Friday, January 2, 2009

Dawn of Digital

A few weeks ago, I interviewed FCC lawyer Katherine Power about the upcoming switch to digital television (the switch is a way to free up analog signal for police and safety signals, as well as more wireless devices).

As part of a 80-city FCC tour, Power came to Memphis to dispel myths about the switch. In my interview with her, she re-iterated that if you have cable or satellite, you won't need a digital converter box (altho, in the exception that proves the rule, if you have satellite and you're getting your local channels over the air, you will.)

She also advised antenna-users to go ahead and hook up a digital converter box now. Analog televisions won't go black until February 17th (when television stations begin broadcasting in only digital) but she said there was no reason to wait.

She was completely right. I hooked up my digital converter box over the holidays and it is awesome. I was actually just using my TV's built-in antenna (yep, it's pretty low tech over at Casa de Cash) and my stations would always come in grainy and fuzzy. Watchable, but just barely.

Now, all my stations — with the exception of Channel 5, which I've heard isn't yet broadcasting at full capacity — are better than watchable. They're beautiful. I mean, it's not HD or anything, but there's no fuzz. No grain. No wavy lines across Gossip Girl. Just a clear-as-day picture.

My picture is smaller than my TV screen, which I think is odd, but other than that, my switch to digital is a success.

If you need to get a rebate coupon for a converter or have questions about the switch, visit the FCC here.

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