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TV Reception Could Get Worse

If you're still not set for digital TV, it's time to tune in people. I'm talking both literally and figuratively. Even those of you who think you're all set could be in for a surprise this coming friday.

With only a few days to go, there are going to be many people left in the dark. Why? Cause this is not an exact science and even though you may have gotten a converter box, there are lots of reasons why your reception could be problematic.

The federal government is nudging television broadcasters into the digital realm to free up analog spectrum to be repurposed for public safety communications. Experts consider this a landmark transition and a long-term boon for consumers.

Yet this is unexplored territory for many - some on limited incomes with scant technical skills. The transition requires many TV watchers to make some adjustments they are unfamiliar with, including obtaining
digital converter devices that connect to aging analog TV sets and connecting antennas to these converter boxes so they will properly pull in the digital broadcasts. All of this can be tricky, even for the tech-savvy, so at least some angst and confusion is guaranteed Friday. In addition, if you haven't ordered the $40 federal converter coupons to defray that expense, you are now out of time to receive them before the cutoff (Friday).

The second major issue confronting local DTV transition coordinators can be summed up in a single word: reception. Because of a maddening variety of factors - some beyond home viewers' control - pulling in every available digital station in a region can be hit or miss.

Buying the right antenna and setting it up properly can become an ordeal, too. Sometimes home users will buy fancy, pricey antennas only to discover that basic, low-cost ones work better. In other cases, consumers must upgrade from indoor antennas to outdoor ones positioned higher for better reception.

I'm not trying to sell gloom and doom. This is a heads-up! I just want everyone to be aware that this transition has the potential to be a bit on the rough side. My only suggestion other than to have a converter box in hand is to be patient. Once the cut over takes place, THEN you can set about trying to improve your reception.

Stay tuned (figuratively) as we go through this together.

Digital TV Surfing Slow as Hell

Don't blame that box for the fact that you can't channel surf at a decent speed...

This is a limitation imposed by digital broadcast technology. Gone are the days when you can just click away and surf the channels as fast as you can press the buttons on your remote.

Channel latency - also known as zap time is the total time it takes from the moment the viewer presses the channel change button, to the point where the picture of the new channel is displayed and the sound is activated. These kinds of delays exist in all television systems, but they are much greater in digital television broadcasts and it takes a lot longer to view the channel you just surfed to.

You may recall from the Questions page that digital TV can recover from small pieces of missing or garbled signals and guess what the missing pieces are. This is done through buffering and codec factoring. To accomplish this feat, your set must sample a bit of the digital signal, decode it, verify it's accuracy and if necessary, correct the signal, and then display it on the screen and send the audio portion to your speakers. There's a lot going on here and it takes some time to do all these things.

There is no way around this (at this point in time) and it's one of the trade-offs to digital broadcasting. Frustrating - yes! My advice: Accept, Adapt, Adjust.

BTW, this is yet another reason to pick a box that has an exceptional EPG (electronic program guide). Reduce the need to surf by knowing which program you want to watch and surfing directly to that channel. The Lasonic LTA-260 is a good choice for this feature - provides you with a description of upcoming shows for all channels over the next few hours.

List of CECB Manufacture Model Numbers

NTIA Approved Converter Device List: [nla]=No Longer Available

ALPHA DIGITAL AT2016APEX DT250 * CEA-909 Smart Antenna Support
Access HD DTA1020A-D [nla]Access HD DTA1020U
AccessHD DTA1010DAccessHD DTA1080U
AccessHD DTA1030D [nla]AccessHD 1080D
Access HD 1030U [nla]Apex DT502
Apex DT1001Artec T3A
Artec T3AP [nla]CADENCE DTV9C
Channel Master 7000.
COSHIP N9900T [nla]COSHIP N9988T
CRAIG Electronics CVD506 * with Smart Antenna Jack
DIGITALSTREAM DSP7500TDIGITAL STREAM DSP7700T *
DIGITAL STREAM DTX9900 [nla]DIGITAL STREAM DTX9950 *
DIGITAL STREAM DX8700 *DISH Network DTVPal *
Dish Network TR-40CRAKingbox K8V8 MAG CCB7701
GE 23333GE 23334
GE 22729GE 22730
Goodmind DTA1000 [nla]Gridlink GLT-200
Insignia NS-DXA1.
Kingbox K8V1Lasonic LTA-260
Lasonic LTR-260.
Magnavox TB100MG9 
Magnavox TB100MW9 [nla]Memorex MVCB1000 *
MicroGEM MG2000 [nla]Philco TB100HH9 *
Philco TB150HH9 *RCA DTA-800B1
.Sansonic FT-300A
Sansonic FT300RTSpica AT2018
Sun Key SK-801ATSCTivax STB-T9
VENTURER STB7766G [nla]WINEGAURD RCDT09A
WINEGARD RC-1010 [nla] 
ZINWELL ZAT-970ZINWELL ZAT-970A *
Zenith DTT900Zenith DTT901 *
Zentech DF2000 [nla] 


* The manufacturer has indicated that these models are capable of passing analog signals through to the TV set.

How to Install a Digital to Analog DTV Converter Box

One picture is worth a thousand words...
image of how to install a tv converter box

Are All TV Converter Boxes Created Equal??

image of an idiot
What a idiotic question - but I hear it all the time.

Of course there are differences between boxes. Just look at price points and all the manufacturers - even the numerous model numbers for any given manufacturer. THAT alone should tell you there's a boat load of differences.

The trouble however, is trying to decipher what differences and features are most important to you. Not everyone has the same needs or requirements.

It's surprising how many people just buy the first thing shoved under their noses. Not only are there differences between features and options, there are some major differences with the interior guts of these things. Some of them chips inside those boxes do some great things - other's just fill up space on the logic boards.

Before you make a purchase decision, it would be worthwhile to visit the
Questions & Answers page to learn about these contraptions, and then scoot over to the Converter Boxes page and compare the different models to find one that best suits your needs.

Wide range of CECB boxes available

There are plenty of TV converter boxes to be had. Lots of manufacturers - tons of models. Some good, some not so good. This blog will answer the question: which tv converter box is the best.

Find reviews and recommendations here to help guide you through this new technology and locate the Best TV Converter Box.