It's no wonder that many Americans are still confused about the conversion from analog to digital TV service, which began yesterday and is due to wrap up on June 12. Even the news media is confused. For example, an AP article on the transition included the following bit of misinformation:
This makes a blank screen appear to be the antenna's fault. Not so. And it could scare some people into wasting money on new "digital" antennas. A radio wave is a radio wave -- whether it carries an analog or digital TV signal. So the old antenna picks up the new signal just as well -- in fact identically -- as it picks up the new signal.
The problem is in the signal and the receiver. Analog receivers are more tolerant of weak, distorted signals. After all, it's analog's nature to degrade, which is why almost no one gets a pristine analog TV signal (unless they live right next to a tower). Digital doesn't tolerate ambiguity. The receiver is looking for either a 1 or a 0. It won't tolerate 0.5, for example. So if a digital signal deteriorates too badly, the receiver just throws its hands up in disgust, which we see as a blank screen.
In that case, you might need a new antenna -- specifically a bigger one or one that is mounted on the roof instead of on top of your TV -- so you can pick up a stronger signal. But it has more to do with the how far you are from the transmitter than with the quality of your antenna. If you live close enough, and got a crisp analog signal with a 30-year-old set of bent rabbit ears, you should fare just as well with digital signals.
Beware of ads and salespeople pushing new "digital" antennas.
While you are no doubt technically correct, this is a distiction without a difference from an end-user standpoint.
I much preferred the analog signal because then at least I could see something and the sound wouldn't cut in and out. I don't receive any of the major networks and am going to be forced to learn spanish because that is all I am able to pick up. I smell a conspiracy theory brewing.
The original article is correct, Mr. Captain is wrong.
Digital signals are transmitted at higher frequencies than the older analog signals. The older, lower frequencies will be used for other services.
A well designed antenna is "tuned" to the frequency it is designed to receive. It is not just a random length of conductor. "Tuning" an antenna allows it to receive the desired signal very well while rejecting all of the rest of the signals that are in the atmosphere.
If you look at a Ham Radio antenna (which is tuned to much lower frequencies) you will see an antenna that is a number of feet long. Older analog tv antenna have elements that are a couple of feet long at the back end for the lower frequencies (VHF channels 2-13) and less than a foot long at the front for the higher frequencies (UHF Channels 14 and above)
The new digital frequencies run up to 900 MHZ and require an antenna with much shorter elements if it is to receive the signal in an optimal manner.
If you have an older over the air antenna, purchasing a new one designed for the new higher frequency digital channels will result in being able to receive an much weaker signal successfully
the information above is fairly accurate, IF we were talking about transmitting. An antenna is going to receive a signal no matter what. The information about the antennas being cut to length and so forth only applies when talking about transmissions. If you transmit on an antenna that is not the right length than you will have problems with reflected power and could possibly burn out your transmitter or transceiver. Like the article said. If you received analog signals with the rabbit ears you have now than you are going to receive the digital signals with the same rabbit ears. The only thing that matters is the reciever/TV. Your TV needs to be able to support digital signals(digital tuner). If not you can buy a converter box or switch to cable, satellite. Or, Buy a new TV.
You are so right; there is really no need to buy the new "digital" antennas in order to get the new signal; I even made my own antenna by using a 2x4 and wires. To my surprise, i got perfect HD channels! If anyone is interested, with this bad economy, there is a video on metacafe that shows you how to make the antenna. And no i did not design this antenna so im not trying to get credit for it; although it is not that great looking; but hey, i watch the office in HD!
"So the old antenna picks up the new signal just as well -- in fact identically -- as it picks up the new signal."
I don't like the fact that all the TVs you see nowadays are flat screen HD. There are people that can't afford it like me, and I think that they should keep the original TVs. Just as long as you have satellite or cable you should be fine. I hope that someday they'll lower the price in the future to where it's affordable that more people can buy it.