Sunday, August 31, 2008

Continuing Quest for PBS (and decent reception)

Cable & Satellite TV is something I refuse to pay more than say, $20 a month for. Less now that the number of actual, distinct channels offering different programming is shrinking. That's what has happened ever since the FCC cowered and allowed the old networks to buy up cable channels. Did this mean better programming? More channels? No. What happened is that now cable channels have homogenized. Bravo no longer shows arts. It shows more reality TV shows. Discovery Channel shows designing make-over shows. The Cartoon Network is showing live action shows. MTV doesn't play music anymore. Whatever was a hit on one station is replicated on all the others (since they're owned by the same companies). Yet the price keeps going up and up and the remaining good programming is always on the higher pricing tiers. No way... If I could just get the Daily Show and Food Network, I'd be fine. But it's not worth it. Netflix is.

However, the problem is, the over-the-air reception for my apartment is horrible. I can barely watch NBC, CBS and FOX, but no PBS. Since in 2009, we all must use over-the-air digital TV (analog goes bye-bye), I figured that perhaps a converter box would give me better reception and access to PBS (finally!)

The government is offering $40 coupon cards to folks needing to by converter boxes (which are about $60) Unfortunately, it's all a bit shady. You have only 3 months to use the card, and you can't return the box and get your card back if you want to return it and try another box. There are virtually no reviews or information available for which one to get, but the Insignia one available at Best Buy looked okay. I bought it and what I hoped would be a stronger antenna.

Hooked everything up. It scanned and found quite a few channels! Yay! Even PBS. Yay! But unfortunately, the signal was still not strong enough and for digital this means very choppy pixelated output and dropouts in sound -- much like a DVD that has been scratched. In some ways this is WORSE than analog, because at least there you can watch with some snow. I managed to get through most of a PBS show but it was a little painful. The picture was quite nice though, almost as clear as DVD.

Not sure if one can get a better indoor antenna or not... This apartment does not have a rooftop antenna as far as I know. Since I plan to move I guess I'm stuck with no PBS for now. Lovely.

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posted by Brian at 2:46 AM

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