The Great TV Experiment Part 2: Free TV?

This is the part where some investment may come in. 

As you know, the big Digital Television switch is finally happening in June.  As mentioned in my previous post on the subject, I found that most of my television watching was on the major networks.  A listen to the Mayhem Show would tell you we dig on Heroes.  I would be out of the loop if I walked into the office the next day after The Office to get all of the in jokes we apply to eachother.  
So I applied for the Converter Box Coupons, and applied them to two boxes for my standard televisions for our two bedrooms.  (one for us,  one for guests).  Picked up a couple of antennaes, and here we go.  Yes, it was a bit of money to get the equipment we needed to watch everything available, but that’s as apposed to the $6 for satellite access to those channels, or the $20 or so for the stripped down cable stations that provide the same…and C-Span? 
Now, I grew up without cable or satellite until about ’96 when Primestar was finally an option.  So I grew up on about three stations.  Four when I messed around with rabid ears and watched my saturday morning Fox cartoons on a black and white television in the laundry room.  
So I found it rather ironic that I was relegating back down to the same tech.  But, to my amazement, I ran a channel scan and returned about 15 stations.  I have the typical stuff: NBC, Fox, ABC, MyNetwork, CBS, etc.  But the surprise was some of these “alternate channels” that are now available on the digital feeds.  
Basically, with the new digital signals, the local television stations have the ability to transmit more than one feed.  Some seem to just simulcast the standard definition versions of their main station.  Others, like WTAE, broadcast a local/national weather feed.  WPXI, my favorite use of the second feed, broadcasts the Retro Television Network.  I can watch Knight Rider and Incredible Hulk every night after work now.  WQED seems the most ambitious, as they put out an HD feed of their general station, and alternate “Create” station, and a local “Neighborhood” version.
The  most fantastic thing is, as I’ve heard about leading up to this switch, I understood that this is the best HD that you could receive today.  When you watch HD on your Satellite or Cable system, that signal is highly compressed to get you all of those stations.  On the over the air HD, that signal is uncompressed.  I spent ten minutes switching between the antennae and Dish signal for Jeapordy after first hooking up my antennae.  Fantastic.  
Yes, it sort of sucks that I don’t have DVR anymore.  Yes, I don’t have the ability to time shift my watching.  No, I can’t pause the show when my mom calls.  But there are some other options I’ll get into that can replace them.  

4 thoughts on “The Great TV Experiment Part 2: Free TV?

  1. I'm so happy someone appreciates 11-2's shows besides myself… but try to watch it on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. We're talkin' early Western TV shows. However, I have watched old Star Trek on there… Oh, and Simon & Simon at 11pm weekdays, btw.

  2. Oh, I've seen the Trek and Simon & Simon. But not as astonished as finding Airwolf this weekend…

  3. I use the over-the-air (OTA) digital broadcasts, too, and love all the content. 11-2, and the three WQED stations get most of my “channel flipping” viewing. (When I’m not turning on the TV for something specific, like House or The Office.)

    I found using cable didn’t improve my quality of life (just sucked away more of my time watching things I wasn’t really interested in.)

    And I’m still trying to explain to people that the OTA digital HD is the best HD you can get, and “to just please try it already!”

    The only thing I miss right now is the Pens games. (Grrr, stupid NHL licensing!) But, 105.9 The X and Mike Lange do a great job at getting me what I need for that.

    Thanks for exposing more people to the truth of OTA digital broadcasts!

  4. You can purchase a Tivo HD unit or Dish DTVpal DVR to get DVR with over the air.

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