Friday, March 9, 2012


We decided to do some downshift and cancel the cable TV service.

Since Verizon did not include some good channels which could be picked up from the air, and everything else is available via the internet (using such services as hulu+ and Netflix), that's a pretty smart move.

To pick up broadcasted digital channels I bough this antenna (but much cheaper than on the manufacturer site).
Using this antenna I was able picked up a -56.8dBm station which is 44miles away from me (34dB noise margin, according the Pretty impressive.
But to do that I had to hang the antenna to the wall on the second floor, close to the ceiling and mount it on the bracket which comes with the antenna. The result is not quite aesthetic, I say, because now I have that black spot on my white wall. It would be better if the antenna be sold in different colors to let the customer pick the right one. But we have what we have.
This antenna is not omnidirectional, so it provides a good pick up of weak stations from one direction and only strong signals which come from all around.

I bought also a DTV converter box to be used with my video recorder (PVR) running on a PC, since my TV already has an ATSC tuner. The functionality of this converter is much better than the TV provides, for instance, the box can show the scheduled programs short or with description, the TV can't do that. And the video quality is decent.
What is not exactly good - the box is pretty hot. Since I need it be turned on whole night to record some morning shows, I concern is it safe to left it unattended. I hope it won't break.
Minor wishes: Would be nice if it showed the clock when it turned off, and would be great, if it had a RS232 port to control it remotely from my PC.
One thing has disappointed me about this product. The description says it has a "learning" RC, but apparently, it's just a regular universal RC. Need to study the manual though.

Another question was, how to record the shows. I already had an old PC with Windows XP Media Center edition on it (unfortunately, I need Windows to play the Silverlight stream from Netflix), connected to the TV panel, which was used to watch the Netflix and other online streams. This PC has an analog TV tuner LeadTek WinFast TV2000XP which takes the video from the converter in fine quality. The software bundle includes a PVR with an ability to record show by timer. But the UI of the software is way not perfect, so I tried to find an alternative.
It turned out none of the PVR and HTPC software I tried worked with this card. Microsoft Media Center says there is no the tuner in the system at all (and a quick internet research says it won't work with a tuner without a hardware MPEG codec on it). All other,such as NextPVR
(very glitchy), Got-All-Media do not see the tuner as well.
It's very strange, because when this tuner was used in a Linux machine, all the TV software I tried (MythTV, etc.) worked very well.
I put the PC to the Standby mode (S3) and it wakes up on time by a special created windows schedule task with the option "Wake the computer to run the task". I wonder, will the PVR wake up the PC by itself? The manual says, it will. Need to test that.

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