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Intel Developing DTV Antenna; Coupons Resume

While the public television market slowly shifts over to digital broadcasting, Intel looks to chime in on the switch with its own DTV antenna. Unfortunately, it still may not help viewers retrieve a clear signal.

A few days ago, Intel said that its researchers developed the world's first embedded balanced antenna for digital TV. Although the design is currently patent pending, Intel's "innovation" will enable on-the-go users to receive OTA digital television on their laptop without the need for an external antenna.  While the company offered no other specifics, the embedded antenna would alleviate the need to carry or keep track of additional equipment.

In the meantime, the 2.3 million households currently sitting on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) coupon waiting list may be able to breathe a sigh or relief now that the $650 million economic stimulus package has kicked in. Last week officials said that the entire waiting list should dissipate in a matter of weeks as new coupons--funded by the new stimulus boost--go out in the mail "first class."

However, those households that are already receiving digital transmissions are finding that the voucher dilemma was only the tip of the iceberg. Many have discovered that tuning into the digital channel lineup isn't quite as simple as the advertisements foretold, that signals come in, or they don't. There's no in-between haze as seen with analog channels when the signals lose strength. In fact, getting a digital station to come in without disruption is actually quite tricky, as it seems apparent that digital signals just don't have the same coverage as the older analog format. 

"When you listen to the advertisements, it's 'Oh, all you have to do is get this little digital converter box and hook it up,'" said Harry Vanderpool of Salem, Oregon. "Well, we get nothing. Zero signal strength."

Consumers are hearing that--on top of having to shell out money for the digital converter box--they probably need an outdoor antenna to receive the new signals. Sometimes signals can come in crystal clear, and then ten minutes later pictures turn into a pixilated explosion that is not only annoying, but sometimes may not clear back up for hours. Despite what advertisers and officials may claim, there are no DTV-specific antennas required for reception; any one will work. However, it's getting those antennas -whether they're rabbit ears, amplified or mounted outside- to actually keep a signal for a long period of time.

To add onto the overall annoyance, the FCC even admitted that when a station moves from VHF to UHF, there are dead zones where the signal can no longer reach as it once did before. The good news is that, after June 12, many stations will use the VHF frequencies to transmit digital TV, hopefully resolving many reception issues. 

But while Intel's innovative DTV antenna shows promise, that consumers can watch digital television anywhere without the need to lug around additional equipment, the entire DTV structure needs improvement. Those who purchase laptops with Intel's antenna may very well smash that device once they experience the aggravation many DTV consumers are already tolerating.

  • It's silly why so few laptops can actually receive a signal over the air, like FM radio, & digital audio and video broadcasted.

    You'd expect out of all the devices that a Laptop should be able to do that!
    I mean, FM radio is enabled on some MP3 players and phones, and even some watches!
    A laptop should at least do this much, because it's able.
    Only, not all laptops will be able to display 1080 video, as well as the antenna of a regular HD is about 3 foot.
    Any lower,and the reception might be very lousy (unless amplified).
    Reply
  • the reasons laptop or some "seem-to-be-able-to-do-it devices" does not have certain popular features.....cost..

    1, it is a costly R/D nightmare to design so many features with all sort of antenna working peacefully at the same time.
    2, it is costly to pass all the regulatory certification for even a country..imaging for a global market..that's way too costly.
    3, adding a feature to a electronic devices is not as easy as making a cup cake at home. It is a huge process.

    Reply
  • The reason for laptops or "Seem-to-be-able-to-do-it-all" devices does not come with all the popular features...cost...

    1, It is a costly R/D nightmare to design many features into a electronic device and make sure they can work peacefully with all sort of antenna.

    2, too expensive to pass all the certifications to compliance with local regulatory.
    Reply
  • TV on laptop or mobile phone will happen in Europe where they chose a superior modulation method (COFDM versus 8VSB for DTV in North America). Some lobbied FCC to go COFDM in 2001, but FCC quickly rejected it. The issue isn't signal strength, but MULTIPATH and 8VSB is really bad at dealing with it. Almost seems like a deliberate win for lobbyists that wanted to keep subscribers on Satellite TV or cable.

    BTW... I have a tower mounted antenna and get 23 DTV signals with very few dropouts... you just need a decent antenna. Forget the indoor amplified stuff.
    Reply
  • ram1009
    Has anyone heard whether or not the FEDS are going to or perhaps already have renewed expired converter coupons? I ordered mine the first time I heard about the program over a year ago and there weren't any boxes even available then. I had no idea they expired in 30 days. I heard there was a chance they would renew expired coupons but nothing recently.
    Reply
  • Caffeinecarl
    I've been assisting my grandparents with this whole matter for months now and I've found good digital reception to be somewhat elusive. It comes and goes wildly. The same antenna picked up flawless analog reception and it wasn't cheap. If Intel can come up with an antenna that's somehow smarter and better than the not so old one they're using right now, I'll buy it. Then I guess convert the not so old but still good antenna into an FM radio antenna. Did that with my own antenna after I subscribed to cable and it's still rolling nicely!
    Reply
  • Regected
    Nature is analog. There is nothing that is naturally digital. Therefore, the interference will be analog. An analog signal can handle this interference. A digital signal gets distorted beyond usage.

    The FCC is only making this forced transition because companies have lobbied for it to happen. A digital signal takes up less bandwidth than an analog signal. The lobbying companies wanted to buy the freed bandwidth to use or sell later. There is no other logical reason both analog and digital signals can't be broadcast simultaneously.
    Reply
  • zuesacuatl
    Suck it up and go by a sat for petes sake. And a portion of the old signals is going to be dedicated to opening government hosted free internet in high traffic city centers. The transition benefits the common man if he were using digital devices. Dont tell me you can not afford them, I have 7 Kids, not so great rate of pay, and just put aside a little money at a time till I could get my flat panel 1080p screen. Dish Network is not as good as Directv, but hell, with packages starting at only 20 bucks, even a poor family can afford that if they want tv that much.
    Reply
  • Mr_Man
    There's always the home-made route. I use a home-made indoor antenna that requires no power cable and I receive all the channels from the towers 22 miles away. I followed this video's instructions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWQhlmJTMzw
    Reply
  • ram1009
    zuesacuatlSuck it up and go by a sat for petes sake. And a portion of the old signals is going to be dedicated to opening government hosted free internet in high traffic city centers. The transition benefits the common man if he were using digital devices. Dont tell me you can not afford them, I have 7 Kids, not so great rate of pay, and just put aside a little money at a time till I could get my flat panel 1080p screen. Dish Network is not as good as Directv, but hell, with packages starting at only 20 bucks, even a poor family can afford that if they want tv that much.
    FYI, the $20 package from DISH has next to nothing that anybody watches and doesn't even include local channels. They know nobody will buy it and that's why they can advertise it as a starting point.
    Reply