Mostly I like progress. No, really, I am a tech stuff junkie. However the switch to digital TV creates some problems for rural areas.
19 Jun 2009 at 18:27
We have a cabin outside Phoenix, far enough out that the nearest TV station is really far away — like 60 miles, and we could usually get 2-3 stations (well really only 1 unless you don’t mind snow). But with the switch to digital TV and the digital signal, the marginal stations are just gone. The automatic hunt-for-stations sees that there is _something_ there, but it doesn’t show up.
This is because analog signals are left to interpretation by the viewer, and the human mind is one of the best pattern matchers ever created. The digital signal must show up in a near-perfect form to be interpreted by the digital machinery to create that perfect picture. The digital signal is compressed, and so if you miss a chunk, you often miss frames. Even with cable service, you can often see little digital dropout artifacts.
With an analog signal, you can lose more than half the information and still be able to see the show. And the audio comes in badly, but you can understand it. On the digital side, you need substantially more signal to come in clearly, so the digital apparatus can decode, decompress, remogrify, and blend together the digital soup into an image.
So the bottom line is that for folks living in deep fringe reception areas, there’s the satellite-based services like DirecTV and Dish Network. And, there is one other possibility: Some of us who are in fringe areas manage to have high speed internet, but no cable. If you have internet (NOT dialup and NOT Satellite-based), then you can buy a Slingbox from Sling Media. This nifty little device attaches to your home cable or satellite TV box and then lets you watch it on your laptop (or computer) from anywhere you can get high speed internet. This is what we use in our cabin — In fact, we have an HD monitor there for DVDs, and I just hook the video out from my laptop to the TV and watch Phoenix cable. It isn’t HD quality, but it is WAY better than the analog noise or digital darkness.
Otherwise, rent a DVD, or better yet, read a book.
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