OT: Digital TV

What changes, if any, did you guys in the USA have to make when your TV went digital? I am specifically interested in cable.
This has been mentioned in passing some time ago and I understand that those with rabbit ears had some issues. At the same time I remember public announcements that *no* changes will be required for those with satellite or cable connections.
Canada is supposed to go digital in 2011. So far there has been a deafening silence about it in the media. The cable companies are pushing digital converters like crazy, I assume the reason being that the fees from those will disappear when the change occurs.
I succumbed today in order to get TSN2 and because the box was on trial for free for 6 months. I have the whole thing arranged with two HD recorders so I can record two programs at once and watch a third one.
I was reluctant to invest any more pending the digital changeover. However, when I discussed it with a salesman in the local London Drugs he was fairly certain that older TVs will not work after the changeover - something to do with digital tuners.
Thanks,
--
Michael Koblic,
Campbell River, BC
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New TVs have had digital tuners for quite a while. The old sets needed a conversion box that cost about $50 but then there were $40 rebates all over. We're using one of these on the very old TV in the guest bedroom. If Canada doesn't do the rebate program I bet there are a ton of these converter boxes on eBay.
Karl
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On Mon, 16 Aug 2010 20:09:20 -0500, Karl Townsend

http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trksid=p3907.m570.l1311&_nkw=digital+tv+converter+box&_sacat=See-All-Categories
We bought 2 of these at Walmart for humm...$24 each as I recall.
They work well enough
http://cgi.ebay.com/MAGNAVOX-DIGITAL-ANALOG-TV-CONVERTER-BOX-W-Remote-/230512375173?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0
Gunner
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wrote:

Correct. Ive got nothing but "old style" TVs here and no cable. So when they changed over..I had to buy a "converter" for each set. Well ..for 2 of them anyways. Ive not had the money to buy one for the tube out in the shop.
They were about $25 each and they simply convert the digital signal to analog so my TVs would display the programing..
Ive STILL not figured out the new channel arraingements however. It used to be 1-13, then 17-56...now we have 17.1, 17.2 and so forth. 4 "subchannels" per regular channel.
Ive not bothered trying really hard to understand..I seldom watch tv..maybe 3-4 hours a month and when its on..its simply background noise, which my computer (music) and the radio(news) fill pretty well.
TV programs largely suck these days unless you have cable or satillite and even those suck.
Just remember..all your VCRs and whatnot that you may watch through your existing TV are analog output...so unless you plan on tossing every bit of equipment in the trash..buying converters is about your only option.
Cable and satillite on the other hand..wont change a bit anytime soon, so if you are paying for TV signal..nothing to change.
Gunner
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(there's a doctoral thesis in abnormal psychology in your tag lines Gunner - hope someone picks it up before you run out of crayons)
In agreement there Gunner - life is too short and there are too many interesting things to do rather than vague out in front of the box. Radio is a different story - love my local FM classical stations, and the foaming rabidly lefty liberal Annoy Gunner AM stations. BTW - a winger AM talk station fired up here recently, ratings so low they weren't on the scale... Probably the wingers couldn't understand how to tune their radios - simple things they are, wingers, rely on slogans and dogma rather than reason and competence...
Andrew VK3BFA.
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Andrew VK3BFA wrote:

Why do you have to resort to insulting anyone who doesn't subscribe to *your* political views ? Is that a Liberal thing to distract us from the Socialization of the USA ?
--
Snag
Wannabe Machinist
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Woops - it was me sniping at Gunner, I am sure he will respond in kind. When hes on song, hes pretty good. No offense to anyone else - I mean, my statements were so patently absurd that I am at a loss how anyone could mistake them for a serious political manifesto....<g>
And I dont really subscribe to any particular ideology - the human race has been trying to come up with a workable one thats fair and equitable for several thousand years now, success rate has been .....not good....I hope its in my lifetime, but I doubt it. They all look good in theory, otherwise no one would believe them. The implementation falls over, cause you cant factor in human greed, stupidly, and the lust for power....and sheer bloody incompetence.
Didn't know your country has a leaning towards socialism - looks like business as usual from this side of the Pacific.
Andrew VK3BFA.
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Of course you do know that such insults are the bread and butter of the mentally ill Leftwinger. Its part of their illness that they must ..in their embittered state..spew at everyone who doesnt share their illness.
Damned shame the Great Cull is unlikely to happen in his land.
Gunner
--


"First Law of Leftist Debate
The more you present a leftist with factual evidence
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On Tue, 17 Aug 2010 02:16:16 -0700 (PDT), Andrew VK3BFA

Interesting. I think your reaction would be a better study in abnormal psy then the tagline itself. I take it you are offended by the truth eh? Which part did you disagree with...that part about Gay Liberals? You dont live here do you....? Or maybe the fact it was exposed bothers you? So hows that Top you are living with doing these days?

Leftwingers..I agree.
Most of them cant pour piss out of a boot, even with instuctions on the heels.
Gunner
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Sorry, I only know about the US conversion and Over-The-Air (antenna) reception. Digital TV was broadcast in parallel for a long time, on temporary alternate channels. The subsidized converter boxes converted a digital channel to analog on channel 3 or 4, like the output of a VCR. The ones I bought could also pass analog through unchanged, so they received everything. The converted signal makes full use of the TVs bandwidth and the picture quality is somewhat higher. I think colors are better on my old CRT Sanyo with converter than my digital Vizio, but the difference is small. The Vizio is also a computer monitor and thus placed only one diagonal (22") away from my chair and the resolution is spectacular.
On or about the conversion date all analog transmitters except low- powered repeaters in remote areas were shut down and the stations switched to transmitting only digital on their permanently assigned channels, which sometimes were their old analog ones. The boxes and digital TVs can rescan for all available signals or add new ones if you need a rotator to aim at different cities.
I also have a USB digital tuner on a PC which uses Windows Media Center to record HDTV, like a no-fee TIVO. The unix equivalent is MythTV.
The same old 1980's antenna still works. A falling branch broke the UHF dipole and I replaced it with two 6" aluminum hex standoffs stuck into plastic hose for the center insulator. It's quite close to the correct length for the 700 MHz highest digital channel here, considering the effect of all the passive elements.
jsw
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The TV here in our part of Central Oregon is still analog and on the old channel scheme. These are repeaters and translators up on one of the local mountains. I guess some are digital, like the local PBS (public broadcasting service), so we don't watch that anymore. Still get at least one channel for each of the three networks, plus the local from Bend.
Paul Crooked River Ranch, Oregon
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Yep, a real bummer when something outside of your field of expertise sneaks up on you....heres what I have learnt here in OZ.
1. If you were getting even a noisy analogue signal, then digital is (90% of the time) no problem - here, its been far better than the engineering types expected. 2. Any new TV will have a HD digital tuner built in, possibly an analogue one as well, but analogue sets are being phased out here. If you existing TV has an AV input, get a STB (set top box) - about $40 here, and you can watch digital TV till the old set dies... 3. Pay TV? - digital pay TV? - I feel a strong RANT coming on here, so will spare you the saga of how successive governments here have made a mess of broadcasting policy ever since the first radio was invented. Consistently wrong....wind up with systems that are neither Fish nor Fowl...
Its worth the effort - you will not want to go back to the analogue system.......the picture and sound quality are miles better....
Andrew VK3BFA.
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The cable companies in the US have screwed the public, in many cases people don't know that they should be complaining, and loudly.
In the US there are many standards to which the cable companies were held relating to video and audio quality, and the timing of the audio with the video.
Digital cable does not come close to meeting these standards (not HD, not any of it) but the laws were written for analog video, and so the cable companies have so far claimed the standards do not apply.
A cable company would have their franchise pulled so fast it would make their heads spin if they ever did with analog what they do to digital.
And, MPEG sucks, and sucks bad. I'm sick and damn tired of seeing something like a sunset where the colors and brightness are banded instead of having a smooth transition.
Dave
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Dave__67 wrote:

I think you'll find that's more to do with the trade off between picture quality and getting extra channels in the bandwidth than any inherent problem with MPEG.

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On Aug 17, 1:49pm, David Billington

Yes and no- Yes, as in part root of the problem is taking 135Mbps of bandwidth that used to be used for one analog channel and then carving it into sub-1Mbps channels (760-800kbps when I was in the biz), No, in that the MPEG group made some really crappy decisions concerning the visibility of level quantization (and then assuming somebody like a cable operator could make rational decisions concerning tradeoffs).
Dave
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Cableco box converts to analog for the TV set. Newer ones to feed digital tvs without old technology will have digital outpus as well, so no problem.
Expressvu wouldn't rent me a HD PVR here (small island, no "professionsl" installer) so I called shaw, they came by 3 days later with a FREE HD PVR which has been wonderful.
Enjoy! / mark on salt spring island
Michael Koblic wrote:

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On Mon, 16 Aug 2010 17:43:20 -0700, "Michael Koblic"

As it stands right now if you have cable you won't need to invest in anything to keep recieving the "standard package" channels, the cablecos will take care of converting the signal at the headend so buisness as usual.
AFAIK if you have a "digital ready" TV you'll still need the cableco box+ HDMI cable for the premium channels as this is how they control your subscription to them. Depending on you company (Shaw?) you may be able to buy your own rather than rent. Maybe someday you'll be able to buy a TV with this functionality built in but Ii don't think they're available yet.
If you're still on an antenna for local stations you'll need to upgrade to a digital set or buy a convertor for the ol' Clairtone :)
H.
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[...]

Thank you and all the others. The general gestalt I am getting is "wait and see". If I am right the outcome will not be much different from my current setup.
I am running an old cathode ray TV and am completely happy with analog standard def. However, recent programming changes meant that stuff I was able to watch before I could not watch now without adding digital.
One of the things that put me off digital is the inability to use my current HD recorder to record a program and watch another. I have two HD recorders which did not cost me a penny.
However, since Shaw put out this offer of a free digital converter and I had a real need of TSN2 I managed it so I can do all of the above. I can record two analog programs and watch a third one, I can record one digital and one analog and watch an analog 3rd, I can record analog and watch a digital. The only pain is having to set two timers when recording on the HD that is hooked up to the digital. But it works!
The only way to avoid the kerfuffle would be to spend over $450 on a digital converter-cum-HD recorder sold by Shaw.
However, as I am likely to need to update the TV and the sound system in the near future (many of the current programs bury the dialog in music - something that can apparently be solved by a surround sound), I shall wait a bit more.
--
Michael Koblic,
Campbell River, BC
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Cable shouldn't change. Depending on the company, they may have been sending digital signals down the line anyway, just not the OTA kind. If your set-top box also accepted OTA antenna input, it may need to be changed or a converter added. In the US, cable companies have been forced to add local channels, so OTA may not be a problem if you've gone to cable.
OTA WILL require a converter box, typically you permanently set the old set to channel 3 or 4, ala video-game style, and use the new box for tuning the channels. Unless you're really lucky or deliberately pick the correct converter box, your old remote will be useless except for turning things on and off. Some converter boxes deliberately use subsets of existing makers' infrared signals so existing remotes can be used. Some research is indicated here before buying. The converter boxes here were US-govt. subsidized, to the tune of $20. Usually had to fork out about $20 to get the hardware, plus the coupon. The qualifying boxes were pretty stripped down, most had just composite+audio out and RF, a few had s-video. Any other added I/O features didn't qualify for the rebate. Output resolution was limited, too.
If you've got a flat-panel, check for an integrated digital tuner, most sets made in the last 5-6 years will have a compatible tuner. Some older-newer sets will have a digital tuner, but some changes were made to the specs over the years so they may not work on all channels now.
OTA performance is directly related to distance from the transmitter. If you had a ghosty washed out analog picture, you may not get anything at all without an antenna upgrade. It'll either be a great picture or not present at all.
I was lucky and already had an amplified outside disk antenna. They changed from downtown low-power digital transmitters to a new antenna complex on a mountain when they went to full-power service, I had to rotate the antenna to get a picture. The antenna was about 12 years old, but still picked up all available channels. YMMV
Stan
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Michael Koblic wrote:

We have 3 Tivos and frankly, it wouldn't be worth watching TV without them. They are all standard def. and we don't want to spend the time, effort and money to change anything. ATT U-verse offered us a deal we couldn't refuse. About 200 channels of standard def, fast internet and phone with free long distance for about $120 month. The U-verse standard def signal is uniformly excellent and we are pretty much happy with things.
The ATT DVR set-top boxes are crap so we set up the tivo boxes downstream. The tivo emits an IR beam that can change channels on the ATT box and then record.
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