Thursday, February 9, 2012

When Progress Isn't

They told us the shift from analog to digital would make things better. I'm not so sure.

Like digital television, done under a government mandate. I understand the advantages, things like bandwidth and the ability to make more channels available — at the cost of moving the low-numbered channels up into the UHF realm. And the additional channels are a good thing. But, speaking as a consumer, this has been a definite downgrade. With analog TV, I got movies from Mexico City on my TV in Tucson. Not all the time, but relatively frequently. The signal quality wasn't the best — we got significant "snow" in the picture and "hiss" in the sound, but we got both. And where I live now, we would sometimes lose a few pixels from the area stations, but the programs continued. But now, with digital TV, the picture frequently freezes (and the sound drops out) with distressing regularity, and we lose 15-30 seconds of program each time. I'm not sure this is an improvement.

Like video recorders, too. With the VCRs, the biggest problem was that I'd screw up in programming the recording. And, once in a long while, the VCRs would eat a tape. Still, that's a lot more reliable than the DVD recorders have proven to be. Their usual trick is to suddenly make the current rewritable DVD no longer recordable. I'm not sure this is an improvement.

Yes, the older technologies had their limitations, but it sure seems they were more reliable than their newer cousins.

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