Thursday, August 11, 2005

HDTV on your PC... and reception problems

It has been possible to watch television on your PC for a while now. You just need to purchase a card that fits into an available slot on your PC and has an output where you can plug in your antenna. Your monitor has great resolution and thus you can watch either over-the-air (OTA) television or plug it into cable.

For high definition TV, however, there aren't many choices. The main choice is by the vendor ATI and it is called an HDTV Wonder card. If you use this card, you can watch either regular TV through your PC OR you can watch HDTV. The still photo above is a "snapshot" I took of the David Letterman show with my card. The resolution is very high - much higher than you would see for regular TV.

It isn't well known but HDTV is broadcasting right now. In Chicago there are lots of HDTV stations - if you are interested in the HDTV stations that broadcast over the air in your town you can go to the AVS Forum where there are myriad posts about digital reception in every city in the US and related topics.

HDTV is great for sporting events. Most of the football and baseball games are being broadcast over the air in HDTV; if they marketed this right it might really take off and put a dent in cable or satellite - especially since it is FREE.

My problem is that even though I have a clear line of sight to the Hancock and the Sears Tower in Chicago where they broadcast HDTV (I mean it is CLOSE), I can't pick up HDTV due to interference. This is very frustrating and I have run through a number of antennas trying to improve the situation, but haven't made much headway. I may have to give up entirely....

I recommend buying one of these cards and trying it out. It is a lot of fun using your PC for HDTV and not very expensive (less than $150, and no monthly fees) - even if you can't pick up HDTV you can use it for regular TV and it includes an antenna and remote. Too bad it isn't working for me...

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