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Over-the-Air Antenna
Remember the days before cable when you had rabbit ears that sat on top of the TV? That antenna picked up the free live broadcasts from television stations in your area. Those broadcasts still are happening, and as of Feb. 18, they will be exclusively digital with some channels even transmitting in high definition.

When you think of antennas, you think of channels that fade in and out with a snowy picture. That's not how over-the-air digital TV broadcasts work. It's an all-or-nothing proposition: You either get a crystal-clear signal or you get nothing at all.

The Windows Media Center program allows the Jameses' to plug the antenna into the back of their Media Center PC and watch TV (some in high def) from ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and PBS. There are about 50 channels they can receive in the San Francisco Bay Area, including some independent channels and alternate language broadcasts.

With access to those live channels, the Windows Media Center can act as a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). It has the Tivo-like properties to record all your favorite shows and let you pause and rewind live TV. Once you buy the antenna (less than $50) and connect it to a PC that has Windows Media Center, you pay nothing for this over-the-air TV.

Aggregator sites like hulu.com or joost.com can give you access to cable content from HGTV, FX and USA. But bottom line, there's no guarantee that everything you want to watch is

from abc

Notes from someone's blog:  this is about buying and actual HDTV television set.
Disappointed by how fuzzy CNN looks on your new HDTV? Wondering why Jack Bauer looks so soft and plump on your new flat-screen? Maybe it's because you're not really watching HD on your high-def TV.

According to Audioholics, almost half of the 24 million homes with HDTVs lack an HD cable or satellite feed, and about a quarter of those surveyed didn't even know they were still watching non-HD signals. Why such big numbers? Actually, it's not hard to understand; I can't tell you how many times I've watched salespeople at TV stores push HDTVs on hapless shoppers, going on and on about the razor-sharp picture and surround sound, but not bothering to tell them how to get HD signals into their living rooms.

The Audioholics story ticks off six things you need to know before you buy an HDTV, and it's a must-read if you're in the market for your first high-def set. Here's a brief summary of some of the pointers, along with some thoughts of my own:

Your new HDTV needs an HD feed: Just plugging your regular cable or satellite box into your new HD set won't get you a high-def picture. You'll need to contact your cable or satellite provider and ask for an HD set-top box (satellite subscribers may also have to upgrade their dishes), and you may want to sign up for an HD subscription plan, as well (which typically offer channels like Discovery HD Theater and HDNet). Still watching TV using an over-the-air antenna? A good, properly aligned rooftop antenna may still do a good job of pulling down HD signals, but unless your HDTV has a built-in HD tuner (many don't), you'll have to buy a separate high-def tuner box to go with your set.
Your HDTV/set-top box/cables must be configured properly: First, make sure you're using the right inputs when connecting your HD set-top box to your HDTV. You must use either the component-video inputs (a trio of RCA-type plugs, marked "Y," "Pb," and "Pr") the DVI input or the HDMI input. The composite and S-Video connectors on your TV can't receive HD signals, so if the cable guy starts hooking those inputs up, time to raise the red flag. Also, your cable or satellite HD box must be set to send an HD signal to your display; go to the set-top box menu and look for the display settings, and select either 720p or 1080i (depending on the native resolution of your HDTV). Finally, once you're ready to watch HD, make sure you're watching the right channel. If you're used to watching ABC on, say, cable channel 7, that's only the standard-def version of ABC; the HD version is probably much further down the dial, usually in the 700s. Check your programming guide.
Most TV programming is still in standard definition: I'm still amazed by how many people think that an HDTV will display all their shows in high definition. Now, if you're only watching scripted (i.e., non-reality) prime-time shows on the major broadcast networks, then yes, there's a good chance that most of those shows are in HD (save a few holdouts, like "Scrubs" on NBC). But the vast majority of programming that's out there, ranging from "Queer Eye" and "Regis and Kelly" to "Pardon the Interruption" and "Sesame Street", is produced in standard definition, and your HDTV won't magically convert SD shows to HD. Check out TitanTV to see what's in HD in your area.

SD typically looks terrible on an HDTV: Standard-def shows can look remarkably bad on a 50-inch display. Imagine taking a grainy Polaroid picture and blowing it up to monster size. If you miss how CNN used to look on your old 27-inch direct-view set, keep in mind that you were watching it on a much smaller screen.
HDTV screens are wider than SD pictures: Because HDTV screens have a wide 16:9 aspect ratio, your new set will stretch the boxy 4:3 shape of a standard-definition show to fill the screen, which will make everything look short and squat. You have two choices: either live with the short-and-squat look on your SD channels, or dig into your HD set-top box settings and add sidebars to the SD channels. Yes, you'll have to deal with black bars on the left and right sides of the screen, but at least the picture won't look like a circus fun-house mirror.
An upconverting DVD player doesn't turn standard DVDs into HD: I'm a big fan of DVD players that upconvert standard-def DVDs to 1080i or even 1080p, but make no mistake; because the source DVD disc is standard definition, you're still watching an SD picture (albeit, one that's been extrapolated to HD proportions). If you want true HD images from your DVD player, you'll have to pony up $400 or more for a Blu-ray or HD DVD drive.

Still confused? Then check out the Audioholics story, which goes into much greater detail.
 
This article is a little misleading. Many cable companies broadcast the national network feeds in HD unencryted and free over their analog cable. All you need is an HDTV with a QAM tuner to receive these broadcasts in HD. That's what I've been doing for the past 1.5 months with my Comcast analog basic service (I get Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC and PBS in HD, when broadcast in HD).

I would just like to point out that a HDTV and a HD monitor TV are two different entities. The HDTV has the HD tuner built into the set, while a HD monitor is only capable of showing an HD signal, but still needs the signal to be converted (via the set-top box).

 
one thing you should try and avoid is the black bars on the sides of the screen. the longer you have those on there the more chance you have of burning that image into the tubes that display your picture onto the screen. i know this is the case with any tube projected pictures but im not sure with plasma and lcd.
 
Monster HDMI = waste of money. Digital is digital and unless you're trying to use a coat hangar and some solder, cheap is the best way to go. He should also mention you can zoom SD pictures to full screen effetively cropping the top and bottom but avoiding black bars and distortion.

In response to neonsohc84, on plasmas and rear projection TV's you have to worry about image burn from the side bars. LCD's you don't.

If you're a penny pincher but want HDTV, remember, there is no such thing as "bad" over the air reception with HD. If all you have are rabbit ears and are within the slightly tighter broadcast "circle" of HDTV broadcasters, your TV will be every bit as crisp and interesting as that which you might have piped to your house through cable or satellite. I think most of us would opt for a TV signal carrier of some sort or other, but it's a quiet little secret that HDTV sets don't actually NEED them. It's supposed to be one of the pluses in high def taking over in the first place but since there's no money in everyone using rabbit ears, no-one talks about it!

http://news.digitaltrends.com/talkback184.html

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070428/ap_on_hi_te/rabbit_ear_revival_5

And no you don't just need rabbit ears, there is a special HD antenna that you must buy to receive the over the air HD channels. Look it up.

 

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