If you’re a basic cable subscriber, you should get a digital TV converter instead

March 15, 2008

I read somewhere (New York Times?) that broadcast HDTV, converted to old 3:4 TV format, is very crisp and clear.

In fact, it is. I wasn’t too optimistic because we live in a sort of a bowl, and analog TV reception was never that good. But Circuit City was gung-ho with their return-it-if-it-doesn’t-work, so I gave it a try. I bought a cheap ($10, just an expensive wire) UHF antenna, and used AntennaWeb to figure out how to align it. And hey, it worked. We get WGBH in old-style and letter-box format, we get all the other TV stations that we don’t watch, and we get WGBX in about 4 different flavors (World, Create, Kids, and regular).

The alignment and obscuring of the antenna do matter; if I stick my hand in front of it, I get badness on the screen.

Additional information: not only do we live in a bowl, we are also in the footprint of a 50 KW AM radio station, which tends to get into everything, but the digital signal still works well.

Before you buy one of those converters, you should request your (one or two) vouchers. It takes a while to get them, the program may run out of money, you may need to certify that you do not have cable. It takes a while to receive them, too. So, you may need to buy from someone who will take the voucher later, you may need to do without cable for a while.

The converter we bought is a Zenith DTT900, and it worked as well for us as this review claims.

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