Linked by weildish on Tue 6th Jan 2009 17:28 UTC
Editorial If you live in the United States, then it's almost certain you've heard about this big digital switch that public television is making due to a new US law. If you live outside of the US, I bet you've heard of it anyway since we like to let people know what we're up to. The big day that's coming up -- February 17th, 2009 -- that magical date when all television stations will historically abandon the infamous analog broadcasting for greener, digital pastures -- didn't strike fear into the hearts at my household. We rarely utilize the antenna, and then only two to four times a year for a special program. Nonetheless, we got our hands on one of those nifty coupons anyway and went out to purchase a digital converter for the sake of those few intrinsic public broadcats. Read on for the whole story.
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Digital TV usually requires an external aerial to function correctly. In the UK we used to get a sweet deal with On Digital (now defunct) that for £50 we'd get a heavily subsidised external aerial fitted (cost of over £100 + labour.) Sadly On Digital died a death (and morphed in to Freeview) and that is no longer available.

One of the big issues with Digital signals are:

1) they need to be seperated from analog or they can interfere (we have a lower transmission bandwidth in the South of the UK so we don't bleed in to the French TV system.)

2) They don't bounce about like analogue - a large immovable object will kill the signal, not reduce it.

3) any small drop out will corrupt the stream and cause "skipping"

However, the over the air boxes here have got a lot better. Our first one was a Phillips On Digital branded one - it suffered a lot from weak signal popping and clicking and signal corruption. The ones we have now work a hell of a lot better and rarely show the artefacts. They either show a fairly good picture or nothing at all. They tend to freeze the picture rather than completely screw up the picture.

We use a different system in Europe - IIRC it is similar to the US one, but the US one is more "hacked" about. DVB-T is what we use in the UK, anyway.

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