Monday, September 08, 2008

DTV Tuner

So I got my government DTV tuner coupon.

The one I ordered from

Because you need one to watch TV as of February. Either a tuner or a whole new TV.

The coupon comes with a list of models that the government allows the coupon to be sent on and stores in your area that take the coupon.

Anyway, I bought one. An Apex DT250. It cost $22 besides the coupon. So far I'm thinking that another model would be better. The box isn't terribly responsive. Ask me again when I replace the batteries.

If your signal is as cruddy as mine you may want to make sure that the one you get has Analog Pass-Through. It means that until February you can use the old analog signal through the coax input.

I just had rabbit ears until now. Not a great signal. Odd really. You have to be close to a city to get a decent signal but then you have buildings blocking and reflecting the signal. You know when you can see multiples of the people on screen? Ghosts or whatever? That's because the signal is bouncing off of surrounding buildings.

Right, there was a point around here somewhere. Um... The picture is great now. Really. Except... I set it to "Lets Make a Deal or Not" or whatever, that one with Howie Mandel. I'm not sure I like him bald. While the old picture was a bit sketchy the new one is crystal clear. Except it pixelated from time to time. The signal is digital. So when there's a problem it pixelates. And those stations which were more than a little flawed just don't appear.

The model I bought has a "signal" button that tells you the signal strength. It allowed me to move the antenna to a place that at least makes the needle bounce around wildly instead of sitting on low. I had it rescan the spectrum after moving the antenna. A few new stations appeared. But the only one I watch instead of going to the website, Fox, is just pixelated hash.

The model I got has a "smart antenna" option. I hadn't heard of them. Looks like they have 4 antennas at 90° angles. You set it to scan for stations, it figures out what the best antenna configuration is best for those stations, and it shuts off the unwanted antennas. It should also sort out which is the primary signal and which are echoes from buildings so it can get rid of the ghosts. But they do require a different kind of cable than usual and so far they only plug in to certain DTV tuners. No TVs, radios, etc.

p.s. - Digital TV and High Definition TV are different things. Digital defines the type of signal. HDTV defines what's carried on the signal. Digital signals can carry the HD signal or the more traditional signal.
The question of whether you need a DTV tuner depends on how you watch TV. Cable and satellite viewers don't need a tuner. Antenna users do.

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