|Hawes Mechanical Television Archive||
DTV Changeover FAQ, Part 5
DTV Technology Questions
Some of us use rabbit ears right on the set. Do the rabbit ears bring in analog shows? Then rabbit ears will probably work for digital TV, too. But there's one exception. Your rabbit ears might be built into the TV. For the non-technical, connecting built-in rabbit ears to the converter could be troublesome. If so, then buying a new set of rabbit ears might be the easy way out. Again, plain, old rabbit ears will do the job. Don't let the "nice salesman" sell you anything deluxe and expensive.
QUESTION. I really need a new antenna. What type works best with a DTV box?
ANSWER. We've had good luck with multi-bay bow tie antennas. The pickup area on these antennas is fairly broad. If your stations aren't all in line, the bow tie is definitely the way to go. The indoor unit has two bow ties. This antenna is small and fits on or near the set. A typical outdoor unit might have two, four or eight bow ties. If you're in a weak signal area, go for the eight-bay bow tie.
The manufacturers cut these bow tie antennas for the UHF stations. In our area, near a large city, the bow ties do well with VHF signals, too. But if you're persnickety, you'll need a separate VHF antenna. Also, if you're in an area where stations are on different compass points, you'll need a rotator.
QUESTION. Is digital TV really better?
ANSWER. It's better than no television. That's the choice that our government is giving us.
Technical differences. There are many technical differences between analog and digital television. For some people, these differences might give one or the other technology an advantage. Here are a few examples...
QUESTION. What about HDTV? Is that really better?
ANSWER. The answer depends on what you expect, and what you're trying to do with your television set. The wide screen picture seems to be a better shape for viewing with two eyes. At a normal viewing distance, the screen provides imagery for both eyes. For that reason, the elongated, rectangular picture shape gives HDTV a slight advantage.
The HDTV picture has a considerably higher resolution than standard-definition television has. Yet this extra resolution might not be useful. Viewing tests prove that this resolution is only visible when you're close to the screen. A typical, normal viewing distance is four to six times screen height. At that distance, most people can't see the difference between SDTV and HDTV! As an "advantage," then, high definition is mostly hype.
For decades, the television industry has known the basic facts on viewing distance and screen definition. RCA performed the research in the 1930s. This might seem like an old story. Why wouldn't newer research be helpful? Because human vision hasn't measurably improved since RCA's research. We can only conclude that the main reason for higher definition is to promote sales. Not surprisingly, an HDTV is a high-margin appliance.
QUESTION. My TV set doesn't have a 75-ohm jack. Instead, my TV has two screw-like connectors for an antenna. How do I connect the converter?
ANSWER. Your TV is the type that accepts 300-ohm, balanced twinlead antenna wire. The converter box output connects to 75-ohm, unbalanced coaxial cable. The plug at the output side of this cable is an "F" connector. You need a cable adapter that we call a "balun" transformer (for balanced and unbalanced.) Follow these steps...
QUESTION. Does my VCR need a converter, too?
ANSWER. The answer depends on how you use your VCR. The same rules apply to DVD recorders and TiVo recorders...
You don't need a converter if you...
You need a converter if you...
QUESTION. Can I watch DTV before the changeover?
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Copyright © 2008 by James T. Hawes. All rights reserved.