I've been using my DTV converter box for some time now, and I've got its pros and cons down fairly well now.

The pros are numerous. The picture, when you have a good signal, is superb (though, honestly, a perfect analog signal (have you seen one? I get Fox *very* well if I try) is just a small step down). I'm able to get three extra channels (two on educational TV and the CW network) with the multicasts, which is also nice. Finally, now that it's digital, there's really nothing much in the way of getting TVs that, say, will download an Excel file or html page related to the stats you see on a news story or something similar. AppleTV anyone?

The cons still outweigh these positives for me. The first and worst effect of DTV is the horrible "Ivory Tower" engineering it evidences. When the weather's perfect, reception isn't bad. When there's wind, my signal goes to heck every time and I end up watching analog again. From give or take 1-3pm, every day, my signal degrades enough that I start watching analog. Again, I'll mention that the way DTV sound doesn't gain static but completely cuts out instead. This is the single worst part of the DTV system; without consistent sound, a serviceable signal because useless.

Worst about DTV is the impossibility of tuning your antennae. With analog, each minuscule move of the antennae is immediately reflected on your screen, letting you easily and quickly find the best location to get a signal. With digital, you've got no idea if you're getting close or not. It's an impossible task.

Let's remember to add all the VCRs that are rendered nearly obsolete, at least in the market of recording ("time warping") shows being shown over the air. You can route your converter box's signal into channel 3 or 4 your VCR, but your VCR can't change channels. You can only do timer recordings of whatever channel happens to be coming out of the converter box by taping channel 3 or 4, and you won't be able to watch another channel while you're taping. Figuring that much out takes a tiny bit of out of the box thinking, though. Essentially, you're in the market to replace a second major piece of electronics you already own thanks to DTV.

If you've got a lab where you can control the transmitter and the receiver, you can get decent results. If you're in the "real world" trying to grab seven over-the-air channels, swapping back and forth from one to another, well, it's another story entirely. DTV, in this case, STINKS.

Who does this affect? Not those who use cable or satellites. No no, cable companies must love DTV. When you get aggravated enough, do you buy a $300 antennae for your roof or shell out $40 a month for a clear signal and extra channels? I'm betting a decent percentage choose the latter. I feel sorry for older folk who might have a hard time understanding how to hook up a converter box and buy a new TV instead -- much less those that shell out for a TV and can't figure out why the reception, when it's not coming in well, has gone from so danged good to absolutely unwatchable. And I feel a little anger that there will be thousands, I'll bet, of people too out of the loop or just plain too poor to keep watching TV after the switch.