DTV—The Improvement that Wasn’t

Living in the geographical center of nowhere, we use an antenna for our TV reception. Yes, we could get a satellite, but we’re too cheap. It’s hard to beat free.

December of 2007 we had to replace our TV. Knowing that DTV was coming, we purchased one that had both analog and digital tuners. We were prepared. Kinda.

In February 2009 we discovered a slight problem. We had asked several difference “experts” about using a VCR after the switch. We were assured that it wouldn’t be a problem. It was. You see, despite the fact that we explained that we would be taping programs to watch later, what the “experts” all evidently heard was, “Can we play pre-recorded tapes on our VCR?” We know this because we were told that as long as we had a digital TV we were fine. Wrong.

We bought a box for our VCR. Now we were all set. Right? Wrong. We discovered that with the converter box on we couldn’t watch one program while taping another. No problem. We split the signal so that it’s going directly into the TV and directly into the box.

Ah, now we’re happy. Well, not so much. You see, in order to record a digital program the VCR must be set to channel 4 and the converter box set to the channel the program is on. That means if I want to tape ABC from 8 to 9, then CBS from 9 to 10, I have to manually change the converter box. If one of us isn’t going to be home to change the channel on the converter box, we have to choose one channel for the whole evening.

Oh, but the signal is clearer, and you’ll have so many more channels. Not really. There’s no snow; there’s no signal at all. We used to get 21 channels from 4 different cities. Now we get some from two. Yes, there are 2 Channel 15s (CBS & weather), 3 Channel 21s (ABC, CW, & weather), and 3 Channel 13s (NBC, MyNdy, and weather), plus 3 others. Frankly, the weather channels are pretty much all the same. In case you’re keeping count, we’ve gone from 21 channels to 11. I have no more Fox. I have no PBS stations. That’s not much of an improvement.

I’m still trying to figure out why the government insisted that every station make this change. If I were someone who believed in conspiracy theories, I’d consider that maybe someone was trying to force all of us to pay for TV signals. Good thing I’m not into conspiracies. Not really. Not yet.

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