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Josh Bass December 15th, 2008 01:47 PM

DTV question
Hi, all. This is kind of a different question about the whole DTV thing.

A little background:

This'll sound odd, so bear with me. I have a 42" plasma. I do not, however, have cable.


or a Blue Ray player, so--


Can you hold on? Jeez. Anyway, I got it more for my Xbox360 than anything else, 'cause I can watch TV/movies on a little 19" SD TV, but playing high detail games on it was really annoying me. Priorities, I guess. I will probably get a BR player down the line.

Anyway, given that all I have is a plain old antenna, what improvements, if any, will I see come the big changeover? I know the TV's DTV compatible as it is; several Houston stations ran a test last week, broadcasting several times during the day with the DTV signal in five-minute intervals, and everything worked fine. I did not, however, notice my always dubious reception suddenly crystalize and stabilize, so that sorta stinks. For someone in my unique situation, will I see any difference at all once DTV hits?

Chris Barcellos December 15th, 2008 02:15 PM

Not sure how far off you are from transmitters, but I use a simple indoor antenna on my Samsung Plasma, and Magnovox HD Digitals tvs, and get most on air broadcasts in great clarity. Of course you have to understands some of the stuff is still being broadcast as SD, as not all digital broadcasting is SD. Transmitters in my case are about 15 to 20 miles away.

Josh Bass December 15th, 2008 02:20 PM

I'm pretty close. . .inside the 610 loop on the SW side if that means anything to anyone. It's the center of the city, almost. Most towers are but mere miles from me.

Let me clarify. The reception is sometimes perfect, sometimes not, even on the same station without the antenna being adjusted. I get both HD and SD depending on what they're broadcasting when. Sometimes it's clear, sometimes it isn't. I too have an indoor antenna, though mine's an RCA. It has the rabit ears, plus a selector knob. I don't know what the knob selects. . .the choices are just dots. Maybe I should read manuals before throwing away sometimes, yes?

Chris Soucy December 15th, 2008 04:36 PM

Hi Josh.................
And the answer is..............it depends.

My first brush with digital tv was in London when they introduced their FreeView service.

We were in a good reception area with a decent external aerial, so we had good picture quality already.

We found the digital service pretty poor, as in order to squeeze in all the necessary channels for the available bandwidth, they cut the individual channel data rates so drastically it was, in many instances, like watching 50's B&W.

Don't know whether it's improved there in the last few years.

Anyway, with that in mind, I had a pretty jaundiced view of NZ's introduction of DTV with it's identically named Freeview, but this one being Freeview HD.

Checked it out in the shops and was pretty impressed.

Bought a set top box, plugged it in and voila, perfect crystal clear HD on every channel (that was transmitting HD, anyway).

Guess we don't have nearly the problem with channel capacity so they can run very high data rates.

With the digital service you'll find that you'll either get a picture or you won't, unlike analogue where it gracefully degrades.

If your reception is dodgy I would suggest a decent external aerial otherwise digital will drive you nuts.


Josh Bass December 15th, 2008 05:03 PM

I did read that outdoor antennas were better, but as I live in a weird cottage apartment, I'm not sure how feasible that is.

Bob Diaz December 15th, 2008 05:42 PM

DTV requires a good clean signal. IF you're lucky, rabbit ears might work, but I'm seeing posting after posting from others, where simple rabbit ears don't work properly.

At my home in the LA area, rabbit ears sort-of works, but drop-outs and freeze-ups are very common. Even something as simple as a car driving down the street can screw up reception.

Putting an antenna in the attic solved my reception problems. In my case, all the DTV stations are currently in the UHF band, so a $30 UHF antenna from Radio Shack was enough. AFTER February 17, 2009, many of the stations are going to change frequencies, so a few will be going to the VHF band. I have no idea how my UHF antenna will do with those changes.

Some good sources of information are:

TV Fool - Home
Will tell you about the DTV stations before February 17 and after February 17 in your area.

AVS Forum
LOTS of information about audio and video...

Bob Diaz

Greg Boston December 15th, 2008 05:49 PM


Originally Posted by Josh Bass (Post 978604)
I too have an indoor antenna, though mine's an RCA. It has the rabit ears, plus a selector knob. I don't know what the knob selects. . .the choices are just dots. Maybe I should read manuals before throwing away sometimes, yes?

Josh, it could be a couple things. If you plug in a low voltage power supply, they are amplified rabbit ears (I have such an RCA antenna that I started out receiving HD ota with). The knob adjusts the gain of the amp.

If not amplified, the knob is likely adjusting the phasing between the two antennas which changes the direction they receive the strongest signal from.


Josh Bass December 15th, 2008 05:51 PM

freeze ups and dropouts I'm used to. You're saying they could get worse? Oy. I've found simply MOVING AROUND IN THE ROOM can change the reception. Does that mean I have super powers? What are they?

What do you mean about the power supply?

Ok, so apparently, according to an online ad for the antenna, it's a "12 position UHF and VHF fine-tuning control." Also has a "Pivoting UHF loop for improved reception of channels 14-69".

Bob Diaz December 17th, 2008 04:15 PM

Even the human body can reflect radio waves, so depending on the signal coming into the rabbit ears, it could be at a weak point where you can switch it above and below the point where it works.

Bob Diaz

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