By RICH FOLEY
I’ll admit I’m not the first one to jump when new technology beckons. You won’t find me camping out in front of some electronics store waiting to buy the latest gadget, one that will be old news when next month’s must-have device hits the market.
I actually went outside of my self-imposed little box back in 2005 when I bought a brand-new state-of-the-art color television. That was the first time I had bought a new television since 1983 when I got my first apartment. Long time readers will remember it was eventually replaced by an ancient Zenith model, one that I claimed still featured Chet Huntley doing the evening news.
But I left Chet and the two-ton Zenith behind when I moved to Fayette and figured buying a new Sanyo, complete with remote control, should cover my television needs for, oh, 20 years, at least. After all, the owner’s manual stated that I had “made an excellent choice for Performance, Styling, Reliability and Value.” Yes, I actually kept the owner’s manual. Then, some bozo had to go and invent digital television.
So much for value, as my television would soon be rendered useless, unless I took action. That hardly seems fair. After all, it is much newer than my car, computer, microwave oven, vacuum cleaner, toaster and just about every other energy-eating contraption I have. Why does it have to be “fixed”?
Of course, if I had cable television service or a satellite receiver, I wouldn’t have this problem. There’s that lack of technology biting me in the rear again. Instead, unless I was willing to dispose of a perfectly operating four-year-old television, I would have to buy something called a “DTV Digital to Analog Converter.” This little jewel was supposed to convert the new digital television signals into old-fashioned analog signals my television would understand.
Those of you in the same boat as me know how this drill goes. Order a discount coupon from the government to save $40 on the converter, watch the expiration date on the coupon come and go without being able to find a converter for sale anywhere, then beg a friend with cable or a dish to order a coupon in their name so you can try again.
The second time around, not only did I find a converter, I even managed to get it hooked up without too much trouble. At the time, only three stations were broadcasting in digital so I disconnected the converter and waited for the big switch.
As I’m sure you know, many stations switched to digital broadcasting only last week, even though the official date was delayed until June. Suddenly, I was only receiving six channels instead of about a dozen. I re-hooked up the converter and found that I couldn’t receive any digital channels.
Now I’m told I also need a fancier antenna, most likely an outdoor one, in addition to the converter because the converter requires stronger signals than my set-top antenna can pull in. It’s made by RCA, it’s even still in warranty, but in today’s world, it’s not good enough.
Now I have to make another decision. Should I buy an outdoor antenna? Or a dish? Or switch to cable? Or buy a digital-ready television which eliminates the need for the converter I already own, but still would need a bigger antenna, dish or cable.
I have almost four months before all my currently available stations disappear, but the selection is already a little thin. Both PBS stations are gone, so no “Antiques Roadshow,” no “Austin City Limits,” even no more of those nature shows featuring bears of all colors.
Instead, I have one Toledo outlet each from ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX, plus two Christian stations, one from Toledo and one from Angola, Indiana. The Toledo station shows several old network shows like “Little House on the Prairie,” “I Spy” and as many as four episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show” on weekdays.
It’s actually kind of fun watching the activities of the citizens of Mayberry in glorious black and white. It reminds me of when I was young, the television only received a few stations and “Andy Griffith” repeats seemed to be on all the time. I keep expecting Chet Huntley to break in with a news bulletin.
In fact, I think those repeats have inspired me to solve my television situation. I just need to figure out “What would Barney Fife do?”