[FoRK] how to do no-sub tv?

Brian Atkins < brian at posthuman.com > on > Thu Apr 27 09:10:09 PDT 2006

Lucas Gonze wrote:
> Brian Atkins wrote:
>> Straight Over-The-Air HDTV is the best quality going nowadays. Sat 
>> companies actually downrez it down to 1280x1024 and lower bitrates, so 
>> avoid them.
> Wow!  I would never have guessed that this was a plausible technology -- 
> I was assuming that I'd need some kind of satellite hookup.

Yes, actually all analog broadcasts in the US are required to switchover to 
digital (note: digital doesn't necessarily mean you'll be seeing the full glory 
of HDTV (1920x1080i or 1280x720p), if the station has no HD content or feeds 
then you'll just be seeing Standard Def content upconverted to HD) by I think 
2009, at which point the analog transmissions are supposed to go away and be 
re-auctioned off for telecom purposes.

Sat companies suck because they have both made the decision that sending a full 
HD feed would use to much precious bandwidth. So from them at best you'll get 
1280x1024i (technically not even one of the standard HD specs, I do expect them 
to get sued eventually because of this), re-encoded to MPEG4 to save bits. This 
is called "HD lite".

>> Just hook up an antenna, size and quality depending on your location:
>> http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/welcome.aspx
> Ok, so, the next question is what that "antenna" business means. 
> Checking out the UHF antennnae at 
> http://www.hometech.com/video/antennas.html, I wonder if I can get away 
> with one of the smaller things there, since I don't have roof access for 
> installing a bigger one.

It depends both on close you are to the broadcasting towers, what kinds of 
interference there is between you and their general direction, and also whether 
or not you want to be able to receive every last station, or only care about 
certain ones.

The best thing would be to start with a cheap indoor set-top antenna, like the 
Zenith one Joe suggested.

Then if that won't work, return it or resell it, and get something bigger. If 
you get to the point of trying to use a full blown outdoor antenna indoors, 
check on antennaweb to make sure it covers the kind of signals your stations are 
sending. Many HD stations are broadcasting in the UHF range, but some are VHF. 
If you need to receive a mix, pick an antenna that is optimized for both kinds.

>> If you want a DVR, there are various options from building your own PC 
>> based DVR, or waiting for the series 3 Tivo coming out this year which 
>> will have two OTA tuners.
> Hm.  Maybe I can retrofit my series 1 Tivo.  The only change is a bigger 
> hard drive to accomodate larger files, I think.

Nope, it has no ATSC digital OTA tuner. You need something with that; a regular 
ole analog tuner like in an old VCR or old TV won't work.

The cheapest options are buying an old external tuner box on ebay, or buy a 
tuner card for a PC. The problem with the PC solution is if you want to watch 
the recordings you make on a HDTV. Many PCs/cards only have something like 
S-video outputs which are not HD. You'll need either component, HDMI, or 
firewire depending on what your HDTV can handle.
Brian Atkins
Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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