In order to receive HDTV programming you must have a HD capable display and receiver. HD displays are those capable of displaying at least 720 lines of horizontal resolution and should be marked as 720p or 1080i (the first number refers to the number of lines of horizontal resolution and the p or i stands for progressive display or interlaced display).
OTA or Over-The-Air reception is free but requires a UHF/VHF antenna and OTA capable receiver or integrated HDTV display. Digital cable receivers will not decode OTA signals but most satellite receivers will. The receiver must be connected to a UHF/VHF antenna. There is no such thing as an HDTV antenna - the signals being broadcast are no different than any other UHF/VHF channel and ANY UHF/VHF antenna will work. If you are within a few miles of the towers a simple indoor antenna such as the Zenith Silver Sensor should suffice. If you are further out then a larger outdoor antenna such as the Channel Master 4228 may be needed. This antenna can be mounted 12 ft above the roofline for optimum reception or mounted in the attic. Areas 20 miles or more from the towers may also require a mast mounted pre-amp such as the channel master 7777 . A rotor is also recommended for fine tuning or if the towers are in different directions.
With cable you must have a cable card ready TV or obtain a receiver from the cable company. You will be able to receive all the digital stations that the cable company provides with no additional equipment. However, not all cable companies carry all local digital stations. You rent the cable box or cable card from the cable company so you don’t have to purchase any equipment other than the UHF/VHF antenna. VOOM is a new satellite provider with more HD channels than DirecTV or DISH but they have no plans to provide HD local channels.
There are currently 3 satellite providers: DirecTV, Dish and VOOM. None provide any local digital channels, but DirecTV should have them for Atlanta by summer 2005. Dish will probably follow suit. However, all satellite receivers have built-in OTA receivers, allowing you to receive the local OTA stations free with no additional equipment.
Tuning Digital Channels OTA
Each digital channel (such as WPBADT channel 30) can carry up to 4 separate sub channels simultaneously. Each sub channel is identified by a main channel number and sub channel number. The main WPBADT channel is listed as 30-1. Additional sub channels would be labeled 30-2, 30-3 and 30-4. The first sub channel is normally used for HD programming while other sub channels can be used for news or weather maps or SD (standard definition) signals. If the channel mapping data has been changed,is incorrect or misinterpreted by the receiver the channels may not decode properly, e.g. 30-1 may show up as 21-1 or just be a blank screen. Re-scanning for digital channels should correct the problem.
For further information on HD Television, go to http://tv.groups.yahoo.com/group/ahdtv/, and join the group, or go to www.antennaweb.org. There you can get a directional map for aiming antennas from your location.
(If you have reception reports, or comments on the signal, you can e-mail us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.