it a little more time, give it a little more time," until Kingdom come.

Re:I never did understand... (1)

toddbu (748790) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776074)

I agree that this is a good idea because there's only a limited amount of RF spectrum and TV eats up a big chunk that could be put to better use. What I'm concerned about is the apparent lack of options for those of us who have lots of TVs but none that are digital. I have to replace 4 TVs, even though one is virtually brand new and the others are still going strong. That doesn't count the tuners in my 3 VCRs that will be worthless too. What I'd like to see is a transverter box of some kind that I can hang off my antenna that will shift the frequencies received back into the normal TV band and convert from digital to analog (which would technically not make it a transverter, but you get my drift). Has anyone seen anything like this on the market?

Re:I never did understand... (5, Insightful)

satanami69 (209636) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776089)

Quick history. When the analog space is freed and available from the conversion to digital, that space will then be auctioned off, most likely to closed bid communications companies.

The gov is fine with this since the money is earmarked to pay off the deficit. In reality, buying an HDTV has the positive side effect of lowering the national debt. It's a very good plan, if you don't mind being used for high level money making.

Re:I never did understand... (5, Insightful)

e9th (652576) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775833)

Well, we wouldn't have UHF stations (maybe that's good, maybe not) or closed-captioning (which I use a lot, even thought I'm not deaf) unless their inclusion in new TVs hadn't been mandated.

Re:I never did understand... (1)

N3Roaster (888781) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775910)

Closed captioning is mandated? Wow! My television must really be out of date.

And I'm not replacing it until it dies.

Re:I never did understand... (5, Informative)

silverkniveshotmail. (713965) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776007)

All TV's with screens 13 inches or larger in the united states sold after 1993 are required to have a closed caption decoder.

Re:I never did understand... (2, Insightful)

Approaching.sanity (889047) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775860)

Money.

They want to sell the signals that are currently being used for broadcasting and they are going to do so in the name of digital progress.

Now if you don't mind I have about 300 shows to watch right now.

Re:I never did understand... (3, Funny)

mcc (14761) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775861)

Because that is their job.

From fcc.gov:

The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.

The FCC is charged with regulating who may broadcast and receive to and from the electromagnetic spectrum, an inherently public resource. Some of these bands they regulate more strictly than others. One of the bands they regulate strictly is the one on which television signals are broadcast and received. As part of this the FCC defines what are the standards of televisions.

Well, that's all for this week. Be sure to tune in next time on "fun questions from slashdotters", when a Libertarian playing dumb will want to know why the Department of Education feels like it has to keep getting itself involved with the schools

Re:I never did understand... (2, Insightful)

thebatlab (468898) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775917)

But...but..the free...free market...it...it...should be...free?

Screw it, I'm going to Starbucks to have a triple-latte and complain about the deforestation. That's where they like...chop down trees for no reason...right?

Re:I never did understand... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12775884)

Because the TV stations want the FCC, in fact they demand it. They demand that you and I don't broadcast on their frequency. They want the FCC to FORCE us not to.

In exchange for FORCING the public into following the TV broadcaster's desires the FCC also FORCES the broadcasters to follow our collective desires...

Or did you think it was a lucky coincidence that only one person broadcasts on a TV frequency at a time in any given area?

Re:I never did understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12775915)

He probably did think it was a lucky coincidence. Probably figures that if nobody was around to force people not to interfere with certain frequencies, that everyone would sit around, smoke weed n shit and be a big happy family and let each other broadcast in peace.

Group hug, leeharris! Group hug, man.

Re:I never did understand... (1)

WAR-Ink (876414) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775901)

Without the FCC, there would be no standards of television. For example... [wikipedia.org]

There would just be a bunch of squabbling, propriitary (Blu-ray and HD-DVD) standards out there (Standard gauge and narrow gauge) that are just about the same damn thing, but don't really work (Unix and Windows) together.

So give those hard working federal employees a break...

Re:I never did understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12775903)

This is retarded! How can they say that TV's _MUST_ accept digital content? Fucking assholes...

Re:I never did understand... (1)

Kenrod (188428) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776037)


The government can regulate interstate commerce.

I don's see why you're shocked, the govt regulates almost all products. Safety standards for toys and automobiles, black boxes in airplanes, food labling, lead content, "made in the USA" requirements for automobiles, assault weapon bans, decency rules for broadcasters, etc, etc, etc...Anything they can justify being for the common good can and will be done!

Re:I never did understand... (1)

Armadni General (869957) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776100)

This is retarded! How can a stupid teenager manage to figure out the Internet enough to find Slashdot and stuff comment pages with his equally retarded, completely asinine, drivel!

Re:I never did understand... (2, Informative)

Detritus (11846) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775912)

Television. at least in the United States, is a huge spectrum hog. The UHF TV band used to suck up everything from 470 MHz to 890 MHz. The FCC created the 800 MHz cellular and two-way radio bands by chopping off the top of the UHF TV band.

Re:I never did understand... (2, Insightful)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775944)


The FCC is the Federal Communications Commission. They are in charge of _everything_ that passes over the air waves. The advent of digital television will clear up many of the airwave bands.

Its progress, you've got to have progress!

Re:I never did understand... (1)

wyldeone (785673) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776005)

Because analog television is extremely wasteful of the EM spectrum. With digital, the fcc can start getting back some of the spectrum that they have leased, and it can be used for something more productive.

Re:I never did understand... (1)

viva_fourier (232973) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776021)

Well, the current broadcast NTSC video signal, in terms of quality, is crap. Ever notice how the purples and reds on your broadcast tv signal just don't-quite-look-right and seem to bleed across the tv screen?

The colorspace used in the NTSC is YIQ (luminance hue saturation) and is nice because one can get grayscale info from just the Y portion. This means the same signal can be used for black and white tv's. Unfortunately, the color representation is severely lacking.

HDTV uses YCbCr (luminance, blue-difference, red-difference) which provides better color, but requires different channel structuring.

Re:I never did understand... (2, Informative)

swschrad (312009) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776043)

long answer... uh, because it is the FCCs job, and they manage all airwaves in the US per the Communications Act of 1931 and 1939, as amemded.

besides, they want the VHF airwaves to about 180 MHz (in the neighborhood, but I'm not close to a spectrum map right now) for public service and cellphones, so to keep a live media out there with local service, considered critical for national security, they have to trade broadcasting up to channels 14 and above to approximately 49.

it all converged, and we have HDTV. a digital system, unlike the analog one japan perfected and was ready to sell to us lock, stock, and barrel at a per-device price. as it turns out, a better system. but with the crummy economy, the color programs/color TV sales issue has come alive again, and the critical mass of TVs has not arrived to hand back the analog channels and turn off those transmitters.

there were whiners who wanted congress to delay the shutoff date. the FCC has trumped that with their announcement of the final dates, which has been expected, but is a little sooner than the last date in congressional enabling legislation.

short answer:... because, now buy something and stop complaining.

Intelligent programming? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12775775)

Never happen.

Re:Intelligent programming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12776035)

"Don't you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There's one marked 'Brightness', but it doesn't work." --Gallagher

Faster (4, Interesting)

mboverload (657893) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775783)

I hope they also mandated them to include metadata in their broadcasts.

If you dont know digital sets are able to recieve special content like the name of the program all off the air.

"off the air"? (0, Flamebait)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775814)

Does that mean it dials up some service provider and gets it through the phone line instead?

Or do you just mean on an alternate signal channel?

Re:"off the air"? (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775842)

All off the air. My set has a special digital channel browser that shows me the name and a description. It's really cool. From what I know the digital "protocol" allows for losts of different data to be sent witt the signal.

Re:"off the air"? (1)

beerman2k (521609) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775857)

Does that mean it dials up some service provider and gets it through the phone line instead? Or do you just mean on an alternate signal channel?

Actually, what he meant is that you're a moron.

Re:"off the air"? (1)

mcc (14761) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775928)

off
prep.
2. With the means provided by: living off my pension.
3. Informal. From: "What else do you want off me?" (Jimmy Breslin).
4. Extending or branching out from: an artery off the heart.

-- dictionary.com

Re:Faster (1)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775940)

My current analog television can do that too. It often says the wrong program name, but that's probably because the clock is set incorrectly (stupid power outages).

breasts? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12775786)

boobies!!!!!

Say goodbye to $200 32" sets (5, Insightful)

mconeone (765767) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775791)

This is going to hurt America's poor the most.

Re:Say goodbye to $200 32" sets (5, Funny)

viva_fourier (232973) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775817)

Good, maybe they can get off their lazy good-for-nothin' keesters and get a job!

Now go mow the lawn!

Re:Say goodbye to $200 32" sets (1)

viva_fourier (232973) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775871)

Troll??!? Awe come on, it's a *joke* people.

1. Locate sphincter.
2. Remove head.
3. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Re:Say goodbye to $200 32" sets (2, Informative)

viva_fourier (232973) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775883)

Seriously, I doubt it. A digital tuner can be added to an existing analog tv set.

Re:Say goodbye to $200 32" sets (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775891)

This is going to hurt America's poor the most.

Yeah, once they get hooked on just how good HDTV looks, their kids will have even less reason to get off the sofa and get some exercise.

Seriously, it is entirely reasonable to think that this requirement will actiually lower the price of televisions due to economies of scale. Once implemented, all tv's 25" and up will have digital tuners which probably means an order of magnitude more combo analog-digital tuner chipsets being produced which should lead to a significant per-unit cost of perduction (amortization of R&D and cheaper component pricing due to bulk purchasing).

Re:Say goodbye to $200 32" sets (3, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775952)

This has nothing to do with HDTV, but standard resolution digital signals.

I should reiterate, since /.ers don't seem to understand this. THE FCC IS NOT MANDATING OR FORCING ANYONE TO SWITCH TO HDTV.

A digital tuner is cheaper than an analog one. Once the analog yoke is thrown completely, it should shave a few bucks off production costs, and since there's healthy competition in the field, it should translate to lower prices on the shelves.

Re:Say goodbye to $200 32" sets (0)

thebatlab (468898) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775898)

Every technological advancement will hurt the poor the most. We can cry all day about it if we want but that's the way it is. New stuff == more expensive. In time, prices will come down and $200 TVs will be sitting on the shelves just begging to be bought.

Re:Say goodbye to $200 32" sets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12775936)

Not to be inflammatory, but HOW THE FUCK is not having a new 32" TV going to "hurt" the poor?

Get a fucking grip - go to Africa and see people who dying of curable diseases because they can't afford appropriate nourishment or medicines. Then you can talk about the poor being hurt.

Americans always seem to talk about TV as if it is some fundamental human right.

Re:Say goodbye to $200 32" sets (1, Flamebait)

WAR-Ink (876414) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775963)

Maybe they should get off their, beer drinking, television watching, welfare check cashing asses and get a job?

Re:Say goodbye to $200 32" sets (1, Troll)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775964)


It sucks that poor people can't afford 32" TV sets.

I make more than an average US salary, and it was a big deal for me to plop down $1,600 for my 43" HDTV a while back.

WTF? Poor people get shit on all the time. That is what they are there for.

Re:Say goodbye to $200 32" sets (1)

heli0 (659560) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775968)

This is the same nonsense we heard when Clinton put V-Chips in every TV.

External HDTV tuners are $50 today so what will the price be when they produce them by the millions? $20? $2?

Re:Say goodbye to $200 32" sets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12775983)

One could say that 32" TV sets shouldn't really be the poor's highest priority.

Oh right, America. Forgot.

Re:Say goodbye to $200 32" sets (1)

spudchucker (680073) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776000)

Whatever - Hurt? The last thing the world needs are unmotivated poor people watching tv and living off the efforts of others.

Re:Say goodbye to $200 32" sets (2, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776006)

Not really. It is going to hurt the advertisers that depend on that particular demographic for income. As much as we wish to insult these people, which make up a significant percentage of the country, and who spend most of the money on goods and services, corporate Amercian would be up sht creek with a sht paddle, as the boys would say.

Not to sound too crazy, but TV is the primary means that corporate American and the government has to communicate with the people at the lower 50% of the money chain. When these people stop watching TV, it will mean the end of the America we know.

Re:Say goodbye to $200 32" sets (1, Flamebait)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776077)

This is going to hurt America's poor the most.

Wow. The TV industry has got you hook-line-and sinker, huh? Scary to see what good marketing can do. Here's a bit of re-education for you: TV is not an essential component of live. My girlfriend and I have been TV-free for several years now, and we're much better because of it. We're poor. We save lots of money not paying for advertising, and we have time to do things that are important to us. But more importantly:

NOBODY is ENTITLED to a cheap TV any more than anybody is ENTITLED to have a cheap Ferrari.

Year? HDTV Info (4, Informative)

thebatlab (468898) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775801)

Well, it wasn't clear from the article but from some reading I assume they mean March 1...2006. Yeah sure, may seem obvious to some but a date with no year can mean many things.

While trying to confirm that I found an interesting page:
http://www.hdtv.net/faq.htm [hdtv.net]

Does anyone know the stats on how many stations are digital?

Re:Year? HDTV Info (2, Informative)

Chuck_McDevitt (665265) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775869)

Somewhere around 1500 stations (almost all stations in the bigger markets) broadcast digitally as well as analog. Here in San Francisco bay area, we get CBS,ABC,NBC,PBS,WB,UPN,FOX,UNI,SAH,TEL,PAX networks and a few independants. Few know about it though.

Re:Year? HDTV Info (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775995)

One problem is that many stations are on the air, but running at low power. One local station has 4 MW ERP on their analog channel and 1 kW ERP on their digital channel.

Re:Year? HDTV Info (3, Informative)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775906)

I also found this link at GoodGuys to be pretty informative:

http://goodguys.com/hdtv_faq.asp [goodguys.com]

Now, these are both Pro-DTV sites.

What I'm also looking for are criticisms of DTV-- other then the obvious arguments about DTV being expensive.

Re:Year? HDTV Info (1)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775974)

I've heard about ghosting problems. [wired.com]
That article does state that it's only a problem in big cities, and that better receivers are starting to help, though.

Re:Year? HDTV Info (1)

KeithIrwin (243301) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776080)

All of them are digital.

There are a few which have special temporary wavers to not broadcast digitally for a little bit due to economic hardship or something.

And as mentioned elsewhere, there are also some stations which are broadcasting digital signals much weaker than their analog ones since a full powered broadcast is quite expensive. This will likely change once more people have digital tuners.

Keith Irwin

90+ percent of markets Re:Year? HDTV Info (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776086)

only some little markets, and some few stations in larger markets, do NOT have active CPs or transmitters already. most of the delay is no-money situations, probably among tiniest markets and some educational stations, and no-tower situations, because DTV antenna farms are somewhat more elaborate (heavy and wind-loading) and almost all commercial TV towers were at design limits for hanging antennas. HDTV has been a boon to tower companies, and they have been the real limiting factor in conversions among stations that were ready to finance and build.

the likelihood is that if you live within 40 miles of a TV station, you could pick it up digital right now with an external antenna on its new frequency. call your local station of choice and ask 'em what the DTV channel is and whether they're on now.

Powell's power move (2, Interesting)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775813)

The Bush administration is re-organizing its cabinet departments and Powell would make a good candidate for the deputy secretary post in the Commerce Department. However, he needs the Digital TV vote to leave the agency on a good note. The FCC's new plan would set a firm deadline of 2009. Regardless of how many residents have Digital TVs, local broadcasters would be forced to switch all signals from analog to digital. To ensure that Americans would not lose their TV signals, the federal government would launch an educational campaign on the benefits -- and necessity -- of going digital. In addition, Congress would likely approve subsidies for low-income residents who can not afford to buy a new set. They could use the subsidies to either buy a new TV or get a converter box that would transfer digital signals so they could be watched on an analog set.

Re:Powell's power move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12775904)

Powell's already gone ...

Re:Powell's power move (5, Insightful)

mattdm (1931) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775950)

In addition, Congress would likely approve subsidies for low-income residents who can not afford to buy a new set.

I hope to goodness you're kidding. How about some subsidies for education or housing instead?

Not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12775980)

Powell's dad was calling Senators and attacking John Bolton, the administration's nominee for the US Ambassador to the UN.

Bush isn't going to be doing any favors for Michael Powell anytime soon.

Subsidy would do more harm than good! (1)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775981)

>>Congress would likely approve subsidies for low-income residents who can not afford to buy a new set. They could use the subsidies to either buy a new TV or get a converter box that would transfer digital signals so they could be watched on an analog set.

Oh God, you're probably right. Just what America's poor needs -- more mind-numbing television. A quick review of over-the-air broadcasting during the hours of 9-5 (e.g. "work hours") leads me to think the poor would be better of WITHOUT television. I mean, how the hell does Judge Joe Brown, wall-to-wall adverts. for trial lawyers, that trashy dating program, soap operas, and/or the Home Shopping Network benefit anyone?

Surely I'm not the only one who believes they'd be better off if the damned box went black and they were forced to pick up a book.

What percentage does the switchover apply to? (3, Interesting)

MDMurphy (208495) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775837)

If you believe the 90% number for cable/satellite homes, then only 10% get their TV over the air. I get mine via DirecTV, so a switch in the local stations won't affect my home TVs at all, just the little Sony LCD one I have. Cable TV doesn't have to switch over then either.

So of the 10% getting their television over the air, I'd sure guess that a large percentage who aren't interested in cable or satellite also aren't buying new fancy TVs every couple of years. Their choices are probably going to be buy a new TV or switch to satellite or cable and continue to use their old TV.

So is it only a portion of the 10% that would be affected when the big switch happens?

Re:What percentage does the switchover apply to? (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775972)

Their choices are probably going to be buy a new TV or switch to satellite or cable and continue to use their old TV.

Or to get a converter box. I've been watching digital TV for well over a year now using a tuner box. There's some talk about subsidized converter boxes, but right now one can set you back $200-$400. And it's not always easy to find one, because the big box electronics stores would rather sell you a subscription to satellite TV.

Re:What percentage does the switchover apply to? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12775975)

Or, they could buy a nice, cheap $20 digital-to-analog adapter and, for less than the price of a single month of cable/satelite, and much less than the cost of a TV, they be able to continue being couch potatoes.

Re:What percentage does the switchover apply to? (1)

N3Roaster (888781) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776019)

Well, as a member of the 10% that isn't interested in paying for television (that's what the advertisers are there for), if the one channel that my antenna picks up reliably (whichever one that is this week...) that isn't shop at home goes away I'm still not buying a new television (unless my old one dies or is stolen) or switching to pay television. At that point, the television will be a movie/console game display and I'll have to get the weather forecast from the newspaper or online.

It's so sad. I remember when my television could pick up 8 or 9 channels. The stations are still there...

Re:What percentage does the switchover apply to? (1)

dubdays (410710) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776056)

Cable TV doesn't have to switch over then either.

I don't think that's entirely accurate. Many people who do use cable only have the "basic" version for stuff like weather, news, some sports, and the broadcast channels (so they don't have to deal with antennae). Basic cable, for the most part, is analog. So, those with basic service would need a converter/new set, too.

Re:What percentage does the switchover apply to? (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776119)

Not if the cable company demodulates the ATSC video and remodulates it as NTSC for the cable system. That's what many cable system do today.

In the long run, the cable companies are planning to eliminate all of the analog channels.

Re:What percentage does the switchover apply to? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776064)

Where'd you get this 90% number?

It sounds like complete horseshit to me.

Even of those with digital cable or satellite, only have it on one set, not wanting to pay an extra $20 monthly fee for the little 5" in the laundry room, kids rooms, etc.

The switch to OTA digital could really kick the cable providers in the nuts, reception is a big reason to have cable in the first place, and with digital broadcasts, no more snow or ghosting. There'll be more space available, so you might even see some of the cable networks switch to OTA, which would be the best possible outcome, as I see it.

Please please (4, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775839)

Now if they just mandate more intelligent programming.

Anything but that! Programming is none of their business. You should know that by now. Especially after the "Janet" thing. Technical standards are the only thing theFCC should be messing with.

My requirements before I buy a (H)DTV (5, Insightful)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775843)

11 years ago, I bought a 21" Television for $250 and some rabbit ears for $15. This setup has worked for me for the last 11 years. The visual quality isn't as good as your $2000 setup, but it's good enough for me, my wife & our friends.

If the FCC really wants me to switch to the new Digital TV, I figure I should be able to get an equivilant system for an equivilant price.

I'm willing to update if I get something better, I'm NOT going to pay a ton of money just so that I can get the same service with more pixels.

My requirements before I buy a new digital television:

  1. Price around $250
  2. Can receive free on-air broadcasts with a $15 antenna.
  3. Works with my existing A/V equipment.
  4. 21" screen
  5. Would be nice to have a TV that properly shows the 16:9 ratio. I'll pay an extra $50-100 for this feature.
  6. Lasts 11 years without a single problem


If I can't get this, I don't see why I should switch. Why should I pay more for less?

Re:My requirements before I buy a (H)DTV (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775864)

No way any of the new digital sets will last you 11 years.

I spent the good money on my HDTV and they say it will only last a few years before it burns out or something :(

Re:My requirements before I buy a (H)DTV (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775933)

A conventional CRT will give you about 8000 hours before it starts to flake up, burn-in, weak heaters, etc. A trinitron tube (or clone thereof, the patent has expired, everyone makes them now) should last even longer, on paper.

It's all about the picture tube. The chassis and tuner can be replaced or repaired relatively cheaply. Just because we've been conditioned to think "aww what a hassle, I'll just throw it out", doesn't mean we have to.

Of course, thanks to all those folks who throw out 13" through 25" sets, because it keeps me in good supply of donor tubes for my arcade cabinets. The 2001N in my Playchoice cab is 22 years old, yet crisper and with brighter colors than any old TV (of course they run on true RGB)

Digital doesn't change that. It helps it, in fact, discrete components generally outlast analog ones.

Plasma/LCD/OLED and all these other technologies, they're basically disposable. The industries wet dream: people buying $5000 sets they'll have to throw out in a couple of years.

BTW, this has nothing to do with HDTV, but 480i, the digital equivelant of NTSC composite video.

Re:My requirements before I buy a (H)DTV (1)

leeharris100 (890639) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776002)

Plasma TVs now have a lifetime of around 50,000 hours. That means if you had your TV on for every minute of every hour of every year, it would last over 5 and a half years. For the average user, it would last over 35 years. Same with LCD, except the average lifetime is around 30,000 hours. And $5000 sets? Consumer Plasma and LCD TVs are in the $2000-$3000 range.

Re:My requirements before I buy a (H)DTV (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776109)

I was short a 0. I meant 80000. Most mfgs quote a MTBF of 50-60000, but if you take care of it and don't abuse it (ie, crank the contrast and brightness on full then pause your atari 2600 and go on vacation for a month), it should last even longer.

And a $2000 plasma is a low-end POS and you know it.

Re:My requirements before I buy a (H)DTV (1)

Chuck_McDevitt (665265) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775939)

Why do you think so? CRTs and LCDs last a long time, and we aren't changing the standard again anytime soon. Maybe you bought junk?

Re:My requirements before I buy a (H)DTV (1)

Chuck_McDevitt (665265) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775913)

Why do you think it would be more for less? Sure, it costs more, but the picture and sound are much better. But the real question is, what will you do when the TV networks shut off analog broadcasts? Your TV won't receive anything over-the-air at that point. For people like you, who bought their set so long ago, it's not so terrible to upgrade. The point of the new regulation is so people who buy TVs next year don't find them obsolete two years later.

Re:My requirements before I buy a (H)DTV (1)

sdhankin (213671) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775945)

If I can't get this, I don't see why I should switch. Why should I pay more for less?
Well, the main reason you should switch is that your old set won't work any more after transmissions become digital. At the very least, you'll need to come up with a converter box.

So for another $100-200 (who knows, really?) you'll have exactly what you have now. Or you can choose to pay nothing. But then you will have a non-functional TV. Is that more or less than you have now?

Close (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12776030)

The FCC is mandating Digital TV, not High Definition TV. Sure, most providers are using the opportunity to go HD, but it isn't required.

The cost of adding an ATSC tuner to your TV won't be much once the mass market kicks in. I use a $30 Radio Shack antenna to pull in dozens of DTV programs, some in HD, most in SD, and even the SD is better than the analog version. Plus there are more programs; one local PBS station carries 4 SD programs on their DTV channel, as opposed to one on their analog channel. One HD and one SD is a more common mix.

The pc-hd3000 card I'm using was less than $200, so the cost of the tuner is obviously less than that. I expect tuner costs to drop quite a bit more. You may be able to buy a (S)DTV for your budget soon. There's no point to HD on such a small screen, though.

Focus on Digital, not High Definition. Everyone wins with digital. The higher resolution of HD is beneficial only at larger screen sizes - and it's great, there. I bought a 47" CRT RP for $800, and thought that was a reasonable value.

People *are* paying stupid amounts of money for thin screens, but that's not really what the FCC is pushing. Thin is expensive, digital is not.

The price should come down over time (2, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776068)

The pricing situation is a bit tricky. Right now the equipment is pricey because relatively few people want to spend money on it. As you say, existing TV is good enough for most people. (Especially since most people get their TV over cable or satellite and therefore this won't help them, but I'll get to that in a minute.)

The FCC is hoping to tell everybody, "Look, we're going to DTV, start making it," which should drop the price to the point where an adapter for your existing TV is $50. (The manufacturers keep claiming it's going to add $100 to the price of a new TV; that figure seems bogus to me. It's basically a bottom-of-the-line video card.) Remember that the FCC doesn't really give a rat's ass about the quality of your picture; they want you to switch so that they can reclaim the bandwidth.

In the end a DTV will cost more than an equivalent analog TV, because they're compressing the signal more and you need more sophisticated equipment to read it. That's what lets them reclaim the valuable bandwidth, and pass the cost on to you. The carrot is better reception, better resolution, and the 16:9 ratio, as well as a few other fancy digital features. (You'll pay more for a 16:9 TV, too.) But that's just the incentive, not the reason.

You're not paying more for less; you're paying more for more. That sucks, since you'll see the benefits only very indirectly (the new wi-fi and cell services that will gradually take over the old TV bandwidth).

But if you're unwilling to pay for it, eventually you're gonna lose. They're taking your analog signal, and you're free to stare at your old TV from 8 PM to 11:30 PM every night, but there won't be anything on except static.

Fortunately, instead of buying a new $300 TV, you'll be able to by an adapter, which right now costs $150 but will hopefully be closer to $50 by the time this is done. That's why the FCC is pushing the switch: there will be a lot of people in your position, wanting to adapt their old TV to the new signal, which should make for cheap adapters. It won't happen until the cutover gets near, in 2008.

As far as I can tell the ones who really get screwed are the cable/satellite viewers, who never really use the tuner in their TV set. And that's 90% of everybody. They use the tuner in an external box, which they usually rent from the cable/satellite company for around $5 per month or pay $100 to $200 for.

I'd like to see them start selling $200 21" TVs with no tuner in them at all, for those people. I dunno if that'll happen or not.

The free market (1)

Husgaard (858362) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775868)

Instead of trying to impose regulations, why not just let the free market decide?

Re:The free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12775911)

... because the free market will probably nickel and dime us to death until they suck all of the pennies out of us .. then make something new ... ahhh, the circle.

Re:The free market (1)

jimi the hippie (725322) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775919)

Haven't you heard? There is no free market anymore. The US government thinks that the world would suddenly explode without their regulations and subsidies. It seemed to go just fine for the first 100-130 years of the nation, but they're not too great with studying history.

Re:The free market (1)

Manchot (847225) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775994)

Actually, it didn't go "just fine" for the first 100-130 years. The country would experience cycles of prosperity interlaced with terrible panics, where the bottom of many markets would completely fall out. (They were magnitudes worse than our modern recessions.) The period of these boom and bust cycles was about 20 years, and they finally culminated in the Roaring Twenties and Great Depression. The New Deal played a large part in smoothing them out.

Re:The free market (1)

ThogScully (589935) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775923)

Apparently because it's not deciding fast enough... those that fill the pockets of the FCC have convinced them it needs a push.
-N

Re:The free market (2, Insightful)

eobanb (823187) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775942)

Because sometimes the free market doesn't work speedily in the interests of the consumer and common good, you asshat. This is why there are pollution regulations, automobile crash tests, minimum wages, and class-action lawsuits.

Re:The free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12775988)

because the market is not free. this whole hdtv scheme is designed to lock in big broadcasters, bankrupt or otherwise force divestiture for small ones and raise or eliminate the bar for new entry into tv broadcasting.

at least the technology does offer significant advances in terms of resolution and services unlike IBOC digital radio. but with fewer players, the content is likely to suffer more than presently which is a much more significant issue IMHO than better resolution on the screen and surround sound.

then there's the huge mandated windfall this creates for the CEMA members.

the best congress money can buy...

Re:The free market (1)

cranos (592602) | more than 8 years ago | (#12775992)

Because the "Free Market" works great until you add people to the mix. For exactly the same reason why Communism doesn't work, pure Capitalism will not work, basically people are bastards.

Glad it's still in the future -- just bought cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12775921)

I have to say that I'm glad this rule isn't in effect now.

I just bought a Sanyo 24" set with a flat screen and stereo for $178. I had to buy now, because my old set died.

I would have preferred to go with HDTV, but my DVR doesn't support it, and it would have cost me at least 3x as much.

Cable will support my analog set for a long time, and by the time this set dies, the HDTVs will be super-cheap.

Oddly enough, the thing that makes me want HDTV more than anything are files from bittorrent sites that were capped from digital sources. They definitely look a lot better.

Gee, 4 months earlier... (1)

zurtle (785688) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776029)

So some company in the backpocket of these blokes on the FCC has come up with a product ahead of their competitors:

Who wants to bet that this has been brought forward by 4 months to allow this company to grab market share?

Intelligent Programming (5, Funny)

craXORjack (726120) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776051)

Now if they just mandate more intelligent programming.

I don't know. I'm worried that televisions will get too intelligent in the future. I have a recurring dream that I am watching my new LCD "Buck Rogers in the 21st Century" TV and a commercial comes on, so I get up to make a sandwich but as soon as I start to leave-- the show comes back on. Then when I sit back down to watch it the commercial comes back. Every time I try to get up this happens again. So I give in and run to the kitchen while my show is on. But it's a dream so, you know, I'm always running in slow motion. Finally I make it and I can hear my show in the other room while I spread peanut butter and jelly on two slices of bread. It sounds really good. I can tell from the laughtrack that I'm missing some really funny shit. I literally throw the knife in the sink from four feet away and run as fast as I can to the couch. My show is still on. I made it. My butt touches the couch cushion as I take a bite of my sandwich and fix my eyes on the screen... just in time to see the commercial.

Which is it? (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#12776113)

I'm recalling the situation about the broadcast flag for digital TV and how a judge ruled that the FCC doesn't have the power to mandate such a thing because it's hardware.

Now we have the FCC mandating that TVs must provide digital reception as well as analog. What am I missing here?

I can't say I disagree with either decision, but there seems to be some level of conflict between the two activities here.
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