Sunday, May 04, 2008

The shocking news about our new Digital-TV converter

I'm stunned.

It actually worked with our old rabbit ear antenna.

I was sure it wouldn't. I've been mentally composing and revising a blog post about political white lies and the analog to digital TV conversion. The dirty little secret, I was convinced, was that the subsidized Digital-TV converters would require a costly and fiddly outdoor antenna. That's what the directions for our $60 Digital Stream DTX9900 (RadioShack) said -- outdoor antenna.

So I plugged in my primeval $8.00 rabbit ears, expecting to get nothing at all. Instead I found we have two or three times the number of TV channels we used to have. (Ok, we'll never watch 90% of them -- but they exist. We just need a sports show for when my son earns TV time.)

Yes, I have to tweak the antenna for one or two of those channels, but I've needed considerably more gyrations to get a fuzzy analog signal. Our tiny little 12" TV now has a (relatively) stunning high quality image.

To add bemusement to astonishment, this is the first non-trivial device I've bought from Radio Shack that actually worked.

The rabbit ear has the flat connector prongs, so I have an RF plug adapter at the end of the rabbit ears. The RF adapter brings the digital antenna signal into the DTX9900, then a RCA component adapter carries the analog signal to our (half-broken) VHS/DVD player. From there another component connector goes to the TV.

The TV is set to get signal from video (it's just modern enough to have that option), the VHS/DVD deck gets its signal from 'L1' (the input from the DTX9900). So the tuner in the VHS deck is no longer in use, channel control is through the DTX9900 remote. The digital remote also provides some kind of program listing, the time of day, information on shows, and a volume control.

Note that you really don't want to lose or break the remote. Without the remote you can turn on the device and move up or down the channel list -- that's all.

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