Up in the sky, it’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s… OTA HDTV


Ok.  We are finally here.  After a false start in February, today is the date that all TV stations must switch from broadcasting analog signals over the air (OTA) to broadcasting in HD.  For those who receive their TV from either cable, satellite or through their telephone provider, this is a non-issue.  However, it many households that receive their TV signal via an OTA signal are unprepared. 

WHERE DO I START and WHY?

Lets answer the WHY first.  How much do you pay for your TV signal?  Right now, I pay about $98 per month for a fairly basic digital cable package from Comcast.  We get 200+ channels, none of which are premium content.  $1200 per year for TV, most of which is crap.  The fact is we spend an excessive amount of time in front of our television sets. 

My children, both of whom are in elementary school, wield our Comcast remote control with the skill of a classical violinist.  They were stunned to learn that not only did I not have “on demand” but that there was no Hannah Montana or iCarly.   That being said, I did have Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans.  You can imaging their reaction when I informed them that we only could see three channels on our black and white TV set and that I was the remote control.

If nothing else, switching to an OTA signal can save you money and should promote other activities.  In 2007, The US Bureau of Labor Statistics released a study reporting that  “Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time (2.6 hours per day), accounting for about half of leisure time, on average, for those ages 15 and over”.  Socializing was the next most common leisure activity representing about 45 minutes per day.  No information was provided on how much time people spent per day looking for my blog updates

OK- so where do I start?  First, you should determine what equipment you currently have on hand.  The US government website is a good starting point.  At the very least, you can register to get your coupon for a converter box

For more information, I recommend visiting HDTVantennalabs.com.  This site is very helpful for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the tool that helps you find stations in your area and then identify the best antenna and other equipment you might need.  Things to understand and mistakes to avoid when buying an HDTV antenna.  They also provide additional information on the “color zones” associated with the various antenna types.  Among the things I learned was that the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has defined seven color zones – Yellow, Green, Light Green, Red, Blue, Violet, and Pink.  Yellow zone is the one where reception quality is the best, pink zone is the worst.  It should be noted that the CEA classifications only apply to outdoor tv antennas.

A link to antennaweb.org is provided where you can input your own street address and get a graphic showing the signals available to you with strength ratings.  As you can see, the Obama’s have a number of options available to them should they decide to make the switch. 

OTA HDTV Signals available at the Whitehouse

OTA HDTV Signals available at the Whitehouse

One final note, While many people have purchased HDTV “ready” TV’s, unless the set comes with a built in HD Tuner, then it lacks the ability to convert the broadcast signal into a viewable picture.  If you haven’t purchased a new TV yet, or are looking to get one in the near future (come on the economy needs a boost!!!) might I suggest one with a built in tuner. They may end up costing you a bit more, but it will be one less piece of equipment you need to purchase. 

If you are interested in more information, here are a number of other useful sites.

Crutchfield.com

Solidsignal.com

TVFool.com    

The Fishpond

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