Trouble with digital TV?

broken TVDonna emails, "in a bit of a rage":

I had antennae for years and was content with their grainy, faded images. I was most pleased that my infrequent television watching was free. So, naturally, when the big switch to digital came, I made the transition using the bare minimum: a converter box and my existing antennae. Boy, am I sorry.
One cannot watch a single thirty-minute program without the imagine freezing, the sound clipping in and out, or the sounds and images falling out of synch from one another. And just when you get a good ten minutes of TV time without getting out of your seat to adjust the antennae, the screen will go blue and you'll find yourself balancing the antennae on a vase in the corner of the room knowing full well that it's not going to work but you're blind with rage because you missed the funny thing Abe Lincoln said to Marry Todd in that new Geico commercial. Which is a silly thing to be so angry over, but you're angry because you're powerless against it.
AOA, I'm sorry to be writing you while I'm angry. I'm not even a big fan of television. I just need to know that I'm not the only one suffering from this poorly planned "upgrade". Is it a problem that only hits certain pockets of Albany? Has there been any backlash, an uproar of any sort that I've somehow missed? Or has everyone with antennae complacently done what the cable companies were silently giddy over ... have they gone and bought basic cable?

Anyone have thoughts, suggestions, rallying cries for Donna? Please share!

We've heard from a few people that they've had trouble picking up some of the broadcast channels since the switch. Apparently putting an antenna on the roof or in the attic helps -- but you know, that involves ladders and whatnot.

The government's digital TV transition site has tips for using rabbit ears and signal strength maps.

By the way: the basic cable package that includes the broadcast channels is about $12/month, though you won't find that on TWC's site -- you have to call to ask about it.

Also, @go_phish recently asked about getting when RoadRunner customers here will be able to get ESPN3, ESPN's online channel (it's currently blocked). TimeWarner and Disney, which owns ESPN, worked out a new deal in September for the continued carriage of the entertainment company's various channels. ESPN3 was part of the deal, with a hitch: when it becomes available on RoadRunner, it will only be accessible by TWC subscribers who also get the TV-version of ESPN. Apparently this qualification was added to combat cord-cutting.

Earlier on AOA: Ahh! They took Anthony Bourdain from us!

photo: Flickr user schmilblick


no Donna. you aren't the only one. More than once hub or I have uttered "I hate digital tv" and just want to throw the stupid thing out the window. Because we've found having the antennae *near* the window is the only way to get reception. And if you lose the signal and try to adjust the antennae, you get excellent reception momentarily because your BODY acts as an antennae, until you step away from the damn thing, then you lose picture repeat ad nauseum.

we do get more programming than we did with just analog, but it's along the ilk of old Knight Rider episodes, some horrible outdoor/hunting channel and the random curling game.

It hasn't driven us to cable because really, what's the point? anything we like to watch is easily accessible on hulu or comedy So nyah nyah to Time Warner...

apparently you like tv enough to whine to someone about it. Pony up the $12 bones...

There are resources on the web which point out what direction the transmitters are from your house. Digital TV tends to be all-or-nothing, unlike analog which is shades of grey. So, if you don't get decent reception, you have the visibility problems you have.

I used to live near the firehouse at Washington and Western (facing Central) and we got essentially zero reception. That is because we were on the ground floor (already bad for reception) and not facing the transmitters (due south of Albany). If you can place your antenna as high as possible, facing the transmitters, you should have better luck.

It is a bit more frustrating than the old way, but if you can get it to work for you it's brilliant. I'll never go to a sports bar again.

(PS. Now living in Colonie, 5th floor, antenna facing SW and signal is clear as a bell 95%+ percent of the time.)

I live in East Greenbush and bought this antenna for $75

It's made to go on a roof, but I just mounted it on a wall next to my TV and pointed it at the broadcast towers. It works great.

You'll most-likely need a bigger antenna. I also saw a difference after the switch, especially with CBS 6, which by their own admission did not have a strong signal. Oddly enough though, my crappy bunny ears seem to get CBS6 better than my $50.00 Terk HDTV antenna. I've pretty much realized that I'm going to have to put a larger antenna in my attic to really get all of the channels I want.

Most of the signals are sent from the Heldebergs, so make sure to point your antenna towards the Thatcher park area.

Also, check reviews on your digital converter box, because some have better reception than others.

Make sure to go to the following site and enter your zip code. The site will tell you the best type of antenna to get.

If you have DSL or road runner, you may also want to look into media streaming. You can buy a roku media box for $60 to $100. Add a $8.99 netflix subscription and $10 hulu+ subscription and you'll have access to much more content than you would get with the antenna for $29.00 a month.

I recommend rabbit ears. Real rabbit ears. Yes, we're talking animal sacrifice. There's a reason you never hear pagans complaining about their digital TV reception.

If you usage is infrequent, I would go for an Internet solution indeed say Netflix/Hulu/iTunes through a Roku, XBox, or Apple TV hardware. I did some quick math in the "Ahh! They took Anthony Bourdain from us!" thread. I don't believe in the existence of a $12 TWC package (though I want to); as Scott would say: If Time Warner Cable had a life, I would punch it in the face.

Google TV is around the corner:
Google TV may finally get TV right in the online video age

and the new Apple TV doesn't look so bad
Ars reviews the Apple TV 2.0: little, black, different

Drop the cash on a nice new antenna. Compared to Cable, it'll pay itself off in a month or two.

We had the same problem with the switch. Although our number of channels nearly doubled - the reception was unpredictable and ever-changing. I agree with Rebecca about your body acting an an antenna - it was impossible to tune in all the stations.

We ponied up for satellite. Now I have 120 stations with nothing on.

S - "I don't believe in the existence of a $12 TWC package (though I want to)"
No, really, it DOES exist!! I had it for years. You get about 20 channels and there is no fancy remote or box. It sounds like the best option for someone not able to get reception using the converter box. But, here's the thing that confuses me... weren't all those ads we suffered through last year about the digital tv switchover tauting the fact that you will no longer need antenae or 'rabbit ears' to access programing? Now it seems you need $75 antenae instead... infuriating for sure.

kriskaten - to add to that, the $12 subscription, also includes the HD channels for Fox, CBS, ABC, NBC and PBS. They'll show up as ## - #. Any HDTV bought within the past two years will find the channels when you scan.

I downgraded to the $12 basic broadcast package last week and haven't looked back. I don't watch enough TV to justify $70+ a month for digital cable, and their "standard" package, i.e. everything you can get without a converter, is almost as expensive as digital cable ($60ish). I'd love for someone from TWC to explain THAT one...

Is there any way to get the $12 basic package, plus showtime and HBO, with DVR (I understand it will no longer be $12 at this point)? On Sunday there are three things on at the same time that we watch (but one is repeated at 11), so I need to watch one and record one. I suppose I could wait 24 hours for them to appear on Demand, but...waiting is hard.

Summer, I'll put it to you this way: I'd be very surprised if they did. More than likely they'll require you to get digital cable first.

I didn't have cable before the switch - and was fortunate to get the three major networks and fox and pbs to my VERY LITTLE WATCHING needs.

When the world went digital - I bought the converter and new "rabbit ears" but lost channel 6 (sadly on the radio too which was my drive to/drive home station!)

have tried moving the antenna all over the room and still no ch 6

I am not interested in watching "tv" on my small computer screen - nor am I interested in investing in a larger computer screen !

and my tv (hit by lightning twice and repaired each time) is vintage 1986!

Dang it to HBO and Showtime for having such addictive original programming. :/

We got a nice, new antenna, and it didn't do a lick of good. We can only get either 6 or 13, but not both, and either one is likely to randomly stutter on us. We used to get 6, 10 and 13 all just fine. It blows. (And we're in an apartment, so we can't just put it somewhere else or on the roof.)

Donna - I am totally with you. I hate the damn digital switch. It sucks rotten eggs. And why should one pay $12/month for something one rarely needs and is already in the public commons? Especially when the public could enjoy it freely prior to the 'upgrade'. Digital is useless and exceedingly aggravating.

@Katherine - you bring up an important point - broadcast tv is "free" over the air because there are commercials, right? We pay extra for HBO and Showtime because there is no commercial support, right? Then why the F*** do we pay out the nose for satellite and cable stations that are SATURATED with commercials?

All of the big network broadcasters are on a single shared broadcast tower. So it should be easier to get set up, once it is working you should be golden. Also, contrary to what it was like before most of the stations are broadcasting on UHF not VHF, but there are stations on each so you need an antenna that will get both. Finally, your antenna should go outside the house (or at least in the attic). Remember the good old days when there would be these big metal things on top of people roofs to get TV? Well, that is because higher up and away from wireless stuff that could interfere is best.

On a note away from broadcast. The $12 TWC package exists, and has to by law. They are required to offer you alll your local broadcasters that they carry as well as any other public access or government required channels. You will not get a whole lot, but you will get a little more than with just an antenna. The $12 is decided by your local government not by TWC.

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