Digital TV Converter Box Tips ?
No More Analog TV
We'll its been many years coming after many delays but as of 11:25 PM on June 12th, Analog TV broadcast went off the air (there are some low power channel exceptions). If your a geek like I am, you watched them "push the button" and saw the TV go to snow.
There has been a lot of press on the conversion over the last few years and especially the last several weeks, but there still seems to be a lot of confusion. I was in the home depot this weekend and had a discusion with a fellow customer that promted me to write this article. I believe all this has been written before but wanted to put this together in a concise format. I also included several links to help.
Television Reception Options
I have seen several commercials which were at best misleading to switch to cable since you'll lose your TV coverage. If you were receiving over the air analog broadcasts its relatively low cost to you to get better digital coverage without paying for cable.
There are two groups that I think will benefit from the new digital over the air broadcasts, those that just one free TV service and those that want great HDTV. The over the air broadcasts for the local channels is the best way to get HDTV since they are not converted to lower quality formats that you would see on cable or satellite. If you just spent the money on a new large screen HDTV, go out an buy an antenna to receive the best quality picture from your local stations. The signal you get over cable or satellite will be good but not as good as you can get for free over the air.
So what are your options
1) Pay for cable or satellite TV. These are good options and if your currently a subscriber you would not have even noticed a difference.
2) Buy a new TV with built in digital tuner. For the best picture I would suggest looking at a new TV to receive true HDTV. You don't need the top of the line TV with 120 Hz refresh rates and 1080P resolution. Any TV with 1080i or 720p is good enough since most broadcasts of HDTV are 1080i or 720p and these are usually the lower price sets. If your a videophile, of course get the best set you can afford to go with your blue ray players, but if you just want over the air TV and play DVD's the lower end digital sets work fine.
3) Cut the cord. Go for something like Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV or other streaming media service. The Fire TV Stick is a great inexpensive option to convert any TV into a smart TV. It's an easy way to enjoy Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, YouTube.com, music. It has access to over 200,000 TV episodes and movies, millions of songs, and hundreds of games.
Where Did My Channels Go? and How to Choose an Antenna
Ok, so if you already had your converter box setup you may have lost more than your analog channels. Just to make things more confusing, in many markets the broadcasters decided to change their digital channels back to their analog channels. So you may have had digital CBS on a UHF station, but then they switch to a VHF station. In most cases you just need to re-scan your channels.
The customer I was speaking to in Home Depot was upset that they changed back the VHF since his antenna was a UHF only. Originally all the new digital stations were UHF so you only needed a UHF antenna, now to receive all the new digital channels you need an antenna the receives on both frequency bands. If you have an older antenna you actually may be better off, since they were typical VHF and UHF. If you bought a newer "digital" antenna, it may only receive UHF channels. Note- there really is not difference between a "digital" antenna and a regular antennas, they both receive the same signals.
If you need an antenna, go to www.antennaweb.org, and they will help you pick out a new antenna. One that I have used with great success was the Terk HDTV antenna which works for both UHF and VHF channels and pulls in signals really well.
If your close to the transmission sites, you may be able to get away with an indoor antenna. There are many choices here though a simple set of rabbit ears may work, some of the newer designs may work better.
If your further out you may also need to use a larger traditional antenna. Channel Master makes high quality antennas. You can also check your local Radio Shack.
One thing to also consider, is if your wiring in your house is older, you may want to run a new cable from your antenna to your TV. Many older wires are lower quality and may not support the higher UHF channels, also over the years the cable may have been spliced and split too many times. A run of high quality RG-6 coax cable can make a big difference on your reception.
How do I record my TV Shows?
Recording over the air digital broadcasts can be done using your analog VCR or PVR, you just need to connect it to the converter box. It does present some issues with programming since most VCR's won't know how to change the channel on the converter box.
To record one channel while watching another will require two converter boxes and an A/B switch (unless your TV has two inputs). One converter box goes to your VCR and the output of the VCR and second converter box goes to the A/B switch then to the TV. Use the switch to go between the VCR and the second converter box.
Search Amazon for a variety of over the air recording devices. Tivo makes one listed below that gets very good reviews.
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