Mark Schubin's memo on digital television for 12/16/2005 provided links for the FCC's report to Congress in the matter of the Satellite Home Viewer Extension And Reauthorization Act Of 2004 titled "Study of Digital Television Field Strength Standards And Testing Procedures" (pdf links: main report; comments of ABC/CBS/NBC, MSTV, ATI Technologies, CEA, DirecTV, EchoStar, NAB, Robinson Telephone, and Viamorph; Hammett & Edison for EchoStar; H&E, continued; reply comments; and reply comments of H&E).
There's much of interest here, but I'll highlight here Appendix C in the main document (begins on p. 70 of the pdf but that's labeled page C-1 in the report), "Tests of ATSC 8-VSB Reception Performance of Consumer Digital Television Receivers Available in 2005" by the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology, FCC/OET TR 05-1017. Engineers tested under both "benign" and "difficult" multipath conditions and found that (p. 117 of the pdf):
Given that both tiers of performance appeared in all three price ranges of DTV receivers, there appears to be no inherent price dependence among the DTVs; however, there was a complete absence of upper-tier performers among the tested set-top boxes. This absence is attributed to the older designs of the set-top box products—all of which were introduced in the year 2004 or earlier. Among the tested receivers, none that were introduced before March 2005 were found to exhibit upper-tier performance, whereas 48 percent of those introduced in or after that month performed at the upper tier level. [emphasis added].
The National Ass'n of Broadcasters has a nice summary of these tests in its TV TechCheck publication today. Link: NAB [pdf]. Thanks to Ralph Hogan for the link. --Dennis