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Usa - Digital Tv Converter Boxes

petef

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#1
For folks in the USA,
Two important dates to remember 1/1/2008 and 2/17/2009 .

Starting 1/1/2008 US citizens will be able to obtain two $40 coupons
per household to be used for the purchase of two Digital TV Converter
boxes. These converter boxes will be needed to receive the new digital
TV signals that are already being broadcast in most areas. You only
need a converter box if you have an older TV that does not have the
a digital tuner (ATSC tuner) .

In the USA, by 2/17/2009, all over the air TV broadcasters are required to
abandon the old "analog" signals and switch to the new "digital" signals.
This means that you won't be able to use your old TV antenna and TV to
receive free over the air TV unless you purchase a Digital TV Converter box.

To read more about it, see the Digital TV Answers website...
DTV Answers : What you need to know about the February 17, 2009 switch to DTV.

If you curently own have a newer TV, check to see if it has
a built-in Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) tuner.
If it does, you won't need a Digital TV Converter box to receive
the new digital signal.

This new digital TV is most beneficial to people who want FREE TV
because the picture quality will be perfect, with no snow. Snowy
pictures were usually the case with the old analog TV signal.
For people who are only interested in watching local TV and
network TV, they can cancel their cable TV and go totally FREE.

---pete---
 
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petef

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#2
Ok the next step is obtaining a coupon from the government and
buyng a converter box. I already located a RadioShack site that
sells the boxes and has reviews by people who have tried them.
See the reviews by people who bought and installed the converter boxes.
RadioShack.com - Home Entertainment: Accessories: Video accessories: Converters: Digital Stream DTX9900 Digital- to-Analog Converter Box


Comparison of CECB units
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This page contains general information about the
Coupon-Eligible Converter Box units in table form.
Comparison of CECB units - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I'm located between NEW YORK CITY and PHILIDELPHIA so I may be able
to receive free digital TV from both broadcasting areas. Not only do I need
a converter box but I also need a new antenna. I believe all these new
digital TV signal are broadcast in the UHF band, so I need to buy a high
gain UHF antenna and possibly a mast mounted preamp to pull in the
NY area channels. Actually I'll need 2 antennas, one pointed towards NY
and one towards Philidelphia.

Anyone here have any experience with these digital converter boxes?

---pete---
 
W

Wolfeymole

#3
We have been using FreeView Boxes for quite some time now and I'm unsure if the UK government will adopt the same policy of which you speak Pete.

We have been getting advertisements stating that the analogue service will be switched off in 2010 I think it is, so I think they are just hoping we will all have a box by then.
 

RandyL

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#4
Yes pete the day of reckoning is near. As I understand it if we have cable or sattelite then my old TV's will be ok. Only broadcast TV will be affected.

I just hope I don't get any surprises like needing to use my cable TV's box.
I don't use it now because I don't need too.
That would mess up my configuration of vcr's and TV's etc.

That's right I have a lot of old school technology that I don't want to replace as long as I can. Stuff costs money.

But you're right. This is a major change for millions of people and I'm sure there will be unforeseen things. I hope everyone is prepared and gets those converters that needs them. It can't be said enough.

Those that will be most affected are the poorest who only have broadcast TV. So the coupons will help offset the cost.

I'm sure there are many like me and others too so help us keep informed as I know there will be issues. I hate change. ha ha.
 

Tony D

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#5
I received my $40 coupons and purchased a converter yesterday. I think the digital TV looks 'cold' - like when we switched from LP's to CD's. I bellieve I can see the digitalization. The sound is better than analog.

A big distractor is low signal stations. I was watching a baseball game on Philly 57 yesterday. With the analog signal, the screen was only a little snowy - actually I didn't realize that it was snowy until I looked at it carefully. Why did I look at it so carefully? Because while I was viewing the game with my digital converter, the sound kept cutting out and the video would stop or have digital blotches. So bad that I had to switch back to the analog signal.
 

RandyL

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#6
I don't know anything much about this yet but I'll bet we all will on the conversion date. Kelly that doesn't sound good. Sounds like there will be issues and a lot of angry people.

LP's to CD's. Only us old timers know about that. The sound is definitely different on long playing records versus compact disks. I like to call it tinny.

Like I said I think there will be issues. Keep us informed.
 

shrimply

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#7
Well, I'm the Scottish Borders, which is supposed to be first for the switch over here in the UK, that coupled with the fact we live at the top of a hill means our digital signal is excellent.

Every TV in our house has a digi box or a TV with built in freeview and only the living room one is connected to a loft aerial , the others just have TV top aerial. The only issue we have right now, is the EPG tends to be a joke, dunno how wide spread the problem is though.
 

petef

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#8
.....I was viewing the game with my digital converter, the sound kept cutting out and the video would stop or have digital blotches. So bad that I had to switch back to the analog signal.
OK, good point about signal level. Here we need to address two concerns;
sensitivity of the converter box and gain of the receiving antenna.

What model converter box did you buy and what is the type and
configuration of your antenna, including the length of cable and
any adapters?

I'm thinking you may need to buy a higher gain antenna and possbily
a mastmounted preamp or maybe just a 20 db signal booster. What
I'm not sure of is the broadcast frequencies range of *all* the digital
channels in the NY/Phili area. In other words, do we need a UHF
antenna or do we need a UHF/VHF antenna in our area.

We also need to know about the different models of converter boxes
on the market and which ones have the greatest sensitivity (ability
to hold onto weak signals).

---pete---
 
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Tony D

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#9
In this case, the antenna and cable length are not a factor. Reason being that I was using the same antenna and cable for both the analog and digital configurations.

What comes into play is the noise figure and sensitivity of the receiver. The analog TV may have a better NF and sensitivity than the $50 Magnovox converter that i purchased.

The problem of going digital is the fact that the human eye and ear can compensate for the noise in video and audio that a digital system simply can not. In a digital system - it's all or nothing. In an analog system, a human can compensate when needed.

What these boxes need to do is fill a register cache with incoming data and delay the output. If there's a problem with the incoming signal, it should extrapalate the data to fill in the bad spots.

I think XM and SIRUS radio broadcasts do something similar because they have to worry about short glitches in receiving the broadcast due to things like tunnels, clouds, bridges. etc. They load a buffer FIFO but don't do any error correction. I could be wrong, but it's what I've heard.
 

petef

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#10
In this case, the antenna and cable length are not a factor. Reason being that I was using the same antenna and cable for both the analog and digital configurations.
Kelly, I believe the antenna and cable are indeed a very important factor
if signal strength is the limiting factor for some digital channels which are
intermintantly dropping out or going blue screen. If I understand your
problem correctly, some channels are not coming in well and the others
are fine. Correct?

If correct, then it means you need to supply a stronger cleaner signal
to the receiver on those weaker channels and the only way to do that
is to have a higher gain antenna. If you are running a long or lossy cable
between the antenna and converter box, you can overcome the loss by
adding a mast mounted preamp.

Analog is much more forgiving as it handles weak signals by displaying
the picture with more snow as the signal gets weaker, but digital
requires an input signal with a certain power level and a minimum
signal to noise ratio. If that threshold is not met the converter box
will not display the picture. In other words, the weak digital channels
require a better antenna than the analog channels do.

With all that said, I think you can solve your problem with a
better quality antenna. A higher gain antenna. That's why
I'd like to know the exact type antenna (gain of antenna if
you know it) and the length of cable between antena and
converter box. I'm assuming you are using RG-6 cable that
is relatively new.

Also: It would be helpful know the converter box
model and specs related to sensitivity.

---pete---
 
Last edited:

petef

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#11
Choosing an antenna...

Everyone,
The site below has a form to fill out (only zipcode required) and
it lists all the TV stations (has filtering for digital only) in your area.
Use this to determine what kind of antenna to buy.
AntennaWeb

For people in the NY/Phili, PA viewing area,
I read a review on one of the converter boxes sold at Radio Shack
from a guy centrally located between NY and Philidelphia and he
had very poor luck getting his converter box to work, so I' thinking
the antenna is going to be the most important factor for people
who are trying to pull in the digital broadcasts from 40 miles or
more from the transmitters.

I'll probably get my converter box sometime in June 2008 so
stay tuned for a report of my attempt to pull in the NY and
Phili, PA digital stations from around the Trenton, NJ area.

---pete---
 

Tony D

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#12
There's a TV repair guy that I work with. I asked him about these converter boxes and his only notable experience has been that Radio Shack converters are difficult to program. The Magnavox converter that I purchased was easy to program.

My point is that given the same antenna & cable, the digital converter I purchased (Magnavox, TB100MW9) does not give me the good preformance I had without the converter. Although the analog signal had a bit of snow, it didn't have losses of audio and digital blotches that I see/hear when using the converter.
 
W

Wolfeymole

#13
A digital signal will undoubtedly have the edge over analogue but at the end of the day, unless your on cable it really does matter where you live, eg; a mountain top or a valley bottom with regard to reception.
 

petef

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#14
My point is that given the same antenna & cable, the digital converter I purchased (Magnavox, TB100MW9) does not give me the good preformance I had without the converter. Although the analog signal had a bit of snow, it didn't have losses of audio and digital blotches that I see/hear when using the converter.
Yeah, that's disappointing news since we are led to believe that the
new digital broadcasts are going to be so much better. What strikes
me as odd with your case is that the Philly 57 channel seems to be
coming in strong enough on the analog TV to give a clear picture,
but yet, the digital converter is not providing perfect picture &
sound. In that respect I tend to agree with your assessment that
it not an issue with the antenna. This still makes me curious to see
how it would perfom with a higher gain antenna.

I'll be sure to let you know how I make out when I get my
converter box. For me, I think it's going to be more diffiicult
because most of my analog channels are now a bit snowy.

---pete---