Sunday, December 14, 2008

Review of Off the Air Digital TV (DTV)

On December 3, 2008 I made the switch to off the air TV or digital TV. I have had cable or satellite TV for over 30 years, but due to financial conditions at my house I made the choice to unplug my Dish Network TV in favor of having free tv. I wasn’t sure what this would mean to me, but I already owned 3 of the converter boxes two of which were connected to my kids TV’s and the other two TV’s had dish. Until December 3, 2008 I had a spare converter box.

So far I can say the picture quality is excellent! Even though the signal strength is on low power I receive the signals of 4 out of the 5 stations in Fort Wayne (15, 21, 33, 39, and 55). I do not currently get channel 55 as they must be running on ultra low power. The information I have shows they are on the air on channel 36 (to be explained later) and that if you are further than a few miles from the station you may not get their signal. When they go full power early next year that is to change. If you are familiar with satellite TV when the weather is bad I get some wavering and outages so that feels somewhat familiar. The wavering is not nearly as bad as it was with analog TV. Will be interesting to see what happens when they go full power on February 17, 2009.

The Channel lineup for Fort Wayne and surrounding area is as follows. We have a total of twelve channels.
15.1 WANE CBS
15.2 WANE National Weather Service Radar
21.1 WPTA ABC
21.2 WPTA CW
21.3 WPTA Viper Radar
33.1 WKJG NBC
33.2 WKJG My Network TV
33.3 WKJG INC Now 24/7 New Channel
39.1 WFWA PBS39 A simulcast of PBS39’s traditional analog broadcast
39.2 WFWA Kids39 24/7 award-winning educational public television children’s programming
39.3 WFWA CreateTV 24/7 award-winning programs for do-it-yourselfers
39.4 WFWA 39-4You News, information documentaries and more, 'round the clock.

WFFT-TV Channel 55
The Super station WFFT-TV channel 55 on January 1, 2008 became Fox Fort Wayne. WFFT-TV will be broadcasting on channel 36 for their digital TV broadcast. I have wondered what possessed them to be on channel 36 for their digital broadcast. Well, MediaFlo will be using channel 55 on a nationwide basis for one way data transmission. Mystery solved. Mediaflo will be broadcasting for delivery to guess what? Cell phones! The company’s mission is mobile entertainment. Currently the WFFT must be broadcasting on ultra low power as the information I found on the Internet says that their signal will be only viewable from a few miles or less from the station. I hope we don’t get the same crappy picture they had under the analog world. Let’s see I live about ten miles from the station, it would be nice if their signal was strong enough to cover all of Fort Wayne at a minimum. As of today digitally they might as well not be on the air except for testing purposes.

Converting to DTV
If you have a TV that is more than Two Years old you will have to buy a converter box. The federal government has developed a coupon program to allow you to purchase these boxes at a big discount. To apply for the coupons go to this website https://www.dtv2009.gov/ . These coupons come in the form of a credit card type thing. You go down to the local store, pick out a converter box, take it to the check out, then the coupon is applied. Take it home, plug it in to your TV, connect your antenna, then allow the box to program it’s self. It is really easy to setup. Depending on what you want from your converter box you can walk out of the store for around $15 tax and all and be all set.


Summary
All in all I am really impressed with Digital TV. The signal quality is the same as I received with DISH Network. If I had a HDTV TV I would be getting high definition tv for free. Unfortunately HDTV isn’t high on my list of things I want at the moment.
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