Best Buy Has HDTV Converter Boxes!
Just got my TV Converter Box coupons from DTV2009.gov and marched up to Best Buy and picked up the Insignia NS-DXA1 model they are offering.
Okay, here's the basic game plan, people:
If you've been paying attention you know that you have less than a year before the analog TV spectrum goes dark.
Each household is entitled to request two HDTV converter box coupons through DTV2009.gov.
They are fairly easy to hook up - similar to hooking up a VCR. You connect rabbit ears or an outside antenna to the antenna in connector and then either run an RF line to your TV's antenna in to use analog Channel 3 (like with the original VCR's from the early '80's - remember those?) or you can go more sophisticated and connect your video, audio right and audio left RCA lines to your TV or even the Video/Audio input lines of your VCR.
You can do an auto-search as you would do with your analot TV tuner to find out what local channels you can pick up.
The general rule is this - if you have a fairly strong analog signal for a particular channel (little snow), you're going to have a really good signal on digital. If you have a good signal on digital the picture will be ROCK solid - no snow, no ghosting, etc.
If you have a QUESTIONABLE analog signal, you may or may not get anything on digital. For instance I can pick up all the full-power Cincinnati channels, but only a couple of the Dayton channels.
Also, when an digital signal starts to go south (weather conditions, passing traffic, etc.), it doesn't turn to static. First that seems to happen, believe it or not, is that the audio starts to cut in and out. THEN you get "digital noise".
Yes, your picture starts to "melt" like something out of The Wizard of Oz. Big clumps of pixels start to fall out of the picture and then if it gets REALLY bad the picture will go out altogether.
However, like I said, if it was a strong signal on analog, it's going to be a strong signal on digital.
For each analog channel there are generaly 2 - 4 digital channels. This is particularly true of the PBS channels. I think the way it works is that you can have have one HD signal running simultaneously with two SD signals or four SD signals simultaneously.
In any event, if you are in an area where you can pick up a good number of strong analog stations, you need to get you one of these converter boxes and check out all the stuff they're running.
Some of the PBS stuff even looks decent.
Oh, yes, and some of this HD and SD "sub-carrier" traffic IS on cable and satelite. For instance, some people don't realize that the "CinCW" is a sub-carrier of WKRC. It's on cable and satellite of course, but there are a great number of other stations (Channel 43 for instance) that I am able to pick up with this box that are decidedly NOT on cable. Although it looks like Channel 43 is carrying FOUR religious channels that I'd just as soon not watch in the first place, but you get the idea.
Anyway - check it out and report back to me on what you're able to pick up!