Walking the line between nerd and cool.

It’s Almost Like Cable TV

Except for the time we spent living with my mom while in Cleveland, Jaime and I have never had cable.  Cable modem, sure, but never the TV.  I was considering finally getting out of the 70s and joining the rest of the world recently, but just couldn’t do it.  The $10/month for “Broadcast” seemed like a good idea, but I just can’t justify paying for TV that’s free over the air.

Of course, our signal quality with a basic antenna is pretty poor, so we’ve always struggled with good reception, running up and down the stairs to get it just right for the channel we want to watch.  No more.

My friend (who popped in here recently as atteSmythe) told me that our signal would be improved with the DTV Convertor Box we’ll be required to have by February 17, 2009 if you don’t have an actual Digital TV.  I applied for the $40 coupon, received them a few days ago and made the purchase last night.  A quick 2 minutes after install, it was configured and ready to go. 

The end result?  We now get 14 channels clearly (and I do mean clear!).  Prior to this, we had Fox and ABC plus a few others with good reception and NBC/CBS with lots of snow.  NBC was almost unwatchable, even on the best days.  If you haven’t gotten the convertor box yet and are struggling with TV reception, might be worth getting!  If you pay for broadcast cable, consider trying a standard indoor antenna if you have one to see how the reception is.  You may be able to ditch the cable bill in favor of the antenna.


8 responses

  1. Terry R.


    I somewhat agree with what you’ve said in flavor of DTV.

    INDEED, it’s almost like Cable television(clear as hell ), and I expect that in the future all of this digital telvision thing is going to put Cable television out of business. BUT (!) all of thsi is JUST getting started. Give it time, and let’s see.

    I have a recently purchased REFURBISHED DVD recorder with an UPCONVERSION and I receive the DTV signal as well. I’m waiting for my coupon to arrive to purchase the converter box because I do NOT want always run my DTV via my DVD recorders converter.

    I am virtually in love with this DTV thing PRIMARIALLY because, WHEN/conditionally I receive a clear signal (I have to use a very vulnerable INDOOR television antenna arrangement), I can pick-up my favorite television channel broadcasting ‘Classic Arts Showcase’ (this program is to classical arts like MTV is to Rock and Pop music videos); later I expect that there will be other channels ESPECIALLY like TCMs classic, OLD, movies, THE Science channel, TLC and other such PBS television that I especially like (I am single/UNAMRRIED, …BUT (!) I am NOT one of these All-Family programming types; I just, unexpectantly [for over the past 20 years…], like many PBS/educational programs).

    I LOVE this digital television thing, BUT I understand that stations are NOT broadcasting at full capacity (hence the sensitivity of television reception), …television reception is extremely vulnerable to body movement in the immediate viewing-room, …EVEN the leaves on nearby trees moving in the wind will disrupt transmission/reception signals. I understand that all of this will change in the near future …HOPEFULLY.



    June 25, 2008 at 10:43 am

  2. Thanks for stopping by Terry! One of the other nice things about DTV over the air versus Cable is that the channels are actually clearer because they come in uncompressed. We’ll see what storms and the like do to the signal, but movement in viewing area hasn’t done anything to the signal yet. I haven’t tried it yet, but I should probably test our kitchen appliances (microwaves, blenders and mixers seem to be among the worst for interference) and our vacuum.

    I’d also love to see ESPN put up some broadcast towers and leave Big Cable. Probably never happen, but I can dream. 🙂

    June 25, 2008 at 10:52 am

  3. Darcy F

    We also improved our signal with the box. We didn’t add other networks, and lost a couple that came in EXTREMELY fuzzy before, BUT we get 3 PBS stations, so we can flip through if we don’t like what one is showing. When there is interference, it takes the form of pixelated images that are harder to see than snow. That is a down side.

    June 25, 2008 at 10:58 am

  4. Ah, yes, I noticed the pixelly goodness on PBS yesterday as well.

    June 25, 2008 at 11:02 am

  5. Glad you tried it!

    The upshot is that signals coming in above a certain line are crystal clear. The downside is that signals below that line are unwatchable. There is no ‘fuzzy middle ground’ with DTV.

    The good news is that it should only get better. Right now, television stations are paying to broadcast twice. I’ve suspected (and it’s great to hear Terry confirm!) that they’re not running the DTV transmitters at full strength yet. We’ll see how it goes in February!

    June 25, 2008 at 11:59 am

  6. PAT

    I have an old analog tv and recently installed the converter box. The picture was clearer but I was unable to get some broadcast channels . we bought a set top amplified antenna which made it possible to get all the broadcast channels and some extra channels BUT I have frequent episodes of stutter affecting both sound and picture breakup. frustrating to be sure and how to fix?

    August 17, 2008 at 1:53 pm

  7. Pat: I’m told that a roof antenna does wonders to fix a poor signal. Mine is not on the roof, but I hooked it up on the 2nd floor and connected it to a cable wire that ran into my basement. A little re-wiring there and that wire was connected to the one that goes into my television.

    It was already set up this way when I switched to the converter box, but the move helped a ton with analog so it should help here as well.

    August 17, 2008 at 3:45 pm

  8. Pingback: Rabbit Ears for the Win Please, Alex « Intersections

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