The NY Times article Converters Signal a New Era for TVs reminds us all that in less than two years analog television signals are scheduled to cease.
I receive digital TV over the air so I totally appreciate the improved quality. I think they have given plenty of time to make the switch and vouchers for converters are a nice touch. Many digital TVs sold over the last few years don’t have digital tuners so it would be nice if you could apply the voucher to a digital tuner rather than a converter.
I like digital TV but it is missing something that analog TV has – robustness. With over the air broadcasts weather can affect the signal quality. I don’t live that far from Boston and have a decent “digital ready” attic antenna but I don’t always get a good signal.
With digital TV when the signal is strong the picture and sound are great but when it is weak first the sound drops out and then the picture freezes or goes black. Digital is basically all or nothing. Great sound and picture or none at all.
In contrast an analog TV signal is still useful even when weak. If the signal disruptions are transient (such as during a storm) it is still reasonable to watch a show. In many cases the sound is more important than the picture and you can follow along even if the audio has static. If the picture is a little snowy no big deal (except perhaps that DVDs and cable have raised our expectations of quality).
Many times while trying to watch a digital broadcast I’ll experience a disruption and the sound will drop out and then I will have no idea what is going on in the show. I like having the option of watching the analog channel when it is stormy and the digital one when the weather is nice.
From an end user experience analog TV is more robust than digital. The same can be said of Voice over IP (a kind of digital phone service).