Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Test Driving Digital Broadcast Television

Back in February of this year, i was under going an anxiety attack. You see, the 17th was rapidly approaching, and I had not yet purchased a digital television converter box. You see, I don't have cable, and while I watch very little television, there are those shows I like to watch, and with out a TV signal, well, I'd be forced to watching old videotapes and the same twelve DVDs I've had for years.
Just as time was running out, my ex-wife provided me with a coupon that allowed me to purchase a new converter box for a mere fraction of the cost. I hooked up my antenna, tested the system and.... they pushed the switch date back to June 12th. So it sat next to my TV, like the pile of broken DVD players I've been accumulating, collecting dust like them, waiting for the day when it becomes something resembling useful.
Then, a couple of weekends ago, while using the analog antenna reception, we came across RetroJams, a weird broadcast channel showing old videos non-stop. One of the boys suggested we try and see if we could pull it in better with digital converter box, so we turned it on , scanned for available channels, and found that a number of local channels were already broadcasting in HD digital. We watched the box office debacle Sphere, an unintentional comedy starring Dustin Hoffman and Samuel L. Jackson.
And it was great. The digital picture was as clear as cable television, just like we had been promised. Since then, we have been watching in HD on the local channels that have begun broadcasting the signal. Only the local NBC affiliate and the local CBS affiliate have to yet commence HD broadcast, making it hard for me to watch one of my favorite shows, 30Rock, except by turning off the converter box. And there has been other problems with it as well.
1. Every time I turn off the television for an extended period of time, the converter box shuts off, and to begin watching again, I have to scan for all the channels again.
2. On occasion, the box will shut itself as I watch it, with no advance warning.
3. Weather conditions can still alter the signal, creating interesting pixel trails and image mash-ups that are like an acid trip. In fact, if I still did drugs, it would be cool to watch just for those moments when one image melts out of another like a free associated mind trip.
4. The additional channels promised have turned out to be Christian broadcasting featuring bad Christian rock bands, televangelists, and movie and television shows from the "good old days", when injecting reality into entertainment was as far away as injecting reality into religion is today.
Sill, I am looking to upgrade my antenna, hoping to fix some problems, and am still hoping that I can start watching My Name Is Earl and 30 Rock in HD soon.

1 comment:

Frogette said...

Dude - I watch everything online. Mark my words televisions (DVDs, DVRs, TeVo, Dish Television, etc.) are all going the way of the home phone. Buh bye!