A wish list. Function & features we need on DTV tuners - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 42 Old 12-10-2011, 10:38 PM - Thread Starter
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It sure would be nice for us OTA enthusiasts to see the following:

1 Signal Strength Meter. If the set has an ATSC tuner, then a meter to see the strength of signal should be mandatory. I have never seen a cellphone without one so who is the dumb person responsible for this obvious fatal error? And the darn thing shouldn't be buried under multiple keystrokes like most are.

2 Favorite channel memory. Again, ATSC can be quite cumbersome to navigate with, and we need all the tools we can get. This particular "feature" has been around for a long time, so why would a set not have it?

3 EPG, Electronic program guides are very useful and to not take advantage of what is free runs contrary to my philosophy of what OTA is all about.

4 Tuner sensitivity, in microvolts, just like the good old days.

5 A smartly laid out remote is important and "quick scan" feature would really seperate the wheat from the chaff..


All the other specs are secondary in nature. You will be told whether it is 720p or 1080p. The contrast ratio, audio wattage, weight, and dimensions are helpful but we really should demand the first 3 items on this list as a bare minimum. What did I miss?
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post #2 of 42 Old 12-11-2011, 01:31 AM
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My Samsung dtb-h260f set top box has the first 3 items on your list. I use my signal strength indicator to place my antenna inthe best spot. I have my favorite channels in the favorites and the guide lists what is on and has descriptions of some programs. But the Samsung dtb-h260f has been discontinued.

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post #3 of 42 Old 12-11-2011, 04:57 AM
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Add to the list:

Flexibility to add individual channels during a scan or to permit the "Additional channel scan"

Dual tuners with separate inputs would be a big advantage for customers in between markets.
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post #4 of 42 Old 12-11-2011, 10:54 AM
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Most DTV receivers have only a "Signal Quality" meter...it would be nice to have a companion (on the same screen) "Signal Strength" meter available, even if it is only brought up through the setup menu. There are times you need to see both, simultaneously.

I love the idea of two, or even three RF inputs, each available to assign to an individual station.

The ability to "add" channels, without erasing the ones already there, SHOULD have been a requirement under ATSC specs....but, it was not. That makes it hard to add channels from a new antenna bearing.

It would also be nice to be able to specify which station will set your clock, or be able to restrict certain ones (the ones who can't ever get it right) from doing so. I hate to get stuck, when I check EPG after tuning to a bad channel, and having the box or set think "it's next Tuesday"...giving me a blank EPG.

What ever happened to the SmartAntenna? That was pretty slick, especially if you just have a single TV, like in an apartment. They could have also built them with multiple outputs, so they could feed multiple sets. Eventually, even HD Radio FM tuners could have used that, running off the error-correction circuits for the digital.

Any more suggestions?

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post #5 of 42 Old 12-11-2011, 02:24 PM
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Topic title edited.

'Better Living Through Modern, Expensive, Electronic Devices'

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post #6 of 42 Old 12-11-2011, 02:25 PM
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To answer 1-5
Back in the good old days... there was nothing even close.
Most people subscribe to cable, satellite or FiOS. The TV manufacturers know that.

Don't expect anything to change for OTA and/or TV features.
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post #7 of 42 Old 12-11-2011, 05:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenglish View Post

The ability to "add" channels, without erasing the ones already there, SHOULD have been a requirement under ATSC specs....but, it was not. That makes it hard to add channels from a new antenna bearing.

Any chance TV manufacturers would add this functionality?

Everyone I know that has cable grumbles about the high cost, for example Camcost charges around $70 a month for BASIC cable, and this is not even high definition.

There is genuine need for a DTV that addresses these concerns. Many people would cut the cable if there was a DTV that had most of these features.

Perhaps some marketing "genius" will come up with an "OTA friendly" DTV that has most of these suggestions and we can watch Ratman eat some crow.
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post #8 of 42 Old 12-11-2011, 05:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenglish View Post

The ability to "add" channels, without erasing the ones already there, SHOULD have been a requirement under ATSC specs....but, it was not. That makes it hard to add channels from a new antenna bearing.

Both our HDTVs have this function and my analog to digital converter box has this.
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post #9 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 06:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VendorBS View Post



Everyone I know that has cable grumbles about the high cost, for example Camcost charges around $70 a month for BASIC cable, and this is not even high definition.

I realize this is off topic, but where did you get this info $70/mo? You must be referring to a combo package that includes voice & HSI.

No HD? I think all or nearly all markets have HD.
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post #10 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 06:48 AM
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Well, I've been using an OTA/ATSC tuner since 2002. My experiences has shown:
1) All three have/had "signal meters". Once the antenna was aligned properly, there was rarely a need to revisit. As the inconveince of being buried under multiple keystrokes... most every adjustment/setting requires multiple keystrokes/menus (aside from channel, volume or input).

2) Many sets have a favorite channel feature, some may not. Just purchase a set that has that feature if it's important.

3) All three of my sets have/had the EPG that contains the info as provided in the PSIP data. Some stations comply... some don't. That's a problem with the station, not the ATSC tuner. Also... there may be sets that include TVGoS which is more "sophisticated". Again, look for a set that provides that feature if that's important to you.

4) You got me on that one. I don't recall ever seeing a set with this function/feature. Even in the good 'ole days.

5) Smartly laid out remotes are hit or miss. One could buy a set based solely on the remote or there are very nice smart remotes that can be purchased separately.

As for scanning, not much of an issue IMO. Some do take a few minutes, but with OTA, how many times (days, weeks, months) does one need to scan?

With adding channels, I've found that if you manually select the "real" channel, it will detect the channel, remap to the "virtual" channel and it is saved in memory. YMMV with your particular set(s).
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post #11 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 07:11 AM
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Sadly, you can rarely find a retailer that has a digital TV set or box connected to an antenna, so it's pretty hard to "see" any of the features that we are talking about here. Note that I always make a point to tell the sales person that, too .

One point about a real "signal strength" meter...if it was somewhat calibrated (using the word loosely), you could tell if you have sufficient signal to allow some margin ("how many dB before you would lose signal"), and could check to see if a station is running at lower than normal power (due to scheduled maintenance, or transmitter/antenna issues). The usual "signal" meter is more likely to show multi-path issues, than actual (absolute) strength.

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post #12 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

....
4) You got me on that one. I don't recall ever seeing a set with this function/feature. Even in the good 'ole days.

I guess you mean "Tuner sensitivity, in microvolts, just like the good old days."
Yeah, I've never seen that either, but I know that Sony had sets that would read out in "dB Signal-to-Noise". Kent Parsons, the translator guru, bought one of the first ones like that.

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post #13 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 07:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenglish View Post

Sadly, you can rarely find a retailer that has a digital TV set or box connected to an antenna, so it's pretty hard to "see" any of the features that we are talking about here.

Sad but true. But realistically, OTA connections in a store doesn't mean squat for gripes/desires 1-5 for performance/reception in your home. Also, if one decides to purchase a set from a Etailer, it makes that a moot issue. Good research online beforehand is a good option. Forums can help to provide personal experiences with specific TV's and also manuals can be accessed online for features/function.

Quote:


The usual "signal" meter is more likely to show multi-path issues, than actual (absolute) strength.

True that a "signal" meter can indicate multipath issues (fluctuation of meter from 0 to whatever number). It's probably safer to say that most meters indicate S/N ratio as opposed to actual strength.

Best thing to keep in mind is that all tuners (and meters) are not created equally. Some may be better or more sensitive than others. Best bet is to understand that the antenna (type, mounting, aiming, etc.) is more important than the meter. The meter is merely a helpful tool to assist with antenna installation/aiming.
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post #14 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 08:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

Well, I've been using an OTA/ATSC tuner since 2002. My experiences has shown:
1) All three have/had "signal meters". Once the antenna was aligned properly, there was rarely a need to revisit. As the inconveince of being buried under multiple keystrokes... most every adjustment/setting requires multiple keystrokes/menus (aside from channel, volume or input).

2) Many sets have a favorite channel feature, some may not. Just purchase a set that has that feature if it's important.

3) All three of my sets have/had the EPG that contains the info as provided in the PSIP data. Some stations comply... some don't. That's a problem with the station, not the ATSC tuner. Also... there may be sets that include TVGoS which is more "sophisticated". Again, look for a set that provides that feature if that's important to you.

4) You got me on that one. I don't recall ever seeing a set with this function/feature. Even in the good 'ole days.

5) Smartly laid out remotes are hit or miss. One could buy a set based solely on the remote or there are very nice smart remotes that can be purchased separately.

As for scanning, not much of an issue IMO. Some do take a few minutes, but with OTA, how many times (days, weeks, months) does one need to scan?

With adding channels, I've found that if you manually select the "real" channel, it will detect the channel, remap to the "virtual" channel and it is saved in memory. YMMV with your particular set(s).

I agree with all that Ratman stated above. My set even has a SNR dB reading next to the Signal Strength (which is given as a percent of 100).
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post #15 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 08:36 AM
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According to the ATSC folks, most all of the built-in "Signal" meters are simply looking at the efforts of the multi-path equalizer circuit, then using that data with a look-up table, to give an "educated guess" of signal-to-noise.
A real S/N measurement would require turning off the transmitter and taking a noise reading, on channel, or taking a noise reading on the closest adjacent channel that is vacant.
I'd love to see something that, maybe, reads the level of the pilot carrier for a "Signal Level", in addition to the other.

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post #16 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 09:22 AM
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My OTA tuner wish list would include the ability to completely distinguish two different stations (in both tuning capability and memory addition) having overlapping real/real channel numbers, virtual/virtual channel numbers and real/virtual channel numbers. Right now, different OTA tuners have all sorts of different ways of handling this, with some (including mine) not being able to receive some of these overlapping stations at all (without erasing all memorized stations) or only able to receive some when entered into memory in a certain order, but not the opposite order.
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post #17 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gcd0865 View Post

My OTA tuner wish list would include the ability to completely distinguish two different stations (in both tuning capability and memory addition) having overlapping real/real channel numbers, virtual/virtual channel numbers and real/virtual channel numbers. Right now, different OTA tuners have all sorts of different ways of handling this, with some (including mine) not being able to receive some of these overlapping stations at all (without erasing all memorized stations) or only able to receive some when entered into memory in a certain order, but not the opposite order.

Can you tell us what markets/DMAs, and what stations are "overlapping"?

From rabbitears.com, we might be able to see if there is something the stations could do....I think that the "invisible" PSIP, like the Program Numbers, might be causing a conflict. The stations could, possibly, coordinate their PSIP numbering in those kinds of situations.

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post #18 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenglish View Post

According to the ATSC folks, most all of the built-in "Signal" meters are simply looking at the efforts of the multi-path equalizer circuit, then using that data with a look-up table, to give an "educated guess" of signal-to-noise.

You may be correct, I'm not an engineer nor do I design ATSC tuners, but as a hypothetical...

In an area and/or a situation with no multipath issues and a properly installed/aimed/perfect antenna, wouldn't that make the meter always show 100% even with a (truely) poor/low signal? In other words, if the meter relies on multipath detection alone, it would be pretty useless in some situations.
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post #19 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

You may be correct, I'm not an engineer nor do I design ATSC tuners, but as a hypothetical...

In an area and/or a situation with no multipath issues and a properly installed/aimed/perfect antenna, wouldn't that make the meter always show 100% even with a (truely) poor/low signal? In other words, if the meter relies on multipath detection alone, it would be pretty useless in some situations.

In a word, "Yes". As long as there is enough signal to give a perfect picture, it would show a 'good" signal quality on the meter. If the signal "quality" (multipath) degrades, then the meter would show it, but it doesn't really show a lot about the strength of the RF signal. That's why I would like to see an overall "strength" indicator, even if it's under a setup menu....you could check that out before deciding there's a problem. And, it would allow you to guess-timate that you have sufficient margin ("overhead", if you will) to maintain a good signal through the normal atmospheric variations, as well as any transmitter maintenance and low power issues.15-16 dB of usable signal, ABOVE the lowest point (dip) of the signal across the channel....the "dips" in the normally flat-topped haystack (as seen on a spectrum analyzer). Multi-path causes peaks and dips in that haystack.

As for the info on how the meters currently work, I got that from correspondence with one of the guys who designed the ATSC system, and who also designed some of the sets. He's currently working with broadcasters and others on upgrades to the ATSC system, and on the "Mobile TV" system.

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post #20 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

You may be correct, I'm not an engineer nor do I design ATSC tuners, but as a hypothetical...

In an area and/or a situation with no multipath issues and a properly installed/aimed/perfect antenna, wouldn't that make the meter always show 100% even with a (truely) poor/low signal? In other words, if the meter relies on multipath detection alone, it would be pretty useless in some situations.

I usually get a "signal strength" across the board at about 85% with SNR never going below 30-31dB from a distance of about 45-50 miles. Reception is never an issue regardless of environmental conditions.
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post #21 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 01:41 PM
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To Ken:
Whatever the case may be as to "how" ATSC tuners measure signal strength (whatever it really means technically), and I'm not saying you are wrong, but again as I suggested previously...

Assuming there are no multipath issues in any way, will an ATSC tuner show 100% even though there is a low/poor signal? I would think there's more to it than measuring multipath alone.

Here's a scenario:
Let's assume one lives in Kansas. Totally flat. No trees or obstuctions. Antenna is roof mounted outdoors properly installed and aimed. What will the meter show with a poor/low signal from a transmitter 40-50 miles away and the TV still can't retain a stable signal? Will it indicate 100% since there is no multipath?
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post #22 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 02:05 PM
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I believe that most would show either a very tiny amount, indicating a lock on the signal's data train, but not enough signal to decode the data...

Or, a fairly high (toward 100%) signal indication, if the signal-to-noise is sufficient (>15 dB or so) to allow the decoder to make the data, and there is minimal multi-path.

That's why I think a real "Signal Intensity" meter would be handy, at least at initial setup...it would show you how close you are to having low signal, and the two together would give you a good clue as to how close you are to the "digital cliff".

Whether the meter will show "100%" is probably going to depend on the design of the software, since it's just a "bar" based on a look-up table. But, probably a pretty high reading, anyway.

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post #23 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 02:51 PM
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We can agree to disagree I guess. The bottom line is that all ATSC tuners differ. All signal meters are good or bad based on design and/or algorithm used. It's just a simple tool to assist with antenna setup... not gospel.
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post #24 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

The bottom line is that all ATSC tuners differ. All signal meters are good or bad based on design and/or algorithm used. It's just a simple tool to assist with antenna setup... not gospel.

How true. In fact, I never even bothered with my signal meter and SNR until the conversations here and I got curious. I just put an antenna on my roof, twisted it till I got everything I wanted and left it alone (for going on 26 years now).
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post #25 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 03:09 PM
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Yeah..they are not perfect, that's for sure.

I wish I had a really good ATSC test signal generator here, to test a few sets. (We have about 200+ sets and converters).
I'd like to see exactly how they all react. I only have ten "close-to-perfect" off air signals, but they all have a small bit of multi-path. I can pad the level down to almost nothing, but can't make the multi-path all go away.

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post #26 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 04:13 PM
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That's right. You cannot make multipath "go away".
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post #27 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 06:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenglish View Post

Sadly, you can rarely find a retailer that has a digital TV set or box connected to an antenna, so it's pretty hard to "see" any of the features that we are talking about here. Note that I always make a point to tell the sales person that, too

Many of the Best Buy & HH Gregg stores in the DC area have OTA available on the floor. They will usually have their HD looped material playing, but you can surf the scanned channels & find the OTA's as well. A real plus at HH Gregg since their normal source is a soft, crappy satellite feed.
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post #28 of 42 Old 12-12-2011, 10:00 PM
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I'd like to see a tuner with the following:
1) 2 or more RF inputs with a separate channel memory for each.
2) A wideband (as wide as the preamp stage) power meter that indicates how close you are to saturating the preamp.
3) A channel power indicator measuring in dB that covers the entire operating range of the tuner (HDHomeRun power indicator saturates at 100% long before the tuner saturates)
4) A signal quality indicator that indicates dB above reception cliff, and does not stop indicating when the quality drops below zero (zero being the minimum level that the tuner can recover the signal at).
5) A symbol quality indicator that indicates how much of the data stream was recovered in percent.
6) an I Q scatter plot of the analog to digital converter data from the tuner. One can identify many sources of reception problems from the shape of the scatter plot.
7) Updatable firmware so bugs can be fixed.
8) A second tuner to keep the EPG up to date on all channels so I don't have to wait for the program listing to be downloaded every time I look at the guide.
9) An LED display that can handle the number of digits used by Comcast for their channel number (How does your tuner deal with channel 100.9396 ?)
10) A properly working HDMI output with working digital audio.
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post #29 of 42 Old 12-13-2011, 05:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAP View Post

7) Updatable firmware so bugs can be fixed.
8) A second tuner to keep the EPG up to date on all channels so I don't have to wait for the program listing to be downloaded every time I look at the guide.
10) A properly working HDMI output with working digital audio.

7) Many TV's now have updatable firmware either by USB or ethernet. The biggest issue is having the manufacturer acknowledge and address the bugs.

8) What EPG? TVGoS? Most EPG's download at least one to two weeks of info.

10) You can find a TV and audio receiver that supports ARC.
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post #30 of 42 Old 12-13-2011, 07:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAP View Post

I'd like to see a tuner with the following:
.....
2) A wideband (as wide as the preamp stage) power meter that indicates how close you are to saturating the preamp.
3) A channel power indicator measuring in dB that covers the entire operating range of the tuner (HDHomeRun power indicator saturates at 100% long before the tuner saturates)
4) A signal quality indicator that indicates dB above reception cliff, and does not stop indicating when the quality drops below zero (zero being the minimum level that the tuner can recover the signal at).
..............

All that would require a bit more computing power than the average box...more likely something you'd find in a professional monitoring receiver.

But, it could be done. Many radio communications receivers can do a "snapshot' scan of the nearby channels as you tune new segments of the band. A DTV receiver could be designed to do a quick scan (on demand) and show a graphic of the levels. It could look for "garbage" in between channels, to indicate overload.
As for the Quality meter (#4), the ones I'm familiar with will show a tiny "blip" of signal down to the minimum detectable signal, which is usually a negative S/N and is far too low to recover data. That's part of the design of the system, using the trellis encoding IIRC. It's just locking to the data stream. It won't show much more until it starts to decode the data and can detect enough of the header to start the (multi-path) equalizer working. That's that "jump" that occurs between the two point ("blip" and actual "reading"), and is due to the need to get about 15 dB or so of S/N between detection and demodulation.

Good ideas. I'd like to buy one.

Ken English, Sr. Engineer, KSL-TV.
"The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent the Company positions, strategies or opinions."
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