With analog television signals, a weak signal means static in the picture and sound. However, with the way that digital TV signals work, you may encounter video that is pixilated or full of blocky artifacts. You may also encounter stuttering in both the audio and video. This means you may be experiencing a weak DTV signal.
Re-Scan your Channels
The setup menu available for most converter boxes has an option to “scan” for available digital channels. It’s important to remember that not all TV stations were broadcasting a full-strength digital signal if your converter box was setup prior to June 12th. You may also come across some stations broadcasting their digital signal on a different channel than analog prior to the switchover.
Doing another channel scan periodically up until June 12th, and at least once afterwards, will ensure that you have any newly available channels saved into your channel line-up under their correct numbers.
Attention to the Antenna
Many television viewers will be using the same antenna they used to receive analog television. In most cases, this is perfectly fine, as most antennas can receive a signal regardless of whether it’s digital or analog.
However, it’s important to remember that digital signals are more directional than analog, so you may need to adjust the angle of your antenna to get the best reception at a distance. Your converter box will help, as there’s an on-screen menu item in most units that will display the current signal strength of a channel as you fine-tune your adjustments.
Another consideration is the age of your antenna. Years of exposure to the elements can corrode the connectors on an outdoor or rooftop antenna. Check those metal connectors and replace them as necessary. If you have the older style “twin lead” cable running up to your antenna, you may consider replacing it with coaxial cable in order to reduce outside interference.
If your signal is still too weak to get several stations, consider a signal amplifier to boost the incoming reception.
Where Did Most of My Screen Go?
If you have an older television, you may notice black bars across the top and bottom of the video displayed on your screen after you connect the converter box. This is because the aspect ratio of some digital signals doesn’t match that of your television.
This can be fixed by going into the on-screen menu of your converter box using the remote and finding an option to change the “aspect ratio” from “16:9” (often referred to as “widescreen”) to “4:3”.
There's Always a Geek Ready to Help
Luckily, the FCC has called upon the Geek Squad to help everyone prepare for the switch on June 12. Free of charge, our home theatre installers will connect up to two of a household’s DTV converter boxes to existing broadcast antennas and analog TVs. We’ll also:
– Adjust existing antennas
– Scan and rescan converter boxes to locate the maximum digital broadcast channels available
– Integrate an existing VCR
– Provide guidance on the operation of the converter box
Customers in the following 31 states, can contact Geek Squad to find out if you qualify for free converter box installation:
Pacific: Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington
West Central: Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Northeast: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont
To request free converter box installation, call the DTV conversion hotline at 877-BBY-DTV9 (877-229-3889) 8 am – 11 pm CST daily until June 30.