Digital Transition Test: Pass-Fail-Who The Heck Knows?

imageMy living room TV passed — and failed — a five-minute test of the Feb. 17 transition to digital television. The exercise on local TV stations across the U.S. was conducted in my area tonight (the tests are being done on different days) to let consumers see if they need converters for the February switch from analog or if their converters worked. All of our sets are connected to digital sources. The Samsung in the living room was set up for digital out of the box and is connected to DirecTV (NYSE: DTV) and Charter (NSDQ: CHTR) Cable. At 6:25 p.m. central, while we watched on DirecTV, NBC affiliate KSDK warned that the test was starting: if we could see the anchors after the warning sign, we were ok. So far so good. Then we switched to PBS affiliate KETC. Not so good. Instead of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, we saw the digital TV equivalent of the blue screen of death and a warning that satellite or cable subscribers seeing the screen should call their providers. (We didn’t have a chance to check the other stations or Charter.) End result: who the heck knows.

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