The digital TV transition

February 25, 2008 8:49:31 PM PST
TV is going digital in one year! So what does the transition mean to you and your TV? On February 17th, 2009 your television could go static.

Grant Clauser from E-Gear Magazine tells us, "Analog TV as we know it, over the air, is going to be turned off."

That's right OFF ... as in no more TV for some of you since next year at this time - television stations will only broadcast a digital signal.

"The people that are going to be affected are those who receive a television signal strictly from antenna," says Clauser. So, if you watch an analog TV using rabbit ears, a countertop antenna, or a roof top antenna you need to take action.

You have three options: Buy a NEW digital TV, subscribe to cable, satellite or some other pay service, or get a digital converter box.

Grant tells us, "The digital converter box takes the new digital broadcast signal and turns it into an analog signal that your TV can understand."

The boxes cost $50-70. But the government is providing each household two coupons worth 40-dollars each.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez says, "It will enable them to go to the store an buy a converter box and that will help them immediately use their current TV."

You can apply for the coupons right now, but they're good for only 90 days.

Now, the converter boxes are about the size of a small book and setup is simple. Just unplug your antenna from the TV and plug the antenna cord into the box, then plug the box cable into your TV.

The difference is incredible.

"It's an improvement in the quality of the picture you get and it's an improvement in the overall quality of the television experience," says Clauser. But again, it's important to note that if you already subscribe to cable, satellite or another pay service you don't have to do ANYTHING. You also probably don't have to do anything if you bought your TV in 2004 or later. The best way to know is to look at the owner's manual and see if your set includes a digital tuner.

Digital TV provides a schedule guide and extra channels for free. The transition from analog TV to 100-percent digital also frees up the broadcast spectrum for other uses like more communication for emergency responders and for wireless companies.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin says, "It's going to provide new kinds of services, you know, of our wireless phones and our wireless devices."

The digital transition does NOT necessarily mean you will be getting high definition. To get HDTV you need a television that is set up for that.

Analog sets are NOT and even many digital sets are not HD.

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