Well, I've whined about DTV a bit here, particularly reception, and I finally figured out the program. The government needed to not only subsidize the converter boxes (the selection for which is still abysmal) but also better antennas.

I finally gave in, after going through a couple of sets of rabbit ears, and shelled out for an UHF antenna that got awfully good recommendations online. Right now, it's inside the house, on a table next to the TV, and it's already heads and shoulders above the reception we had before. For under $40 shipped, I got the Antennas Direct DB2 Multi Directional HDTV Antenna. Before, I used to have to move the antenna to get different stations. Now, without even aiming the antenna, just plopping it where it fit easily, we can even watch the station that'd stopped coming in fairly well.

Let's assume this antenna makes DTV a viable choice for getting OTA broadcasts. There are about a billion ways to critique that the gov't left getting a good antenna out of their literature and pork payments to Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Circuit City. It's obvious to me now that DTV is more difficult to receive over the air because of its very low fault tolerance. There's no white noise in the picture anymore. Instead, we get drops (pixelated pictures and *no* sound) so bad that the TV is unwatchable. How do folks that don't have Internet access supposed to find out what's a decent antenna? How can we assume they have $40 to shell out for a better antenna? (And, one thing I'm ignoring for now, what if their local stations broadcast in VHF, which this antenna doesn't handle? The VHF antennas with similarly good reviews are even more expensive.)

Again, the converter box voucher program only went half-way. Getting DTV takes more than your standard rabbit ears in my limited experience, supported by my understanding of how it works (again, the low fault tolerance), and the government (that is us, the people who it represents) should feel some responsibility to ensure that people without the knowledge (if only because of a lack of Internet access) or resources to buy what they need get it and continue receiving the (albeit rare) crucial information about their communities the television provides.

Seriously, our household nearly went the basic cable route thanks to the bad rabbit ear experience. Glad I held out, but I'm sure a significant number aren't.