Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Are You Ready for Digital TV?

Nationally, the digital television switch-over date is February 17, 2009. Some stations (including mine) are shutting off their analog signal prior to that date. If you have cable or satellite on all your televisions, you probably don't need to read this post -- unless you have friends that might need your help.

Basically, the digital transition nationally is a mess. Converter boxes are available and fairly standard, but unless you have the right antenna, many of the viewers in our area (and I answer all their questions and e-mail) are having trouble with signal break-up, and we hear that is nationwide.

With digital, you don't get "snow" -- you get picture or no picture (possibly with some extremely annoying pixilation as the signal dies.)

Anything can get in the way of the signal and make a difference -- wind, birds, tall buildings, interference from cell phone signals. We find that people who could watch our analog channel can't receive our digital channel, and until we have a power increase from the FCC, they'll be in trouble, though a taller antenna might help.

Antenna. That's the word and the thing that can make the most difference. If you watch over the air and get a converter box, try your original antenna first... even if it's rabbit ears. If it doesn't work, check antennaweb.org (link on my media links at the right) and see what they recommend for your location.
Remember, time is of the essence. It takes about a month for converter box discount coupons to arrive (valued at $40 off; you may get two). If your antenna isn't adequate, you'll need to make arrangements to upgrade and as we get into winter, those living in the north will find it may be pricier for installation.

How can you help others?

Make sure your friends and neighbors are not only aware of this, but have taken action, either by getting a converter box, digital TV or subscribed to a pay service.

Help people hook up their converter boxes to their sets. I talk to a lot of senior groups -- this is particularly challenging for those with arthritic hands, unable to turn their television set around to the back for the hook up, or visually challenged and not able to see which spot to insert the cables. It's not hard to do at all, but if you can't see or wiggle fingers or move furniture, it's pretty tough.

If you don't need a coupon, you can order a coupon for others. Some people without services may have multiple televisions and need more than two coupons. (You might even need one for the basement or kitchen set.)

Remind your friends that coupons have a 90-day expiration date. Take it from me, who didn't use her second coupon in time -- they don't make exceptions!

Check out my Media links at the left. WKAR's digital guy pages include some frequently asked questions, you can order your coupon, check out antennas and Crutchfield Advisor has some very good articles.

If you have any questions, e-mail me or include your e-mail address in your comment. I'll try to help troubleshoot with you. (I may be sorry I suggested that, but go ahead!)

And now I don't feel so guilty for blogging at work!


Unknown said...

I'm just an analog girl living in a digital world!

Annie Jeffries said...

Good post. This just reminded me that I told my girlfriend I would order one for her. She ordered it and then let the 90 days expire. I guess a household can only request a coupon once. Weird. Anyway, thanks for the reminder.

Rosa said...

Great info! I was just thinking of you. I'm anxiously awaiting Thursday's first showing of Spain on the Road Again with Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow on NPT. It looks great!!

Naturegirl said...

Hello Jeannie! Back home now! Finally getting around to visit friends! Love the header of your marmalade kitty! Nice catching up on your blog..thank you for commenting on my travel blog while I was on our journey it was a treat hearing from a familiar voice when among strangers!
weary hugs aNNa

anno said...

Oh, I knew this day would come... Will you still visit me even if we don't watch TV... (no signal, no cable available, no desire for satellite). Sounds like you've offered some excellent advice, though!

Kristine said...

Great informative post! Now for my question, I have a relatively new TV but it's not an HDTV does it have to be to be digital? TVs that are sold now are all equipped to handle the antenna, ie, have the converter built in?
Thanks for you help.

Jeanie said...

Kris asked:
I have a relatively new TV but it's not an HDTV does it have to be to be digital? TVs that are sold now are all equipped to handle the antenna, ie, have the converter built in?

All HDTVs are digital, but not all digital TVs are HD. If you bought your set within the last year, it's highly likely it is digital -- but not a given. The best way to find out is to check your manual or the manufacturere's website to be sure the model you have IS digital and doesn't require a converter box. If you were to buy a new set now (unless you get one sitting on the shelf for a long time), it would be digital and ready for the antenna hook-up (no box). Simply plug in the wall with your antenna hook-up and you'd be good to go. Thanks for asking!

JessInFocus said...

Very informative post! As a person with satillite I know all to well what digital looks and sounds like when it breaks up. It is none too pretty, but then again static to me is like nails on a chalk board.

Beth said...

I hope my cable never goes out or I want be watching tv. Great post and so informative!
Hope your feeling better!

Kristine said...

Thanks Jeannie!

Sugar Bear said...

You must be heavily involved with this at work! I think all of our friends and family are already digital thank goodness. I don't watch a lot of tv but those shows I do watch - I don't want to miss!

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