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officially on dtv

Pop got me one of those digital converter boxes for over-the-air television (which is what I have) a few weeks ago and finally got around to setting it up yesterday.

Here's what I have to report about it.

Does it work? Yes, obviously it does. I get somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 channels on the rabbit ears. The reception is mostly okay. But I still get digital "chop" on a few channels periodically. I'm currently debating whether or not to get an amplified set which would cure that ill. Since I can't erect an outdoor antenna (I live in an apartment) nor do I feel like using some long-ass wire to put the ears next to the window (which has no guarantee of working), that's basically my only option.

Older non-amp'd rabbit ears simply don't work optimally with these DTV boxes simply due to the fact there's no way to tell if you're tuning it right - assuming you even have the option to tune on the set-top. Mine does in fact have a tuner knob and I could see the difference when tuning analog but there's no way to know when on digital. With digi you either have chop or you don't as there's no "snow". So if you tune and one channel comes in better with less chop, it may completely screw up another or just drop it altogether. The whole process is an annoying crapshoot.

When in setup mode on the DTV box (mine is a Magnavox by the way), the best signal strength reported is 42 out of 100. It goes no higher on any channel. It would have been nice to crack over 50 on at least one channel, but no dice there. The rest of the channels are high 20s to high mid-30s on the strength meter. With the amp'd ears this would most likely change to mid-50s on the high and high-30s on the low. And yeah I'd be more comfortable with that. I guess it all depends how much the digital chop bugs me. If it bugs me enough, I'll get an amp'd set of ears. If not, I'll just deal with it.

I sincerely do appreciate the fact there's a "zoom" mode for the HD channels so I don't have to see the bars without "scrunching" the image. I also like that the box acts like a cable box in most respects (as far as general operation, the menus and so on).

Yes, it's annoying I have to deal with another remote control (bleah), but that's par for the course I suppose.

So yeah, I'm officially on digital TV now.

I can deal with the idiosyncratic nature of the way it works because it's free and I don't feel like paying for cable television.


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