Let me blog quickly to say I'm not impressed with much of DTV. Whoever designed this obviously did not test the technology using rabbit ears in the field.

Several big issues with reception.

* When DTV reception isn't good, you get complete breaks in the picture and sound. With good reception, DTV is super crisp. With troubled reception, like today for me with a particularly windy day, it's nearly impossible to watch because instead of being fuzzy, it skips.

* The sound skips as well with bad reception. There are serious breaks in sound. Never did I realize how important dialogue is to plot until I couldn't hear it. Even with horrendously bad pictures, analog transmissions tend to keep a steady sound track.

NOTE: This isn't an inherent limitation of digital TV. They could, for example, put out the sound track three or four times, perhaps ahead of the picture, and have the receiver put together a full track in time for the picture. This is a limitation inherent with the implementation that, again, wasn't well field tested. I'm in an urban area, nearly spitting distance from an interstate and a large mall. I shouldn't have trouble with my signal so bad that I'm back to watching analog on every channel when it's windy.

* It's nearly impossible to tune your antennae. With analog signals, you get instant feedback regarding the strength of your signal as you move your antennae around, add foil, whatever. Here, you have to pause with every move to let the receiver catch up and decode the signal, which takes about a half-second, before you can tell if you've improved your reception. Meanwhile, the transmission is unwatchable -- not merely fuzzy, but unwatchable. Getting sound straight, like I suggest above with redundant sound broadcast, would help a ton with the unwatchable part, but you still can't tune the antennae quickly.

The "signal strength" number reading I get from my receivers setup display isn't much better, as the box still has to decode the signal in the new position before it can get me a reading. Also note that moving the antennae at all invariably cuts out the picture and sound for a second. Not cool.

Also note that this Magnavox TB100MW9 (as well as every other Set Top Box (STB) I've seen) doesn't have any controls on the box. Lose the remote, and you're toast.

In sum, DTV is a better system if it's used in a controlled system. In practice, in the "real" field, it's, so far, grossly inferior to analog broadcasts. I realize I'm used to the fuzzy picture the same way I can listen to talk on AM through static and whines that drive others crazy. Yet even when I factor in that realization, today's bad weather tells me DTV wasn't as well engineered as it should have been.

So now what?