Digital TV in Milwaukee

About two weeks ago, my mother-in-law called on a Saturday morning to ask if I could go television shopping with her. The TV that she had purchased in 1985 was only showing shades of green and purple and she needed to replace it. She wanted me to come along because her hearing isn’t as good as it used to be and she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to hear the salespeople explain the options of the different TVs. We looked over all the different models at Best Buy and picked out a nice 22″ Samsung LCD TV. The kids and I went over to her condo and helped set it up. She doesn’t have cable or satellite, so I hooked the TV to the roof antenna and she was able to get all channels she got before… which wasn’t many. Everything was good… or so I thought.

A couple of days later, Milwaukee television stations performed a digital test and turned off all of there analog signals. My mother-in-law called to say that her new TV wasn’t able to get any of the digital channels and asked if I could help. Because we have satellite, I didn’t know anything about how over-the-air digital TV was supposed to work. I did some research and found help at the Milwaukee HDTV website. All of the local Milwaukee television stations are currently broadcasting digital signals (Who knew?). I should have been able to find them when I set up her TV initially but the TV wasn’t detecting them. I suspected that the roof antenna associated with the condo she lives in wasn’t picking up the digital signals. I learned that in most cases, it is best to get a new antenna created to work with digital.

Last Saturday, armed with a new antenna, I went back to visit my mother-in-law. I was able to verify that the roof antenna was the issue. We hooked up her new digital antenna and re-ran the channel setup feature on the TV. She now has 22 channels from which to choose. MPTV channel 36 has seven different varieties itself. As an added benefit, all of the channels come in much better than they ever have in her condo. The only channel we couldn’t get a strong enough signal for was MPTV channel 10. Maybe they were having signal issues that day. I’m glad we got everything resolved and I learned something about over-the-air digital TV in the process.

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Update 10/30/2008 – I’ve been seeing a lot of commercials lately indicating that you may need to upgrade your antenna when converting to over-the-air digital television. They suggest going to AntennaWeb.org for assistance on choosing the correct antenna. I looked at the site briefly and it would have been helpful to me when I was looking for a new antenna last month.

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