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Next episode - Digital TV transition - Got questions?

by acedtect / July 31, 2007 9:05 AM PDT

In 2009 the analog TV signal will go dark and you'll either need cable/satellite or a digital TV tuner to receive broadcast television.

In the next episode I'll try to line out what people need to worry about in an easy way, so you can pass this episode along to friends and family.

So I realize this is a US-specific topic, but it's a pretty big one. I'll try to summarize similar issues elsewhere at the end.

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HD for Free!
by techpriest / July 31, 2007 11:23 PM PDT

I live in Britain, so of course 99% of this stuff won't apply to me, however i have a cousin in SF who currently gets Comcast HD DVR and comcasts most speedy internet package. He is also lucky that when in his house, the house was built with gigabit ethernet cables EVERYWHERE . So when his family were thinking about buying some equipment for over the air HD i recommended the "HD home run" which is a networked HD Over-the-air reciever so no my cousin can get his comcast HD in his living room, but can get his Over the Air HD, anywhere with a computer! Also, so you have help people in the UK. The UK Digital transition will start becoming finalised (by that i mean standard non digital signals get switched off) in 2008 and ends in 2012. There are three options for UK people. 1: Sattelite from SKY (owned by Newscorp like DirecTV but uses different technology and better DVR software since tivo doesnt exist in the UK). 2. Freeview: Think of the name, just pure digital and free tv channel goodness, some freeview channels will be offered in 1080i or 720p flavours when the digital transition ends. 2: Cable from the UK's ONE cable company: Virgin Media, CableCard doesnt exist in the UK so you are stuck with the cable company DVR (built by scientific atlanta so but the software is so much better than US scientific atlanta) if you want DVR service but they offer standard def, Hi-def and of course on demand services. Cable is probably the best solution for UK people if you can get it and afford it since Virgin Media uses a FIOS type Fibre network to deliver internet, phone and cable (oh, and virgin media owns a small MVNO) so its got all the fibre advantages. However, SKY offers more HD channels and their HD box is said to have a better channel upconverter than virgin media, also, if you subscribe to SKY's DSL service, within the next year or two they will network these boxes like tivo to get on-demand. Another digital tv provider also exists in the UK-BT-Vision. This is essentially tivo series 2 for freeview. Standard freeview channels with DVR plus over-DSL on demand, kinda like U-verse, only they don't actually offer any OTA channels. For freeview DVR there is a new OTA DVR standard called "Freeview Playabck" which is a sign of a minimum level of quality on OTA DVR boxes in terms of Hardware, Software and "future-proofing" to last through the swith-off"

Keep up the great podcast


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wide screen
by kookjr / August 1, 2007 9:47 AM PDT

This may be off topic, but since many new digital TVs are 16x9 format, I would like you to cover what happens to TV shows recorded in 4x3 format. I saw this on a friends TV this weekend, and they looked a little "stretched", and there were no black areas on either side of the picture.


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A generalisation of the subject
by raftos / August 1, 2007 10:41 AM PDT
In reply to: wide screen

I was happy to see the subject for the next episode, though not so much for the post which makes clear it will only be based in the US case.
Anyway, there's a few questions regarding my local case (Argentina) which either on the podcast or here I'm eagerly looking to answers.

- The choice for a digital norm is still to be made in Argentina. There's the japanese, the european and the US one. Each one, emphazises it advantages in slightly biased news reports. Anyone have any kind of objetive information about their differences?
- Do digital Tv have the tuner not included and it is only available via a separate box provided by the cable operator? How do they work with over the air TV?
- Is it a digital signal a synonim with HD? Or digital can be SD?

Thank you all

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Digital Technology
by ek676 / August 1, 2007 11:55 PM PDT

I am very excited that you will be covering this topic in your next episode. As the child of non-TV watching parents, a new HDTV (or HDTV tuner, or TiVo HD, or DVD Recorder) is out of the question, and so I have been waiting patiently for over two years for digital-to-analog convertor boxes to become available. I'll be the first in line for the coupons come Jan 1.

What I was wondering about is how does over the air (OTA) digital TV transmission work? Why can digital channels be placed closer together, freeing up that lovely 700Mhz spectrum? This question should apply to all countries' digital TV transistions.

On a more political note, I don't think that the transition will be a big deal. Once people find out about the benefits of digital TV and that they can get it for a ~ $20 box that they need to hook up to thier TV, they will become ready for the Feb. 2009 deadline. The reason so few people depending on OTA are digital ready now is because the only reasonable way to be so has been to shell out for a new TV.

Looking forward to the episode.

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Digital transition questions and digital tuners for Mythtv
by technomensch / August 5, 2007 1:26 PM PDT

Here's the situation. For almost a year now, I've been putting off setting up a Mythtv box, and now with, I really want to give it a try.

But, of course there is a catch. All of my tv's are analog and my cable company recently announced the broadcasting of digital channels. I can get them in the one room with the cable box, but not the one connected to the tivo. Although that probably has something to do with the fact that they threw the channels into the 700-800 range.

Meaning if 53 is comedy central on analog, 753 is digital comedy central.

A) Are these channels supposed to be accessible on the Tivo S2 as well, or not?
B) Am I eventually going to need to add an extra box to connect to the S2 just to get a signal? (note the key word, "eventually") Or do I need to look into getting a digital tuner ready tv within the next 2 years?

C) I live in a bullseye for hurricanes down here in South Florida. How can I tell if all my local stations are broadcasting in digital and if I need to replace all my portable tvs with new digital ones so I don't lose touch with the outside world?

D) Even though I'm going to be connecting to an analog TV, should I be looking at getting a digital tuner card instead? Will I get all my basic channels (meaning no premiums or VOD, but Comedy Central, Food/Travel/Discovery, Sci-Fi, Spike, USA, FX, etc...) if I go with the digital card?

Originally I was going to go with the Hauppauge 150-250-350-or 500, but now I don't know. And if I go with the analog, won't I just have to replace it in a few years if not sooner?

According to

It doesn't look like there is much linux support out for these cards yet and I'm still a linux novice.

E) Finally, how am I going to be able to explain this in laymen's terms to my techno-illiterate family and convince them they have to do this? Aren't there supposed to be news stories and specials, maybe on like 60 minutes or Dateline or Larry King, or even the Daily Show. Something to help get the word out because unless you've got your ears to the tech grindstone, you don't really know this is coming.

Thanks in advance.


Marc K.
Coral Springs.

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