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Tweaking TV: OTA, HD & Ultra HD

No matter how you get your TV signals, there are always ways to tweak the experience. Ten years ago I lived in a cabin in rural North Carolina where tweaking usually meant standing out on the porch to adjust the antenna on the low tin roof. For the most part, tweaking has grown more sophisticated, but as the NAB and CEA tell us, there’s still some antenna adjusting to do if you get over-the-air broadcasts. Since the digital transition, there are apparently still issues with VHF reception between channels two and thirteen. Ironically, one of the problems is interference with antennas from TV sets. A new industry/government tip sheet recommends that consumers place antennas far away from their actual sets and other electronic gadgets.

Meanwhile, if you’ve jumped into HD, getting the best picture gets a little more challenging. First you have to pick the right TV, then you have to pay attention to video source, resolution settings, etc. Once again a digital tip sheet created by the FCC and industry groups has some suggestions, but you can dive in a lot deeper by scouring expert sites. Find professional opinions at sites like CNET and PC Mag. Get the latest scoop at EngadgetHD. See quantitative analysis of mounds of data at Retrevo. Or go for the wisdom of the community over at gdgt.

Finally, if you think you’ve gotten a handle on HD, just wait, 3D and Ultra HD are on their way. The 3D concept is well-known, but if you’re curious about Ultra HD (not the Mark Cuban kind), it refers to image resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels or 7680 x 4320 pixels. A new In-Stat report suggests some Ultra HD content could start broadcasting as early as 2017, with 40% of North American homes having Ultra HD sets by 2025. Okay, that’s more than a few years down the road, but it pays to start looking ahead. The roaring twenties will be here again before we know it.

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