Digital isn’t always better.

When I was a kid we only had about 12 television channels – all analog via antenna. We lived outside of Niagara Falls so we mostly got Buffalo stations, along with a couple of Toronto stations.

When we wanted to see what was on we often just flicked from station to station as fast as we could. We often watched two or more shows at the same time by flicking between them; the channel change was immediate.

When I got married and bought a house we got cable. We had about 60 channels then. The channels still changed almost as fast.

Now we have digital cable. Almost 1000 channels. The picture quality is about the same as it was thirty or forty years ago with the antenna.But there is one really bothersome problem.

It takes up to 10 seconds to change the channel. It simply isn’t possible to rapidly switch from channel to channel. It’s more switch and wait. And unlike the old analog days, there are often times where the digital signal does not decode properly, making it unwatchable.

Digital signals take up a lot less frequency than analog, and that means that cable companies can squeeze a lot more into the same space. But that isn’t always an improvement for the viewer.

And besides, the quality of television programming really hasn’t improved in all these years.


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