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Please check out my other blogs
Pick of the Literate 
or Azure Dwarf’s Horde
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Digital TV Dilemma

The change over to digital broadcasting has been written to death. It is coming, congress has just voted not to delay it so it will happen on schedule. The myth that cable and satellite are not affected is just that, a myth. Comcast has already shifted some very important channels to all digital. (Cartoon network being a grandchild important channel) Comcast states they will be gradually changing all of their analog output to digital. What does that specifically mean to all of us cable users. It means you must have a digital tuner to get those channels that are currently digital and those they will be changing. So like all of the “over the air” folks, you will need a converter box so it is just plain old crap that if you have cable you won’t be affected by the change to digital.

Comcast offers two free digital adapters to those who currently have a digital converter box. Caution, the digital adapter is not the same as the digital converter box, it is a stupid cousin. The digital adapter allows you to see the broadcasts that Comcast has converted to digital. It does not allow you access to on demand or other features that you get with your digital converter. If you want extra digital adapters, beyond the two “free” ones, they cost $1.99 per month. If you want a digital converter beyond your one “free” one, it costs $4.99 per month. Why do you need these? Because Comcast is moving to digital just like the on air broadcasts are moving to digital.

Digital does give a better picture but so far this has been the proverbial pain in the tush. Unless I am willing to replace all my analog, tube TVs, I now need a digital adapter for each and every one, including VCR, TIVO and DVR. If you want to continue using your TIVO or VCR to record something else while you are viewing a different channel, you must have a digital adapter for it as well. Suddenly the $1.99 per adapter is adding up. Millions of customers at $1.99 per adapter is truly serious money.

The alternative is to go out and buy all digital TVs and replace all the analog tubes. That is more painful than $1.99 per month. Of course you would still need to upgrade to the digital converter to get On Demand or other nifty features. Once again, the consumer is hosed, the corporate giant wins and our elected “representatives” pander to the lobbyists.

Perhaps the best alternative is to just stopping watching TV. If you decide to do that go to my book blog Pick of the Literate for reading suggestions.

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