Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

It’s good to be digital

We here at Tech–for Everyone Headquarters have been enjoying digital television for a week now, and I must say that I am glad we’ve finally joined the late 20th Century. I must say the recent technological advances may just spur the Powers That Be to break down and join the 21st Century and go “flat panel” and “Hi Def”. Wouldn’t that be something?

Loyal Friends and true of this blog will remember from last Friday’s article that I was looking for a solution to the question of what is going to happen to all of us — who have the ‘old school’ analog televisions — when the broadcasters stop transmitting analog signals (in 2009). And also, what about us folks who want to receive the digital signals, they’re already transmitting, now.
You will remember that the answer is to buy a new TV (with a digital “tuner” built in) or a set-top “box”. And an antenna. You will also remember that I could not find any evidence of the existence of set-top tuners, and that I invited my readers to help me out if they knew of any. Nobody did.
Because of that fact it appears that by 2009, every American is simply going to have to buy a new TV (with a digital “tuner” built in) and throw their current TVs in the landfill, or sign up with Comcast, DirectTV, or DishNetwork and pay for what we have been receiving for free all these many years.
Tip of the day: So, if you want to get rich, build a set-top digital “tuner” and sell it for $25-$35.. you’ll sell millions of them! I just cannot believe no one’s done this yet (that I can see).

We here at T4E H.Q. decided — like so many of us have — to sign up for a “bundle” of services; voice, video, and Internet, which is supposed to “save” us money, and the digital video we happened to go for was satellite. We now have 200 channels, and for a short trial-period we also get some of the “premium” movie channels. As I said, we’ve had this for a week now, and I can honestly say it is “good”.

There are a lot of benefits to “going digital” in our television broadcasts, not all of which mean a great deal to you and me. Things like “frequency allocations” and “limited spectrum blah blah blah” just doesn’t affect our daily lives.
But what does (to some small degree, anyway) is that the digital signal can carry much more information. What this means is our picture can be at a much higher resolution and our “color depth” can be greater. These things mean a sharper, brighter, and more colorful “viewing experience” (read, “picture”). I have found that this improvement is quite noticeable even on our old, analog TVs. Our picture has “pop” to it now.

Of course, to really step into the 21st Century, and get the most out of our digital signal, we really do need a television set that is capable of displaying the increased “rows” of resolution (called “1080i”) and giving us “Hi Def”. (And, take the digital-analog conversions out of the equation.)
Many of you have already made this purchase. The (typical) set no longer costs $6,000, [Do I really need say it? My first car cost me $600?] and are actually available for under a thousand now. And Christmas is coming up before too long…

And like so many of you have already, or probably will before too long, I have entered into the world of HDTV comparison shopping. A world of confusing jargon and too many choices — do we want plasma? LCD? DLP? And how about “viewing angles” and “artifacts” and “true blacks”?

I tell you, it just ain’t like the old days anymore. It used to be that you would go into the store and say, “I want a Zenith (or whatever brand you were loyal to), and I want the biggest one you got.”
No. Those days are gone, and gone forever.

And so, Dear Reader, I will go forth, and I will shop. I will research and explore. I will analyze the competing technologies and compare their features and benefits. From time-to-time, I will report my results and findings here… and maybe you will find my results helpful and time-saving. Maybe, Santa is thinking of a HDTV for your house too?

Today’s free link: today’s link is an alternative to Skype which, most of you know, is a program that allows you to place phone calls from your computer. Skpe also allows you to video chat with your friends and family (who have webcams and Skype), however the video component is not the greatest. If you do a lot of video chatting, or video “conferencing” and aren’t really satisfied with Skype as your free solution, try SightSpeed instead.

Copyright 2007 © Tech Paul, All Rights Reserved

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September 22, 2007 Posted by | advice, hardware, HDTV, shopping for, tech | Leave a comment