digital converter box -- surprising performance

David C Moisan
Sat Jun 14 12:46:37 EDT 2008

I'm in an apt. near the train station in Salem.  The rooftop antenna's decaying, so I have a UHF antenna pointed out the living room window looking SE.  I cannot get any analog TV except for WHDH.  I don't even have a working analog TV anymore--I watch from a DTV tuner card in my computer.

Digital is very dependent on the orientation of the antenna, which would make no sense because most of my signals are SSW to Needham.  (Back when the roof antenna worked, I could get WMUR, WENH and sometimes Ch. 8 but I don't consider that important.)

The only signal that is completely consistent is WBZ-DT.  I can mostly get WGBH-DT and WCVB-DT.  If I orient the antenna just right I get WHDH-DT and WGBX-DT. I cannot get Fox (WFXT-DT) at all;  they are on low power.  That's a consideration to remember;  many stations aren't fully set with their power and coverage for DTV.  WFXT has to move antennas around on the candelabra from what I've heard.  No coincidence that WBZ, GBH and CVB have the best ERPs on their DTV transmissions.

I got a coupon and just tried to use it on a Zenith box at Radio Shack, figuring I'd find an analog TV in the dumpster and put off a new TV for a while.  All sold out.

My coupon expires next week;  if it takes me six months to get a coupon, I'll just buy a new TV that I need anyway for my DVD.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Bob Nelson
Sent: Saturday, June 14, 2008 12:27 PM
To: Dan.Strassberg; Kevin Vahey; Garrett Wollman
Subject: Re: digital converter box -- surprising performance

A friend of mine is legally blind (can see but not well enough to drive, for example). He doesn't want to
pay for cable but uses rabbit ears and recently got one of the converter boxes but hadn't hooked it up
yet. The rabbit ears cost him $75 (!) a little while back and he has them up against the window of
his Salem high rise apartment. Channels 2 and 4 don't come in at all; 5, barely, 7, well. Of the
UHFs he has better luck, even picking up stations like Ch 24 (low power?) as well as 25, 38, 44,
56, 66, 68, etc. I don't know what kind of recep he'll get with the digital tuner (I think he got
a Magnavox)--this is just with the rabbit ears. Will it be as good?

By the way I don't know if this is a sign of the "digital wonderland" as Harry Shearer jokingly
refers to on his public radio show "le Show", but yesterday my cable (Comcast) kept going out.
No, not the whole thing, but while the description of the channel and program (I have the $4/month
box--bought so I can record with DVD recorder) DID show up, there was a black screen and
"the program will resume shortly" on each and every channel. Maybe a slight outage, or they
were doing technical work, but is this a sign of the future?

You're watching the very end of World Series, NBA Championship, or whatever, and suddenly
the picture goes out thanks to this wonderful digital setup on your cable (or, if you
don't get cable, you can't get a signal at all). So much for modern technology.
That's Comcast-ic! :P)

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