Four ways to watch TV

At our house, we have recently experienced two new ways to watch TV shows on a TV set in the living room. Here’s the list, starting with the oldest way:

(1) Standard Definition broadcast. This is the way people have been watching TV for 50+ years. Nothing much has changed since the advent of color broadcasting in 1954. We live in the suburban Los Angeles areas, so we get a lot of channels, but NBC looks like this:

TV Old Broadcast

Other channels come in better. In the USA, this type of broadcast is going away February 17, 2009, at midnight.

(2) Watching TV shows on DVD. We’ve done this for a couple years. It’s usually too expensive to buy the DVD’s, but my housemates and other friends have bought TV shows on DVD – especially for favorites like “24″, “Lost”, “Arrested Development”, and “The Office”. But more recently, we have been watching more through Netflix (see the envelopes on top of the TV), like “Project Greenlight”, “Freeks and Geeks”, and some PBS documentaries.

Within the past month or so, we have been experiencing TV in two new ways:

(3) Digital Broadcast. All TV stations have begun broadcasting a digital signal – or in most cases, several signals. I went to www.dtv2009.gov and signed up for the $40 coupon, and with an additional $24, we came home from Best Buy with a digital converter box. As a comparison to the picture above, here is the same channel, with the antenna in the same exact position:

New DTV signal

It’s 100% clear. And not only that, (and this was a complete surprise to us) there are usually several different sub-channels. Instead of just channel 4, we now get channel 4.1 (a digital version of what was on the standard broadcast), channel 4.2 (and all-weather channel), and channel 4.4 (usually showing more news). The PBS channels are especially likely to have several different broadcasts. One of our new favorites is KDOC 58.3, Bohemian Visual Music, which plays all music videos (and a few commercials).

Shortly after we hooked up this new converter box, Joel got married (see previous post), moved out, and Trent moved in. He brought along a TV that has the best of both worlds – it can receive standard and digital broadcast. Although we were initially enamored with the clarity of DTV (digital TV), we soon discovered that when the signal is weak, the sound cuts off, and the picture pixelates. And in some cases, a slightly snowy picture is better than a bad digital signal. So sometimes we watch the standard broadcast instead.

(4) Watching shows online. Most big networks now make some of their TV shows available online. Trent’s TV has an RGB-in and an S-Video in, so he can hook up his laptop (the three of ours don’t work):

Trent at computer with TV

Although we have been watching shows on computers for a long time, this is the first time we’ve been able to see them on the TV in the living room. Finally, here is a snapshot of a momentous occasion:

First ad from computer

This is the first time an advertisement has made it from the internet, through a computer, onto our TV in the living room. Many network executives have worried about just this kind of thing: how can they get revenue-generating ads in front of people like us (we’re four single guys, exactly in their target market age range). Actually, I don’t mind watching a couple ads, if it means we can watch “Battlestar Galactica” for free. Usually ads that come in online broadcasts only last 30 seconds, and there’s only one, instead of 2 or 3 minutes. Better yet: Netflix “Watch it Now” offers lots of shows and movies commercial-free.

One last note: all this talk of watching TV – but we don’t actually watch that much. See the stack next to the TV above? We like playing board games a lot – safely beyond the reach of the empire of commercialism and ads aimed at making us feel perpetually inadequate because we don’t have the right car or shampoo.

2 Responses to “Four ways to watch TV”

  1. Proollililk Says:

    I http://watchtvonline1.com – watch tv onlinealot, lol some of my favorites are youtube. What are places
    can I watch tv online.

    Is it legal for me to have explained here?, and bank accounts? How to start? Can I move my existing business offshore

    Thanks

  2. documentaries Says:

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