Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NTSC Vs. ATSC and my TV

While not quite personal finance related, I am having a bit of a situation. Last year, my holiday present to myself was a new LCD flat screen HDTV. I was lucky enough to get a ton of gift cards and with a little budgeting; I bought a new 26 inch LCD TV that replaced my little 12 inch color TV. I made sure that I got a TV with an HD receiver. The description on the company web site, the box and the instruction manual all say that the TV is able to receive both NTSC and ATSC signals (analog and digital).

Imagine my surprise last night when my local station was running a digital broadcast test. I got the dreaded message that my TV is getting that particular message screen because it is not digital ready! WTF? I pulled out the owner’s manual and sure enough, my TV is supposed to be digital ready. So what gives here?

I had gotten a coupon for a converter box and had purchased said converter box a few months back, why I have no idea, I supposedly had an HD ready TV! I figured I'd be nice and put it on freecycle and give it to someone. I hooked it up to my TV and hooked up my antenna to the box. I tried scanning for channels and got the same dammed 5 ones I already have (I don't have cable), which is less than the usual 8 (one is very fuzzy though) I can get with the regular NTSC signal. I don't see any of the new and improved HD local  channels that are supposedly being broadcast. Do I see an improvement in my picture quality with the box-nope, if anything, I see a decrease in quality.

I'm not a happy camper to say the least. I will have to do some research and probably have to hook up/rehook up boxes and DVD players to figure this out. This is my TV watching season and I'm not happy about spending all this time trying to get even a signal period!

Are you ready for the switch?


boots586 said...

I got the coupons in July. None of the listed stores near me had the converter boxes and didn't know when they would get them so my coupons expired before I could use them. I was lucky enough that my daughter had an extra box, and then it turned out that I didn't need it after all so I gave it to a friend who still uses rabbit ears and a roof entenna. After we installed the box and did the scan, she is missing some channels but our CBS station said that as of 2/17/09 the missing stations should appear as the signals will be stronger. So don't give up hope yet!

boots586 said...

antenna, not entenna.

Amanda said...

I live in Hawaii and our state is going digital tomorrow because delaying a month will disturb an endangered birds' nesting grounds. I just read that PBS on one island won't be able to install their digital equipment before tomorrow so antenna people will be without PBS for 2 weeks. I'm sure the news will have reports of people who can't receive the signals, etc although I think most people use cable since many places can't receive signals due to distance and mountains.

Anonymous said...

I know this is a little late..

The reason you didn't see improved picture quality when you hooked the converter box upto your HD television is because they only output a standard definition picture to the television.

To be eligible for the coupon program, a converter box must only output a standard definition single. The converters aren't allowed to have an HD output such as component video or HDMI.

As for your television. I can't be totally sure. As I don't even know which TV you have.

However, you should check to see if it's one of the ones with two antenna inputs. Some have separate antenna inputs for NTSC (analog standard definition) and ATSC (digital HD).

If it only has one antenna input both analog and digital singles will be mixed together. For example. If you have a channel 4 in your area the analog NTSC channel would show up as 4, however the digital ATSC channel would be 4-1.

It's obvious that during the test you were watching the analog NTSC version of the channel.


Close is good enough.