It’s June 12. In the United States, by midnight tonight, broadcast television will be completing the transition from analog to digital. That means that outside of a couple of low-wattage local stations, all television broadcasts will require a TV with a digital tuner to receive.
For those who have cable or a dish, you shouldn’t notice anything different. When hooked up to to non-digital televisions, the cable/DSS box handles the digital to analog signal conversion, allowing you to watch normally.
Those like myself, however, who rely on an antenna for television reception aren’t so lucky. If you haven’t already purchased one, you’re going to need a digital-to-analog converter box in order to receive any TV programming. Depending on your distance from the transmitters, you may also need to purchase a higher-gain UHF antenna to get in all the stations you’re used to.
AntennaWeb has a wonderful utility to find out what kind of antenna you’ll need. For those of you who are handy with tools, you may even want to try building your own antenna. There are a number of plans available online, but I had some great results with the plans featured on Make Magazine’s Web site. I made a couple of small changes in the materials (such as using 14-gauge copper wire rather than clothes hangers and carriage bolts rather in place of wood screws), but I still came out under $25 for the whole project.
A couple of casualties…
While standard TV viewing is affected, there are other victims to this changeover, as well. The first is television recording. All VCRs (as well as some DVD and hard disk based recorders) will also be affected as they, too, receive and record analog signals. While you can hook up your converter box to these and record, the process is rather complex.
The other thing we lose is the portable television set. These units almost never have built-in digital decoders, and very few of them have external antenna inputs. Even if they did, you’d still lose portability because there are very, very few converter boxes available that don’t require a wall outlet.
Elgato to the rescue.
Fortunately, both problems can be addressed with the EyeTV units from Elgato. I talked about them last year in an in-depth article, and all the information is still relevant.
As both the EyeTV Hybrid and the EyeTV 250 Plus allow you to record DTV transmissions, you can easily record all your favorite programs for viewing later, even burning to DVD for easy television playback. You can also do something you can’t do with conventional recording devices: you can convert those programs for viewing on your iPod or other portable device.
While there’s little that can be done to adapt your existing portable television for digital broadcasts, combining the EyeTV Hybrid and your laptop Mac allows you to use your MacBook/MacBook Pro for television on the go, while also allowing you to play back programs you’ve saved, as mentioned above.
We’ve told you how to get around these setbacks with the DTV transition, but we’re going to go one step further. Right now, we’re extending the special price for the EyeTV Hybrid that would normally be reserved for our Newsletter subscribers to you, our Blog readers, as well. Of course, if the Hybrid doesn’t quite meet your system’s needs, we’ve got great pricing on all the Elgato items in stock.
Of course, the best way to be in on all the great deals is to subscribe to the OWC Tips n’ Deals and Hot Deals Blast newsletters. Rest assured that your e-mail information will only be used for the purpose of sending the newsletter emails, and nothing else.
Now that you’ve got the tools (and a great deal), go enjoy the advanced programming that Digital Television offers!