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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm "negotiating" with both my wife and DirecTV about getting a set top box (e.g. Hughes E86 or Samsung 160). Assuming I can receive local HD OTA, will I be also be able to get non-HD local channels OTA in digital quality? In other words, can I cancel the local portion of my DirecTV (about 6 or 7 bucks per month) because I will get digital quality broadcasts with my STB even if they are not in HD? Maybe this is a programming question, but what do the HD channels broadcast when there is no HD program for that time slot?


Thanks in advance,

Young
 

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You are mixing up your terminology a bit; also "digital" shouldn't be used as a synonym for "quality". There are plenty channels on DirecTV, all of which are digital, where the quality is quite marginal.


The STBs will receive both analog and digital broadcasts OTA. You can go to http://www.antennaweb.org to find out which local stations are broadcasting digitally in your area. The digital stations broadcast a mix of SD and HD programming. When no true HD feed is available, they will typically either broadcast in SD, or upconvert the SD at the station and broadcast it as HD. The upconverts are usually 4:3 programming in a 16:9 window(bars on the sides), although some local stations are butchering it and stretching/cropping the picture into weird formats (14:9, etc.).


The quality of these SD, or SD upconverted to HD, transmissions is usually much better than the stuff available through the satellite. Even analog broadcasts, if you get decent reception, will often be better.


You can cancel the $6/month locals via sat option, unless you have something like a DirecTV DVR w/ Tivo which needs them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, that clears it up a bit. Still wondering about one thing though...are these stations always broadcasting in digital? - which is an all or nothing proposition. I ask this because my regular analog reception is not so good where I am (but hopefully good enough to be over the threshold for receiving digitial?) So, is the signal for these SD programs analogue programs converted to digital for broadcasting, then does the STB decode the digital back to analogue (via component cables)?


Thanks again,

Young
 

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Quote:
are these stations always broadcasting in digital?
The digital channels are always broadcasting digitally (unless the station goes down for technical reasons, then they aren't broadcasting anything at all). Until the analog signals get turned off and the spectrum returned to government for auction, each local station will broadcast signals on 2 channels; one analog channel, one digital channel. E.g. a station might be VHF channel 5 analog, UHF channel 29 digital. The digital receiver usually remaps the channel # to the more familiar analog #, so the box might label the analog station as channel 5, and the digital subchannels as 5-1, 5-2, 5-3, etc. although in reality it's tuning to channel 29 when on those.

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- which is an all or nothing proposition.
Not exactly; there is a state where with marginal reception you just get varying amounts of audio/video dropouts.

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I ask this because my regular analog reception is not so good where I am (but hopefully good enough to be over the threshold for receiving digitial?)
Who knows? Maybe you need a better antenna, or better antenna placement/aiming.

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So, is the signal for these SD programs analogue programs converted to digital for broadcasting, then does the STB decode the digital back to analogue (via component cables
STB has to convert to analog for anything, not just SD, unless you are using DVI output to your display. The source for the SD programming varies, most of the time it is just digitized from the analog feed, but sometimes they have a digital SD feed available (e.g. certain Fox shows in some markets)
 
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