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Old 07-01-2009, 09:08 AM   #1
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TV Is Digital TV Any Better?

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Television's recent transition from analog to digital transmission went smoothly at our house because, as I suspect is true of most households in this area, we get our signal via cable.

Frankly, even though I built my own crystal radio set as a small boy and was a radio operator in World War II, I haven't the slightest idea what the difference is between an analog and digital signal anyway. The government says digital TV will free up "spectrum space" for public-safety communications while enabling commercial broadcasters to produce a sharper image over even more channels. I'll take their word for it. Now if only somebody could come up with some programs worth watching.

Since we don't go out at nights that much anymore and a few hours of television before bed has become our main source of entertainment, my wife and I went a bit overboard by taking the deluxe package or whatever it's called from our cable company. I'm not sure how many channels we actually get. I've never counted them. They start with the local network stations followed by a seemingly endless selection of cable news, cooking, travel, science, sports and other special interest channels and end with more than a dozen versions of HBO, Cinemax, Starz and Showtime. Yet most evenings, there's nothing worth watching on any of them unless, of course, you enjoy watching people embarrass themselves by eating worms on one of those fake "reality" shows.

One night last week between 8 and 11 p.m. - the time slot generally referred to as "primetime" - CBS, NBC and ABC offered a choice of half hour situation comedies and hour "dramatic" shows that were all repeats of previous episodes. As for those "premium" movie channels, for the most part they play the same titles over and over for weeks on end. The only choice they provide is by playing them at different times which is really no choice at all since you can Tivo programs and play them back whenever you want.

There's no denying that since the television set began to replace the radio as the American family's favorite means of in-home entertainment in those days following the end of World War II its technological progress has been remarkable. Our first set was a 1950 Zenith that received a flickering black and white picture on a small 16-nch round screen. The improvements came so rapidly that it was difficult to keep pace. The picture went from black and white to color, screens not only grew larger but thinner, audio was expanded to stereo surround sound systems, remotes took over the controls and cable provided not only a better picture but dozens of new channels.

The only problem is that when it came to programming, television left its best days behind. TV's Golden Age was also in the 1950s when the sets of that era, antiques by today's standards, featured an abundance of creative programming un-equaled since. There was one evening, for example, when viewers could choose between Kraft Television Theater on ABC, Four Star Playhouse on CBS or Lux Video Theater on NBC. And those productions featured top performers like Paul Newman, Julie Harris, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Henry Fonda, George C. Scott, James Dean, Lee Remick and Grace Kelly, to name-drop just a few.

Then there were the variety shows, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Bob Hope, Jackie Gleason and, of course, the first sitcoms; "I Love Lucy", "Ozzie and Harriet", "Our Miss Brooks", "Father Knows Best"; shows that didn't need a phony laugh track to make you think they were funny. (Ozzie Nelson, incidentally, grew up in Ridgefield Park; Arthur Godfrey in Hasbrouck Heights.)

As a medium for news, television, along with the Internet, is fulfilling its potential to change the world. All-news channels such as CNN - and the network's foreign correspondents, even with the limited time allotted to them each evening - have been doing a superlative job of penetrating the curtain of censorship that tyrants have relied on to maintain their own power. The change for the better may be slow in coming but it is now eventually inevitable.

But as a medium for entertainment, television has been become a creative waste-basket from which the same hackneyed ideas are continually recycled. And as for those so-called situation comedies, the next time you watch one, try this: When the cackles from the laugh-track fill the room, ask yourself, "What are they laughing at?"

I'll bet that, like Molly used to tell Fibber on the old Fibber McGee and Molly radio show, you'll find yourself saying, "It ain't funny, McGee."
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:44 PM   #2
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Frankly I dont see the difference between digital and analog.
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:50 PM   #3
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I haven't noticed any real difference. (yes we've gone digital in Canada too!)
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:20 PM   #4
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if you hook your antenna and digital box you will definitely see the difference - when you get a good signal the digital is crystal clear - when the signal stinks you'll get the screen freezing and "blocking", which is invariably far worse than a little snow or a fuzzy analog picture.

of course, if you are on cable or satellite you were already on digital.
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:23 PM   #5
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I have cable, but haven't noticed any difference either.
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Old 07-01-2009, 11:30 PM   #6
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Madderest PBS - 1/3 of the picture is gone!

I've noticed that since the "Digital Transition" - every show on PBS - (at least here in Orlando) looks horrible! The Picture is zoomed in -- old shows like "Are you Being Served" for example, looks blurry. My main complaint is that a lot of the picture is missing! Credits for shows are falling off the edges of the screen - example - "Are You Being Served" ends up as " e you being serv " - I hate the whole "transition. It was Totally unnecessary - especially at a time when the economy is awful - most of the country was forced to by converter boxes or pay for cable TV - everything looks exactly the same except for channels (even though they had year to prepare) that cannot air shows in their proper TV ratio!!!! It is rediculous that ALL the shows on PBS are not being shown properly! I have trued to watch my fave Brit Coms and other shows but they are difficult to watch.
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Old 07-01-2009, 11:37 PM   #7
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Did anybody who lives in a small to medium-size city receive a significiant number of new channels? Not me.
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Old 07-02-2009, 10:48 AM   #8
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I haven't noticed any difference and I haven't received any new channels.
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Old 07-02-2009, 07:29 PM   #9
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Like everyone else I don't see any difference. Maybe I'll notice it if I upgrade my television to HDTV. I hate to pay the price and my regular (big back) tv works fine. Besides there's nothing on it to look at anyway. If I want to watch tv I'll just pop in a dvd or go to youtube.
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Old 07-02-2009, 10:51 PM   #10
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No difference here with cable at all, no new channels, no change in the picture. I get the 4 networks in scrambled HD(and have for over a year with my TV), which is perfect quality however(was stunned at how amazing it was when I first saw them).
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Old 07-02-2009, 11:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gidgetgrape
Did anybody who lives in a small to medium-size city receive a significiant number of new channels? Not me.
New channels? Thanks to the digital switch I now LOST about 10 channels thanks to my Comcast provider.
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Old 07-02-2009, 11:35 PM   #12
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I didn't have cable and I have an analog so I got a digital converter. On the channels I get I have great reception but its only the basic ones - but that's enough for me - I'm just interested in watching the news. For TV shows, I just crack out my DVDs.
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Old 07-02-2009, 11:35 PM   #13
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What 10 Channel's did you lose
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Old 07-03-2009, 12:06 AM   #14
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It only makes a difference if you have an HDTV and are watching the Digital Version of the broadcast.If you still have a Standard Def TV, you wont see the effect, especially if you are still on the analog version of station/network.

Right now, most cable operators are giving us both an Analog and Digital version of the same channels (I think they are mandated to).

We have just one HDTV right now. The rest are hooked directly with the cable in the back of the TV. The HDTV has a BOX, with DVR, so we can access the Higher channels and watch the HD Channels of most of the standard networks
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Old 07-03-2009, 12:14 AM   #15
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A lot of those issues may be with your HDTV and not the actual signal. Or even they type of cables you use to go from your cable box to the TV.

If you are on a Standard Def TV with an over the air cable box, then you may be right. I have not had a need to use that.

As for the need for the trasition. it was needed. We have had 13 years to prepare for it. It was not just something that came together over a year or two. The real benefit of DTV will come once the local station start to ustalize their spectrum for additional channels. Most NBC affiliates now carry the Universal Sports channel, which airs Olympic stayle sports. ION has 3-4 for additional channels for its affiliates and PBS has another 2 or 3 available.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vbear
I've noticed that since the "Digital Transition" - every show on PBS - (at least here in Orlando) looks horrible! The Picture is zoomed in -- old shows like "Are you Being Served" for example, looks blurry. My main complaint is that a lot of the picture is missing! Credits for shows are falling off the edges of the screen - example - "Are You Being Served" ends up as " e you being serv " - I hate the whole "transition. It was Totally unnecessary - especially at a time when the economy is awful - most of the country was forced to by converter boxes or pay for cable TV - everything looks exactly the same except for channels (even though they had year to prepare) that cannot air shows in their proper TV ratio!!!! It is rediculous that ALL the shows on PBS are not being shown properly! I have trued to watch my fave Brit Coms and other shows but they are difficult to watch.
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