Some fun with other-the-air-DTV this weekend...
As I have said in various columns and stories, if you have cable or a satellite service, the digital transition in June should leave you undisturbed. But I still get the occasional call from people who are dealing with over-the-air antennae and the digital-to-analog boxes. In addition, as broadcasters take full advantage of digital, they're going to be offering secondary channels that may not find their way onto other service providers. Channel 43, for example, has added THIS, a movie channel; Christian station WDLI has four channels with various programming besides its main channel. So to be better able to address issues as the transition looms, I have taken one of my TV sets off cable and instead connected it to an antenna and a digital-analog box. And so began my big TV adventure.
I started with an Apex box and a simple, unamplified, indoor RCA antenna in the upstairs bedroom. It picked up a fair number of channels, including the Fox and CBS stations in Youngstown. But some things came in erratically, including Channel 5 here, or not at all (Channels 3 and 19), and there appeared to be a lot of breakup in the signal. I decided to try a better, amplified antenna although I am staying with an indoor one.
The second, amplified antenna proved much better, bringing in everything from the previous antenna plus Channels 8 and 43 (including that THIS movie channel) and a less-breakup-prone Channel 5. Still no 3 or 19, although 19 is somewhat less of a problem since I can get the CBS programming from Youngstown. (In fact, a fella called the paper not long ago and asked us to reinstate our listings for Youngstown stations because he was getting them digitally, but could not get Channel 3.) Those problems may be worked out as the digital transition is completed, but I'll be looking at it more closely.
As for reception and all that, the antenna does seem a bit sensitive, going funny occasionally when I move around the room. But the picture is quite good even on an old analog TV set, and the sound -- which I am also piping through a stereo receiver -- is excellent. It's fine for the little viewing that we do on the set. I don't have a DVR this way, but that's a minor consideration since I have other TV sets on cable and DVR. Hooking up and programming the box was very simple, as was connecting the antenna. I'll talk more about this as we get closer to the transition. And will now be much better prepared for reader questions.