Broadcast TV reception, not so good

posted by Jeff | Thursday, November 26, 2009, 1:56 AM | comments: 1

I finally busted out the DVR today, and the news about broadcast signals was not good. They're there, but they're all pretty week using the little antennae I have indoors. The neighboring building also blocks the line of sight to the transmitters downtown. If that building wasn't there, I suspect I'd get great reception, because we're on higher ground and (according to the FCC coverage maps) well within range.

But the news isn't entirely bad. The local cable company does have those channels in HD by way of Clear QAM on the wire, so I can get all of them. The problem is that I only have the one tuner that can do it, so if more than one thing is on, I lose one thing or the other.

So the plan I think is to get another Clear QAM tuner. With two, I feel like we'll be pretty well covered. The third USB tuner I have receives analog cable, so that can cover anything I can't get digitally. Eventually, I'd like to find a small and quiet PC or a Mac Mini to replace the DVR. Since tuners are all USB now, and video hardware is generally powerful enough without giant video cars, there's no need for the big loud thing with all of the fans.


Dave Althoff

November 29, 2009, 11:58 PM #

Something else you might want to consider, depending on how you prefer to handle your TV stuff...

There's a product out there from SiliconDust called the "HD Homerun". It contains two ATSC/ClearQAM tuners and connects directly to your network. Compatible with several popular HTPC DVR packages (EyeTV, MythTV, etc) it just tunes in any ATSC or ClearQAM channel and streams it on the network. It was the ONLY generic tuner I found that would actually work with my ancient Macs (since it is a network device and doesn't care what becomes of the stream).

It's a neat box; it's just a shame that the CATV carrier won't take all those other channels that they claim I am supposed to get as digital channels and hand them over as ClearQAM instead of assuming that I want their @!#$ box... (I have both the HD Homerunner and a Philips standalone DVD recorder/DVR with an ATSC/Clear QAM tuner)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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