Friday, October 15, 2010


A few days ago one of my Facebook friends said she needed help picking out a new television. At the time I didn’t provide any advice but then I remembered that I had written a blog about buying a new high definition TV back a few years ago. So I went back through my blogs and came up with this re-post. I have revised it a bit and also want to dispel in this revised edition an untruth that is broadcast on TV regularly by the Dish Network. They have a couple of advertisements that give the impression that you must have a cable or satellite TV connection, and preferable the Dish Network, in order to receive high definition TV reception. That is absolutely false.

First, if you have an older analogue TV that you are viewing right now via a cable or satellite connection, you can still use that TV without a cable or satellite connection by instead connecting it to a digital receiver and an inside or outside TV antenna. A digital receiver will cost you between $40 and $70. The one that I purchased, and is very highly rated, is a Zenith Model DDT901. You can order one from internet sites; that’s what I did. With the digital receiver and antenna your old analogue TV will pick up the free digital TV stations. In most locations these will be the network stations, ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX, plus local Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS).

Second, if you have a high definition TV that is connected to cable or satellite you can also get free high definition reception by simply connecting the HDTV to an inside or outside antenna. With both the digital receiver box and the HDTV it will be necessary for you to run a setup, i.e., let the digital box or HDTV re-scan to locate the free over the air channels.

In addition to the network stations many of you will be able to receive also additional free HD and digital stations now being broadcast. In my area we receive a second CBS network station called THIS which runs movies all day and evening. It even has a web link to give you the program schedule (movies): . The ABC network has 2 additional stations. One is called the Live Well (LW) station and it also has a web link: It has programs like travel, cooking and money management programs. It may not be available in every area of the country but its locations are listed. Then the ABC network also has a news and weather station that it broadcasts. The NBC network also has 2 additional stations. The second station broadcasts past sporting events all of the time but not mainline stuff like football and basketball. The third NBC network broadcast station is a news and weather station. In addition to FOX network broadcasts there is another station called RETRO TV which is very much like the TV Land station on cable and satellite connections. It runs old programming like Marcus Welby MD, Magnum P.I., The “A” Team, Knight Rider, I Spy, and other such. It has a web link also and its available almost all over the country. and: .
I also get over the air broadcasts of UPN TV shows: and the CW Television Network: . These stations have shows like Smallville, Supernatural, and the Vampire Diaries. I also get 3 Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS) and some Hispanic language stations too.

So unless you want or need to have cable/satellite stations like CNN, ESPN, and/or C-SPAN there are plenty of free over-the-air stations and you can receive them in high definition on your HDTV.

There is some mis-information about the community/neighborhood associations covenants and restrictions as far as TV reception is concerned. The gist of the mis-information is that you must hide your antenna or dish behind the house or behind bushes and trees in order to comply with the community/homeowner association rules. Those requirements have no legally enforceable validity because there are Federal Government regulations that prohibit state, county and local governments, AND, specifically homeowner/community associations from interfering with any property owners access to free over the air TV reception.

The following is an excerpt from the regulations:

“As directed by Congress in Section 207 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Federal Communications Commission adopted the Over-the-Air Reception Devices (“OTARD”) rule concerning governmental and nongovernmental restrictions on viewers' ability to receive video programming signals from direct broadcast satellites ("DBS"), broadband radio service providers (formerly multichannel multipoint distribution service or MMDS), and television broadcast stations ("TVBS").

The rule (47 C.F.R. Section 1.4000) has been in effect since October 1996, and it prohibits restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance or use of antennas used to receive video programming. The rule applies to video antennas including direct-to-home satellite dishes that are less than one meter (39.37") in diameter (or of any size in Alaska), TV antennas, and wireless cable antennas. The rule prohibits most restrictions that: (1) unreasonably delay or prevent installation, maintenance or use; (2) unreasonably increase the cost of installation, maintenance or use; or (3) preclude reception of an acceptable quality signal.

Effective January 22, 1999, the Commission amended the rule so that it also applies to rental property where the renter has an exclusive use area, such as a balcony or patio.

On October 25, 2000, the Commission further amended the rule so that it applies to customer-end antennas that receive and transmit fixed wireless signals. This amendment became effective on May 25, 2001.

The rule applies to individuals who place antennas that meet size limitations on property that they own or rent and that is within their exclusive use or control, including condominium owners and cooperative owners, and tenants who have an area where they have exclusive use, such as a balcony or patio, in which to install the antenna. The rule applies to townhomes and manufactured homes, as well as to single family homes.

The rule allows local governments, community associations and landlords to enforce restrictions that do not impair the installation, maintenance or use of the types of antennas described above, as well as restrictions needed for safety or historic preservation. Under some circumstances where a central or common antenna is available, a community association or landlord may restrict the installation of individual antennas. The rule does not apply to common areas that are owned by a landlord, a community association, or jointly by condominium or cooperative owners where the antenna user does not have an exclusive use area. Such common areas may include the roof or exterior wall of a multiple dwelling unit. Therefore, restrictions on antennas installed in or on such common areas are enforceable.

This Information Sheet provides general answers to questions concerning implementation of the rule, but is not a substitute for the actual rule. For further information or a copy of the rule, contact the Federal Communications Commission at 888-CALLFCC (toll free) or (202) 418-7096. The rule is also available via the Internet by going to links to relevant Orders and the rule.

Q: What types of antennas are covered by the rule?

A: The rule applies to the following types of antennas:

(1) A "dish" antenna that is one meter (39.37") or less in diameter (or any size dish if located in Alaska) and is designed to receive direct broadcast satellite service, including direct-to-home satellite service, or to receive or transmit fixed wireless signals via satellite.

(2) An antenna that is one meter or less in diameter or diagonal measurement and is designed to receive video programming services via broadband radio service (wireless cable) or to receive or transmit fixed wireless signals other than via satellite.

(3) An antenna that is designed to receive local television broadcast signals. Masts higher than 12 feet above the roofline may be subject to local permitting requirements.

In addition, antennas covered by the rule may be mounted on "masts" to reach the height needed to receive or transmit an acceptable quality signal (e.g. maintain line-of-sight contact with the transmitter or view the satellite). Masts higher than 12 feet above the roofline may be subject to local permitting requirements for safety purposes. Further, masts that extend beyond an exclusive use area may not be covered by this rule.”

You can read the entire rule and fact sheet with questions and answers at this web link:

And for your information, here a


This is the antenna that I bought:


A few years ago I posted this blog about buying a new HDTV. I am re-posting it here with a few revisions. Replacing a big screen TV may sound like an easy job, but its not. You probably say all you need to decide is what size TV you want and what manufacturer do you prefer, Sony, Samsung, RCA, or the Sears or Wal Mart brand.

Well now days it’s just not that simple. The first thing is I discovered that there are a lot of acronyms that you have to learn and understand before you can even think about choosing a size, make or model. DTV, HDTV, 720p, 1080p/1080i, ATSC, EDTV, Plasma TV, DLP, LCD, Aspect Ratio, CRT, Front Projection, Rear Projection, D-ILA, LCoS, Comb Filter, Interlaced, Progressive Scan, and Flat Panel are the terms that I have run into. Then you also need to be concerned about what you plan to hook up to the TV, like a DVD player, or cable. Then you need to know about A/V connections, S-Video jacks, HDMI, CableCard Slots, and Video Card Slots.

All of this is driven by a Congressionally mandated change in the broadcasting standards. Then on top of that there is a lot of mis-information floating around about what is mandated and when and for whom. Researching to buy a new TV has been an eye opening experience.

I know that some of you are familiar with the web site where you can get answers on how any and everything works, called HOWSTUFF WORKS.COM . Then there is another site that is useful for good accurate technical answers, CNET.COM . So I went to these sites searching for information on High Definition TV’s (HDTV) and I also visited a couple other places that my Google search turned up and I ended up printing more than 70 pages to read over. I printed it so that I could highlight stuff while I read. That’s where I got the headache. And I am gonna try my best to make this blog less than 70 pages.

Ok, the first thing is the Congress did not mandate that everybody convert to HDTV by 1996 as we have been led to believe. What the Congress said was BROADCAST STATIONS, i.e., NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, and other independents BROADCAST STATIONS must convert to a DIGITAL TV (DTV) broadcast format by May, 1996. Congress did NOT mandate High Definition TV (HDTV) in 1996 or any year. What they mandated was like saying you gotta move up from the Chevy Nova to a Cadillac Escalade, but you don’t have to buy a Maserati. In addition, the new standard does not apply to Cable and Satellite transmissions, since they are not broadcast. What has further confused things is some stations, like FOX and ESPN have already gone past the minimum standard, digital, and starting showing what they call HDTV programs. However Fox’s broadcasts in many areas of the country are at 480p and while this meets the Federal Communications Commission’s regulation it is the minimum standard and is not HDTV.

Here are some other significant dates:

* July 1, 2006: All new 25" or larger sets must have DTV tuners or be DTV-ready
* March 1, 2007: All new 13" or larger sets must have DTV tuners or be DTV-ready
* February 17, 2009: Proposed shutoff date for over-the-air analog broadcasts (in other words your old TV will not be any good without a converter box)

OK, lets make it even more complicated. The Advanced Television Standards Committee (ATSC) has set voluntary standards for digital television. These standards include how sound and video are encoded and transmitted. They also provide guidelines for different levels of quality. All of the digital standards are better in quality than the old analog signals. HDTV standards are the top tier of all the digital signals.

The ATSC has created 18 commonly used digital broadcast formats for video. The lowest quality digital format is about the same as the highest quality an analog TV can display. The 18 formats cover differences in:

* Aspect ratio - Standard television has a 4:3 aspect ratio - it is four units wide by three units high. HDTV has a 16:9 aspect ratio, more like a movie screen.

* Resolution - The lowest standard resolution (SDTV) will be about the same as analog TV and will go up to 704 x 480 pixels. The highest HDTV resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels. HDTV can display about ten times as many pixels as an analog TV set.

* Frame rate - A set's frame rate describes how many times it creates a complete picture on the screen every second. DTV frame rates usually end in "I" or "p" to denote whether they are interlaced or progressive. DTV frame rates range from 24p (24 frames per second, progressive) to 60p (60 frames per second, progressive).

Many of these standards have exactly the same aspect ratio and resolution - their frame rates differentiate them from one another. When you hear someone mention a "1080i" HDTV set, they're talking about one that has a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and can display 60 frames per second, interlaced.

Now I could go on and on and define or try to explain all of the acronyms above but I will let you (if you are interested enough) go to the web sites I gave you above and get your own headache. Besides I know you don’t want to read five pages, let alone seventy.

So why do I need to know all of this about TV’s? Well first of all I don’t want to buy somebody’s TV that’s on sale for a great price and then find out that it’s a great price because its no good after February 2009 because it does not have a digital tuner. Then I have to decide whether I want to spend the extra money to get a HDTV, vs a DTV, when there are not enough broadcast or cable programs on right now. (That has now changed over the past couple years and there are now lots of high definition shows.) I am already pissed that I can barely find anything on TV to watch. And finally I need to decide whether to get a TV that has a 4 to 3 Aspect Ratio or one with a 16 to 1 (wide screen) Aspect Ratio. DECISIONS, DECISIONS, DECISIONS !!!

The information that I read over included some technical reviews by experts. Not just folks like me and you expressing our opinion. Based on my research and their reviews I have decided on the brand I want, Mitsubishi, and the technology I want, DLP Rear Projection with a 4 to 3 Aspect Ratio. Man that was hard. Now I have to find the TV in the screen size I want and hope I can catch a good sale price or special.

So did I give you a headache with all of this good information?????

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