Digital TV Antenna Basics

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You may laugh and say that TV antennas are a leftover from a forgotten time. With your 500 channel satellite package or your 14 premium cable movie channels, you’d be right to scoff. Until you get your bill. Many viewers are embracing digital TV antennas to get the same audio quality and stellar that you pay big bucks for; all for free. There are several advantages to OTA (over-the air) reception and I’ll discuss those along with how to choose the best antenna for HDTV in your area.

Broadcast HDTV channels are the best of the best

The digital television transition is bringing with it solutions to the 2 most annoying troubles of analog broadcasting; snow and picture ghosting. Digital TV channels allow for a crisp, ghost-free picture and clear sound. All local content is not yet broadcast in HDTV, so it’s typical for stations to broadcast their digital TV channels in standard definition during the day and switch to a full widescreen HDTV broadcast during the “prime time” hours.

If you’ve never experienced what a digital TV antenna can do for you, here are a few reasons to consider one:

  • Over-the-air (OTA) digital TV channels are free. With the exception of the costs you incur for your antenna, receiving digital stations with an HDTV antenna is free.
  • You get access to all your local channels. Many satellite and cable companies will not carry all of the local stations in your area. On many systems, you have access to some of your local stations in exchange for an extra monthly fee.
  • Free access to out of town stations. It’s possible that with the right equipment you can receive out of town stations and often be able to catch sporting events that are “blacked out” in your area.
  • Local digital TV channels are everywhere. Although the largest concentration of digital TV stations are in metropolitan areas, 90% of US viewers can easily get 6 or more digital TV channels.
  • OTA reception has the best picture quality. While your satellite or cable company may offer 500 channels, this comes with a price. They use data compression techniques that lower the audio and image quality of your broadcast often adding distortion or artifacts.

Of course in addition to your HDTV antenna, you will also need some sort of HDTV tuner to receive these digital TV channels, more often than not on newer TVs this ability is already built in. If you have an “integrated” HDTV, or it mentions an ATSC tuner, you are ready to rock. Also, if you currently subscribe to an HDTV package from DISH or DIRECTV, your receiver almost certainly includes an over-the-air HDTV tuner.

Finding your OTA digital TV channels

One of the best ways to find specific digital TV information for your address is the AntennaWeb.org website. You simply put in your address and it will return a list of the digital stations in your area. It allows you to look at both analog and digital TV stations in your area, or you can filter it to show digital broadcasts only. Since many stations broadcast from the same area, they will be clustered together on your results page. Now that you know what digital TV channels are available in your area, it’s time to pick your antenna.

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American Mainstream Media – Player Or Tool?

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Many different types of communication tools, such as the TV, cinema, radio, newspapers and magazines, web sites and the music industry, can be classified as media. An important issue relating American media is the concept of “concentration of media ownership”. This concept implies that the ownership of most of America’s media lay in the hands of a few media conglomerates, who both earn huge sums of money through advertising and sale of copyrighted material, and, at the same time, are considered as important global players, regarding the fact that they influence people’s views about their surrounding world to a large extent.

But on the other hand, some argue that instead of being powerful players, the American media are in fact tools in the hands of the government. In this paper, each theory will be investigated to see which one better describes the role of media in both the American society and also the world.

It is claimed that there is no stronger power in the world than the American public opinion, and this public opinion is itself shaped by the media, so media can be regarded as taking the place of the powerful kings and popes of the past centuries (National Vanguard Books, 2004). There are many different ways through which media carefully shapes people’s opinions. It provides its audience with an image of the world, and then tells them what and how to think about that image. By stereotyping, the media also tell people how to think and judge about others (this others can refer to different races, women…). The media also plays its role by concentrating on certain stories and issues, while omitting others.

Among other communication media, the television is the most influential, regarding the fact that people spend a lot of time watching TV, probably much more than they spend on other media, such as the cinema or newspapers. According to a survey by Mediamark Research, 98% of Americans have a television, while only 79% are newspaper readers. Three examples of how public opinion is shaped by American media are:

– middle east news, and how the Arab-Israeli conflict is portrayed

– the 9/11 events and the wars that followed

– racial issues

The government has always declared the media to be a power that doesn’t always act in the right way. The conservatives have always complained that the US media have been unpatriotic and not supportive of government’s foreign policy, or simply too liberal.

The Media Research Center has carried out a study on the role of media on the war on terror, from such a conservative viewpoint. The report gives examples of why the American media have not reported the war and relating issues in the correct way:

– Peter Jennings of ABC, in a live program 2 days after the 9/11 attacks stated: “the US might no longer be a free country” and he also claimed that civil liberties have been suspended in the country.

– The “US Patriot Act” was reflected in a way by the media that made it look like some form of unconstitutional “snooping into the lives of ordinary Americans”.

– In the case of moving of Al-Qaede prisoners to Guantanamo Bay, media reported that they had been tortured, and should have access to civilian courts.

– When the New York Times revealed that the NSA (National Security Agency) was monitoring phone calls, it made it look like a threat to civil liberties. (Rich Noyes, 2006)

There are other studies that have used the war on terror to conclude that the media in America have been independent players, and not controlled by the government.

Jim Kuypers is a political communication researcher who claims that the mainstream media intentionally reflected the speeches of President Bush in a biased manner. Kuyper claims that “if someone were relying only on the mainstream media for information, they would have no idea what the president actually said. It was as if the press were reporting on a different speech.” He concludes the US media to be an “anti-democratic institution”. (Kuypers, 2006)

Other writers have claimed that the media have concentrated too much on the government’s failures and weaknesses during the war. (Lustick, 2006)

Opposing this “media as power” theory which portrays the US media as an independent power, calls it the “Fourth Estate”, and claims that journalists are more influential than any government official in setting the public (and sometimes foreign) agenda, are the “media as tool” advocates.

Two important points helps understand why the media are referred to as a tool:

– the media is dependent on the government for the information that it can obtain, and that it can call credible

– the media can criticize the government only within certain parameters that are acceptable to the government and its notion of national security

These facts are said to turn the media into a public relations arm of the US government. (Edward, 1993)

Again, the war on terror would be an interesting context in which the role of media can be studied, this time with the “media as tool” viewpoint.

The concept of “embedded journalism” appeared during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and proved to be a good way to keep reporters content and controlled at the same time. The media put pressure on the government to allow them better access to battlegrounds; they were not pleased with the way they were shut down from information in case of Afghanistan, and also the way they were censored in the Gulf War. And pentagon made the best out of all this, as Lt. Col. Rick Long of the U.S. Marine Corps put it: “Frankly, our job is to win the war. Part of that is information warfare. So we are going to attempt to dominate the information environment.” (Kahn, 2004)

In this project, reporters signed contracts with the military which limited what they were allowed to report. Reporters were embedded in selected military units, and so shared their everyday lives with soldiers, and relied on them to get them to the place they wanted, and they usually didn’t have access to any other source other than the military.

A Penn State study reveals that this project did affect the number and the type of stories that were published by major newspapers, and the result was that more articles about the U.S. soldiers’ personal lives and fewer ones about the impact of the war on Iraqi civilians were printed in the 754 news articles that were analyzed in this study. (Linder, 2006)

It can be concluded that the media can enjoy a certain degree of independence, provided that they don’t cross certain red lines, and remain faithful to certain notions that are important to the US government. American media is not just a “power” or a “tool”, but a powerful tool that can be used in a very affective way by the government, if only they can come up with clever ideas and projects, like the “embedded journalism” project. In the “Information Age” (Hess and Kalb, 2003), tactics like hiding the whole story or direct censoring will certainly be ineffective. The US government surely will evaluate its “embedding strategy” and might come up with new and innovative ideas in order to reflect issues and events in its own way, and stay in control of this powerful soft tool.

Bibliography:

1. Edward, Herman, The media’s role in U.S. foreign policy (Power of the Media in the Global System), Journal of International Affairs, June 1993

2. Hess, Stephen and Kalb, Martin, The Media and the War on Terrorism, Brookings Institution Press, 2003

3. Kahn, Jeffery, Postmortem: Iraq war media coverage dazzled but it also obscured, NewsCenter, 18 March 2004

4. Kuypers, Jim, Bush’s War: Media Bias and Justifications for War in a Terrorist Age, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. , October 28, 2006

5. Lustick, Ian S., Trapped in the War on Terror. University of Pennsylvania Press, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006

6. Linder, Andrew, Study on Embedded Journalism, The Pennsylvania State University, 2006

7. Noyes, Rich, MRC research director, The Media vs. The War on Terror: How ABC, CBS, and NBC Attack America’s Terror-Fighting Tactics as Dangerous, Abusive and Illegal, September 11, 2006

8. Research staff of National Vanguard Books, Who Rules America? The Alien Grip Our News and Entertainment Media Must Be Broken, November 2004

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Western Digital WD TV Live Review

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Okay! Here goes my first gadget review. I am going to tell about a very cool bit of technology innovation called Western Digital WD TV Live player. A small cute device that is going to change the way you viewed connected media before!

Honestly speaking I didn’t appreciate this amazing piece of work when my husband bought it. Well he is a gadget freak or more rightly an electronics-shopaholic. But just like any shopaholics he has his own way of convincing why that was a ‘can’t live without’ stuff. I was really skeptical if any of his reasoning was going to even convince me on this. But this time, it was the product that convinced me! I’d not say that it’s a gadget you can’t live without, but I’d definitely say its worth every penny for its versatility.

Features:

Full-HD 1080p video playback.

Plays almost all types of media

Audio – MP3, WMA, OGG, WAV/PCM/LPCM, AAC, FLAC, Dolby Digital, AIF/AIFF, MKA

Photo – JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP, PNG

Video – MPEG1/2/4, WMV9, AVI (MPEG4, Xvid, AVC), H.264, MKV, MOV (MPEG4, H.264),MTS, TP, TS

Playlist PLS, M3U, WPL Subtitle -SRT (UTF-8), SMI, SUB, ASS, SSA

Doesn’t require a Western Digital networked device to be able to play the media in it.

Live streaming from YouTube, Flickr, Pandora, and Live365. What’s more here?? You can login to your personal accounts in these internet media sites and play just your favorites! (Unfortunately Netflix and Picasa are missing.)

Comes with a good remote control.

Hitches:

Yeah it does have few hitches.

1. Though the network setup is really simple (just have to plug-in the cable from router), a small mistake in setting up file sharing in connected PCs can take ages to resolve. I personally had this problem (I had one Win7 laptop and one Win XP laptop – WD in fact offered to take the device back as they couldn’t say why I couldn’t connect to the networked laptops. Thankfully I had sense enough to Google for the solution and we were able to do the network media sharing!)

2. No inbuilt wireless connectivity. But this can be excused as streaming media over the network is better when its wired rather than wireless. (We did try the Wireless-N adapter, but it works pretty good as our router is also 802.11 draft2 N class – but definitely not as good as having it hard connected). So what’s the hitch? The extra bucks that you’ll have to throw in for the wireless adapter (and a N router).

Final Word:

This all in one wonder box is sure enough worth the money and will have you hooked on to it. Its a real piece of entertainment – Go for it! Its time for you to experience the good things that come in this small package.

Read more: http://mymindstalk.blogspot.com/2010/09/western-digital-wd-tv-live-review.html

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