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Re: can I watch tv on 1 channel while recording another?
Unfortunately no, unless you get a second converter box. You're using the converter box to select channels, and it can only be on one channel at a time. With a second converter box, you might find you need a second antenna too (so you can get a signal on both channels). And you can't program your VCR to record on different channels (since it can't control the coverter box to change channels).
(This is a case of history repeating itself. When cable TV was new, and most TV's and VCR's weren't cable-ready, you needed to use the cable company's converter box. The same problems came up then too!)
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The answer to this question can get a little complicated. Lets tackle it in two parts. First the last part; the part about picking up channels as decimals. With analog TV transmission, it took the full television broadcast channel to transmit one standard definition TV program. The newer digital transmission system uses some advanced video compression and audio compression technology to reduce the data needed to transmit the pictures and sound which allows the same bandwidth to deliver either High Definition Television programming or MULTIPLE channels of Standard Definition programs. So in your example above, you use to watch one channel of programming on TV channel 4, but now the TV station can broadcast multiple channels of programming on channel 4, sot they delineate the programs with a decimal point. So 4.1 it the first program on TV channel 4, 4.2 it the second program on TV channel 4..... Well, I hope you get the idea.
Now for the hard part of your question. I believe that before the transition, even with your new digital TV, you were still enjoying the analog broadcasts from your stations. Your VCR picked them up and recorded them and your digital TV could tune them in and you watched as you had always done in the past. After the transition you noticed that your VCR could not record anymore and your digital TV had discovered the digital channels that replace the analog channels. To remedy this situation, your VCR will need the aid of a DTV converter box to tune channels, and you may have to reconfigure the way your TV and VCR are connected. The best resource that I can give your for the reconnecting is the website http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/converterbox_vcr.html.
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“Set-up #2: Watch One Channel while Recording a Different Channel”.
The output connection from the VCR/DVD needs to be different for the new digital TV. Instead of using the RF output from the VCR, use the video and audio outputs and connect them to the video and audio inputs on the digital TV. When you want to watch the VCR, select "video in" on the TV.
The digital converter box should be hooked to the input of the VCR so you can record programs off-air.
You have to use the RCA plugs on the back of the converter box and the tv (red,yellow and white). Or you can attach the antenna wire to box and then attach the wire that comes with the converter that is listed as to the tv and instead attach it to the antenna in on the vcr. The converter box will determine which channel your vcr will get a singal to record from. Your VCR for every program will be set to channel 3 or 4 (depending on what your converter box is set to broadcast on). Make sure the power saver on the converter box is turned off as if you want to record a program in say 4 hours, if the converter box turns off in 2, your vcr will have nothing to record.
I ran seperate coaxible cable to the tv from vcr and unplug the tv converter box everytime I want to watch the vcr. You can also use the RCA cord to send the signal from the vcr to the tv and use the input signal to watch your recorded programs. I had static showing up everytime I played it through the second converter box thus I solved it by running a seperate coax line. I don't know if you will have this problem, just wanted you to be aware.
I had a similar problem with an Insignia converter box. This is confusing but . . . I was told by an Insignia person that you can only program the channel that you have on and cannot record a different channel. My output channel is 3. My roof antenna is attached to my converter box "From Antenna" jack. Attach the converter's "To TV (RF)" jack to your VCR's "Antenna Input" jack. Attach "Antenna Output" jack to TV "Antenna Input". You will see your programs on your output channel, but if your VCR is like mine, your VCR may not recognize anything but your output channel, no matter which station is actually showing on the TV. If I want to record a show on channel 7 while I'm gone, I have to make sure the converter station is on 7 and that I choose channel 3 as my channel to record. You cannot program shows to be taped on different stations unless you physically change it on the converter box. I put my VCR on "Record" and flipped the stations from one to the next from my converter remote control and I taped exactly what was on the screen from one station to the next. You cannot tape one thing and watch another. Clear as mud??? Hopefully, not.
The only way you can tape a different show than you're watching is to do as you have done: purchase a second converter box and connect it to the VCR as you did with the TV. You can pick up a device called a splitter which will allow you to divide the antenna signal between the two boxes.
There are some problems with the splitter arrangement. If you need to adjust the antenna position to get a good signal on one channel, like the one you want to watch, that may mean it isn't in the best position for another, like the one you want to record. You might need two antennas for the best performance.
Also, you can't program recording on different channels at different times unless you'll be home to change channels on the converter box. The VCR will only find a signal on channel 3 or 4, depending on how you set up the box, and you'll always record on that channel. The TV channel you record will be chosen by the converter.
Finally, you need to connect both the VCR and the converter box to a single antenna connection on your TV. There are two ways to do this. One is to use a splitter again. Normally they are used to split a single antenna input to two ouputs, but they can also combine to inputs into one output (basically you just use it backwards). Connect the ouputs from the box and VCR to the splitter's output connectors, and then go from the splitter's input connector to the TV antenna connector. This arrangement may not give the best picture quality, though. An alternative is to use an "A/B" switch, which allows you to choose which source connects to the TV.
It sounds more complicated to hook up than it actually is. It is more complicated and less flexible to use this setup than it was before the switch to digital broadcasting, but they call this "progress."
Hope this helps. If you need more information, just post a followup comment!
Here is my setup.
1) Separate DVD player
2) Separate VCR
3) Digital to Analog Converter box
4) Analog TV
5) Rabbit ears (UHF/VHF) antenna
The antenna goes into the converter box.
The RF-output of the converter goes into the RF-Input of the VCR
The DVD output goes into the front input jacks of the VCR
The VCR RF-output goes into the TV RF-Input
The VCR Line output goes into the front of the TV
To watch DVDs, we turn on the DVD player, turn on the VCR, and set the VCR channel to L2, and tune the TV to channel 3. The converter is off.
To auto record on the VCR, the converter must be tuned to the station being recorded. The converted must be turned on, the TV can be off.
To watch VCR tapes, turn the TV and VCR on. The TV is set to channel 3. Just press play on the VCR.
To Watch TV. Turn the TV and converter on. The TV is set to channel 3. Change the stations using the converter.