Thursday, June 11, 2009

Our Long National Nightmare Is Over (or is it just beginning?)

And by that, I mean the "Digital Transition."

This doesn't mean YOUR problems are over -- if you watch using a converter box or digital television set, you already know the signals are very unstable, your picture may pixilate or freeze, and you want to throw anything you have within reach at your television set.

(The cable companies must be loving this...)

The first thing you need to remember if you have a digital TV or converter box with an antenna, is RESCAN. Find your manual if you don't do this often and have it ready.

On Friday, June 12, many stations will move to new digital frequencies, and even if you've been watching them before, you won't be able to see them after without rescanning. (In Michigan, do this after 10:30 a.m.; other states, I don't know.)

Here are some things to keep in mind as you are trying to decide whether or not to order cable or a dish because you are so frustrated.

First, the antenna is key and antennas age. If you think you should be getting a station and it's not coming in, adjust your antenna toward that station's signal and rescan. If it's still not working, you may need a more powerful antenna (outdoor recommended; indoor can work within certain ranges).

The best website for help that points to your location specifically is -- put in your address and it will say the type of antenna you need (rooftop, indoor, etc.). When you hit "street map" it shows how you should direct your antenna for best reception.

Remember, many public television stations now can have up to four separate channels.

MOST cable and satellite companies do not carry all four channels. Some cable companies do, on the digital tier (but not on expanded basic). These channels are offered free to all providers by local PBS stations. If you don't receive them and want them, ask your provider.

Quite often, as I mentioned, your picture on a digital set/box with antenna will freeze or pixilate. (Interestingly, I am noticing this on cable, too.)

The pixel problem, unfortunately, is almost a given, and not a happy one.

For example, I get all the channels, and on any given day, something can happen to cause them to pixilate. Among the problems — Gypsy too close to the TV or antenna; rain or funky weather; birds (don't laugh; our engineer tells me this is true); tree leaves (also don't laugh — we're getting a TON of calls about that this week. Tree leaves. Who knew? And boy, do I feel stupid telling people that).

I'm beginning to suspect alien beings are probably part of the equation, too. Everything else seems to be!

Digital signals are very unstable. Generally, if you get in a channel pretty well and you don't adjust the antenna, you're probably good until something external interferes (most generally weather). If you have an outdoor antenna, sometimes wind can knock it a bit off course and you're still getting it — just not well.

For whatever reason, Rick (who lives two blocks from me) can't get WKAR since we changed his antenna (because he couldn't get 10.) He and I both have indoor antennas. It took me a LONG time to get 10 after they changed their stuff in February.

If you watch TV using an indoor antenna, I do have two articles I can e-mail you, but unfortunately not until after June 29. Just send me an e-mail and I'll handle it when I get back.

Your own local public television station is probably similar to WKAR in posting much information on their local website. You are free to visit ours for frequently asked questions, links, etc., or e-mail me with questions.

Good luck. May the force be with you.


Annie said...

Grrrrr. Yes, a long national nightmare. I just sent your post to Don. I'm going to let HIM deal with it (if there is anything to deal with). Grrrrr.

anno said...

Sometimes I kind of miss having television reception, but reading things like this cures me pretty fast. Hope you get through this transition soon...

shoreacres said...

I keep thinking about Mike's photo of the antenna - maybe it just surrendered!

I've been considering cancelling my cable altogether. I can get local news or weather from the internet - and I could buy at least a couple of books every month for the $60 I shell out for expanded basic. It just seems silly to have the thing here when I don't watch it. Well, except for NCIS and Numbers - but I could always go down to Mom's and watch those and make her happy in the process!

Mary Timme said...

Well, we are cable so not a problem here. I think our TV set is getting ready to bite the dust though. It is always something.

Joanne Huffman said...

Is it really so bad that you had to flee the country?


Oh said...

Jeanie - well this is helpful in that you mention that pixalation occurs, nearly regardless! HM is thinking about the rescan thing but you know, I think I don't care if it works well or not! We don't watch a lot. I fired the cable company about 2 years ago, and we pretty much watch Channel 9 or a netflix movie.
When will this get this whole broadcast thing right? I sure wish it meant the birth of more tv stations, independently owned.
Hey, you never know what wonderful direction "art" will take when things go through major changes!

Beansieleigh said...

Hi Jeanie! This was VERY interesting to me, and I may be referring back to it time and time again!.. However, there hasn't been anything SO exciting or quality enough, in YEARS, in my opinion anyway, worthy of paying what cable companies want, so all I know is more, and more, and more, the Video store and my own collection of DVDs are just about all I'll resort to now. I don't even watch the news anymore.. It's too depressing!

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