Fast Forward: Requiem for Analog TV



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I have to agree with Tom, as well...

I live in a "rural" area. All of my stations come from 70 miles or so away, except for one --which is 120 degrees in another direction, but only 50 miles.

My digital decoder has a signal strength scale, that goes from 0 to 100. I've gotten in the habit of looking at the strength of signal, when there's a problem and during commercials.

Above 30 is supposed to be a good signal. But I still get skipping or freezing video/audio at 80-90, when someone with a CB radio drives by. (like my neighbor's 17 year-old... if you can imagine how often that is).

I also lose 60 points or more, when it rains ---which kinda defeats the purpose of the two new Weather channels. It basically means no digital stations, until it stops raining.

It seems like digital is missing some kind of "error correction" or something --to me. I don't know if these signals are short on power, redundancy, or what... I guess this shouldn't be a surprise, since my box has the most poorly designed remote control I've seen that has more than 3 buttons.

It seems pretty sad that I have to either hope that the signal will be better, when they start using VHF bandwidth again, or go cable/dish.

I can't say I much like the idea that the whole thing was just a Corporate Play for a quick revenue boost for these companies. [and by extension, the broadcasters too --who will in turn, have statistics of "new subscriptions" from this year, as an extra bargaining point with the distributors]



Here in the Seattle area, I've had Comcast's Extended Basic package for well over a decade, and despite the spam-like commercials that say "You won't have to do a thing", I found out in December that the majority of us WILL have to do a thing.

Specifically, if your cable is hooked directly to your analog TV, all channels beyond 29 will go blank. No ESPN, no Comedy Central, no Sci-Fi, etc. You will need a D/A converter to continue receiving those channels...and not the ones that are eligible for government coupons, I'm talking about proprietary D/A converters here. Comcast will provide a couple of them at no charge, but if you have more than a few TVs in your house, every additional D/A converter comes with a monthly "convenience" charge (plus the always-complimentary applicable hidden fees). As an added bonus, your remotes are now only good for changing color and contrast settings, etc.

So I jumped on the coupon bandwagon (mine were mailed out just a couple of days ago) and started researching decent D/A converters and outdoor antennas. I'll jack the outdoor antenna into my existing cable splitter, drop two D/As on two TVs, and get ClearQAM tuners for my HTPC and my main machine. Then when I finally decide to get an HD television for my home theatre room (and later for the living room and bedroom), I'll already have superior picture quality to Comcast HD for the local stations. I was stunned at the PQ of BSG via Hulu on my 36" Trinitron, so the Internet is how I'll be watching my favorite cable shows. If I want certain cable shows in HD, I'll just fire up BitTorrent.

The best part is that the hardware will pay for itself within eight months, because I won't be paying Comcast $40 every month anymore...then I'm saving $40 a month after that.



I hooked up a antenna with one bunny ear broken off and picked up terrible looking anolog tv. But I switched to the digital chanel and it looked perfect, and in full HD. I live in philly and our broadcast tower was only 5 miles away, but the antenna has one ear and wasn't even pointed out, it was just hanging behind the tv until the cable guy came. I was amazed that it worked though and so well, maybe the way we should look at this is that you get a larger level of "perfect picture" rather than a broader range of watchable?

But hey, who needs broadcast and cable/sat when we have internet tv? HULU rocks. Maybe its just a sign of the times, my parents don't miss their 8tracks, hi-8, or vcr.

I'm just happy to be rid of 12oClock flashers.....



I full-heartedly agree Tom...

 I'm a photo lab manager, I've encountered more problems with digital imagery than film-based, although now that film is dying, it's becoming far more difficult to get a quality film-based print. (old film, poor storage, stale developer, all common problems).


At any rate, for every important shoot I do with my DSLR, I do 2 things:

 1.   I take the images in RAW, process them to JPEG, and make prints from every JPEG that's acceptable.   I don't care if I make 200 prints for a birthday party, I want every image that shows a family member / loved one permantently made into print.

2.  I do a differential backup of the entire 500GB hard drive (all photos) onto an external drive.


One thing I have considered and am hopefull for is that some day in the not so distant future, storage capacities of inexpensive media will reach the point where by I can make a copy of every image I've ever taken, and give one to every family member in my family (7 siblings).

I realize your topic is on the nature of DTV, but in the sense of photgraphy, one must understand the reason one takes a photo to understand why digital is "scary" to me in the sense of reliablity.   One does not take a photo for the fun of clicking a shutter and getting an image back, although that is all part of it.  One takes a photo to preserve a memory.

 Think about it.   If you look at a photo of yourself when you were a kid, 9/10 you know exactly where you were, what you were doing, why the photo was taken, etc.    But then try and think about 2 hours later, and you can't retrieve any info from your memory about that.    The photo may just be a peice of paper with dyes, but the memory is embedded or in some other way attached to it.  Looking at that photo allows the memory to be brought up from the mind, in a way not usually otherwise possible.


In that way, as a photographer my job is to preserve memories, and if I can only garauntee a memory for 3-5 years (typical life of an HDD) then I have to ask myself how good I am at what I am doing, and if I am really doing my job at all.

 A professional photographer friend of mine almost lost 700GB of wedding / model photos that had no backups.   80,000 images in total.  I managed to rescue the drive and retrieve the data, but is scared the living hell out of him.   That was his carreer's work in that drive, his means of income.   Still, I fail to be able convince him to at least buy a backup drive for it.


An for what it's worth, I too listen to my collection of about 50 LP's on a regular basis. ;)


Dan O.

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