Each over-the-air broadcaster is mandated by the FCC to include
within the digital stream a program guide for that specific channel.
Even though stations are required to include at least minimal EPG content, manufacturers of TV equipment
are not required to include EPG capability within components produced.
Many TV tuners are designed to display only brief information about the current channel
being watched, although the broadcaster may be streaming a greater level of content.
Some manufacturers have assumed that most program guides will be
accessed through cable or satellite, and have subsequently provided for minimal utilization
of the over-the-air EPG in some of their products.
Although local stations are required to provide program information along with their transmission,
the quality of EPG content can vary greatly. Some may provide helpful descriptions, while others
may provide only program name and time.
Although much of the 2009 digital transition entailed the distribution of standard-definition "converter boxes" in order
for owners of older analog sets to receive and convert the digital signal, there was another more
robust set-top-box tuner gaining popularity. This was a digital set-top-box receiver capable of
receiving the high-definition bit stream. These HD
receivers can be used in the same manner as the lower-cost converter boxes, but also provide
HD signals to HD-capable TVs.
These HD set-top-box tuners, such as the leading Samsung DTB-H260F, also include much more comprehensive
EPG capabilities. These receivers can scan all local channels being received through the attached antenna,
extracting the EPG data from each, and then
construct a comprehensive EPG for that particular antenna. This comprehensive EPG of all available local
channels is referred to by Samsung as the "full guide" feature.
DTBH260F HDTV Terrestrial Receiver
Another use for the
HD set-top-box tuner would be by the over-the-air viewer who wishes to receive an HD signal from a direction
differing from the position of a primary antenna. In addition to being slightly weaker than the
earlier analog signals, the digital signals are also more directional. In order to receive consistent signals from a
second TV market, a second antenna is likely to be necessary. Many televisions contain
only one tuner, which would usually be used for the primary market. The second antenna would require its own
tuner, which would then feed into one of the other TV inputs. The Samsung DTB-H260F is a robust HD receiver
with comprehensive EPG compilation, but does not contain a hard drive or DVR functionality.
Digital video recorder for over-the-air TV
A diverse array of digital video recorders has replaced the VCR of yesteryear. Subscription satellite companies
produce their own proprietary DVRs and the TiVo DVR has proven useful for cable subscribers. The old VCR function
has evolved, and the market has splintered into specialty DVR applications, all based on the internal hard
The over-the-air viewer has not been left out. Time shifting capabilities such as PAUSE and REPLAY that define
the essence of the DVR function have been included in the Magnavox H2160MW9 recorder.
This hard-drive DVR is a standard definition recorder, with the ability to pause and replay the digital
stream of live OTA TV.
It also contains a DVD recorder which is useful for transferring files from the hard drive to permanent DVD
storage. Although the Magnavox H2160MW9 includes a built-in standard-definition digital tuner, the scheduling of future
recording is time-based, similar to a VCR, rather than name-based, using titles in an EPG.
MAGNAVOX H2160MW9 HDD and DVD Recorder with Digital Tuner
With an appropriately sized antenna, boosted by a pre-amp to ensure sustained signal quality where needed, the over-the-air
viewer can complete the overall viewing experience with a hard-drive DVR, all for a total ongoing monthly fee of
as little as zero dollars!