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What exactly is an ATSC/NTSC/Clear Qam tuner?

parrottm 13 May 6, 2008 at 08:53 AM
I am looking to finally break down and get rid of my 27" x 27" x 27" JVC Tv and buy an new LCD TV or Plasma. I have been noticing a lot of talk about what type of tuner is included in the TV. I currently pay a boat load for Satellite TV and have the option to upgrade and get HD channels thru my Satellite provider. However I am wondering if some one could please explain to me how these tuners work and what there purpose is. I have been doing some research but have yet to find a clear definition. I would like to be able to cancel my satellite service, since we watch about 4 of the 9910 channels, and possibly pick up random HD channels for free with these built in tuners if that is possible. Are there extra attenas I would need to purchase, just looking to figure out how the whole thing works. Any explanation or website or previous post that I missed by not searching correctly would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
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#2
NTSC is the American standard for analog television, otherwise known as 480i.

It is composed of 525 lines, 486 of which make up the picture. The rest are reserved for closed captioning and sync data. It runs at 29.97 fps.

ATSC is the new digital standard taking place in North America that encompasses a digital form of NTSC video (480i) as well as other forms of video (720p, 1080i, etc).

QAM is a modulation scheme that allows the TV to access and display unscrambled digital cable TV without using the cable box.

You will need an Antenna of some sort in order to pick up the channels. I don't know much about antennas. Most research I did on the subject was confusing and recommendations were bizarre, always recommending that I mount an antenna at the top of the house or erect a 2 story antenna.
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#3
NTSC tuners are the older kind (analog) which pick up over the air channels up until Feb. 17 2009, and after then you will need to buy a converter box because all broadcasting is going digital.

Something to note since you're shopping for a TV:
Quote from wikipedia :
The FCC has issued the following mandates for devices entering the US
* By July 1, 2005 all televisions with screen sizes over 36" must include a built-in ATSC DTV tuner

* By March 1, 2006 all televisions with screen sizes over 25" must include a built-in ATSC DTV tuner

* By March 1, 2007 all televisions regardless of screen size, and all interface devices which include a tuner (VCR, DVD player/recorder, DVR) must include a built-in ATSC DTV tuner.

It should be noted that devices manufactured before these dates can still be sold without a built-in ATSC DTV tuner.
an ATSC receiver allows you to pick up over the air digitally broadcasted channels including over the air HD channels.

a QAM tuner allows TVs that have them to receive some cable channels without the use of a cable box.
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#4
They are three different types of tuners. NTSC is what we've all used for the past 40 years to get OTA programming, and what we use with old school cable boxes and VCRs that force us to tune our TVs to channel 3 (or 4). ATSC is used to tune into OTA HD channels, and are typically channels like 2.1 or 2-1. QAM is what digital cable uses, so if you're in an area where cable doesn't use a cable box, you'll need a TV with a QAM tuner to get the newer digital channels.

If you use any type of cable or satellite service that includes a set top box, then it doesn't matter one iota what kinds of tuners you have. You don't even need any tuner, all you need is an input (composite, component, or hopefully, hdmi). If you want to try to get some free channels, then you need an ATSC tuner which you can plug an antenna into and try to find nearby over the air HD channels, and/or a QAM tuner to plug into your cable wire (assuming your home is wired) to get unscrambled cable channels. The NTSC tuner will be useless within a year, but I've yet to see a set include the more advanced tuners but not the older one.
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#5
NTSC TV looks rather crappy on HD. But to each his own.
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#6
Quote from shhaggy View Post :
If you use any type of cable or satellite service that includes a set top box, then it doesn't matter one iota what kinds of tuners you have. You don't even need any tuner, all you need is an input (composite, component, or hopefully, hdmi). If you want to try to get some free channels, then you need an ATSC tuner which you can plug an antenna into and try to find nearby over the air HD channels, and/or a QAM tuner to plug into your cable wire (assuming your home is wired) to get unscrambled cable channels. The NTSC tuner will be useless within a year, but I've yet to see a set include the more advanced tuners but not the older one.
That's 100% true, but I'll be honest with ya, after the writer's strike I cancelled my Time Warner completely. After that I am very glad I had a built in ATSC tuner. I can watch most of my shows on the TV OTA and the rest online on the vendors website.

BTW, I have a dinky terk antenna that just sits next to the TV. I live pretty far out there, but still manage to get every channel. Once in a while I will have to shift the antenna direction, but that's fine with me.
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#7
So it sounds like if I want to go the cheap/free rout, I definetly want an ATSC tuner and then buy an atenna to go with it. Does anyone know of a website or place where I could find what ovet the air digital channels are avaialble in my area with an ATSC tuner and atenna..
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#8
Quote from parrottm View Post :
So it sounds like if I want to go the cheap/free rout, I definetly want an ATSC tuner and then buy an atenna to go with it. Does anyone know of a website or place where I could find what ovet the air digital channels are avaialble in my area with an ATSC tuner and atenna..
http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/welcome.aspx
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