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What does the 2009 digital-TV switch actually mean?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 9, 2007 12:41 AM PST

This week is a two part question submitted by 2 members which
have concerns about the upcoming U.S. Government mandate of
all TV signals going digital.

I've been hearing that all TV signals will be converting to
digital in 2009. What does that mean for my TV? I have a HD
flat screen that I bought last year and will be looking to
converting my bedroom small TV to a flat screen. Can you give
me tips on what to look for so that I don't purchase a TV
that will not be able to receive a signal in 2009? Also, what
about all the rest of the people who have analog tube TVs?
Will their TV go blank in 2009? Thanks.

--Submitted by Queenie Y.

Your newsletter about 1080p got me to thinking about the
FCC's (Federal Communications Commission in the United
States) mandate for digital broadcasting. My question is:
With the FCC's mandate that everything be broadcast in
digital some time in 2009), what options are there OTHER than
having to obtain a "box" from the local cable company? In my
case that would be Comcast, and the less I have to pay them,
the better. Also, is there a downside to using a box that's
not from the cable company... I do not subscribe to any
premium channels so I have no "set top" equipment presently.
I'm already seeing channels disappear.

--Submitted by Jim W.

Answer voted most helpful by the CNET Community newsletter readers:

2009 and the DTV transition

There has been almost as much misinformation about the Digital Television (DTV) transition as there has been valid material. I can understand why so many consumers are confused. Fortunately there are reliable sources for accurate information and for both Queenie and Jim the news is good. First, the HD flat screen Queenie bought last year probably has an ATSC (Advanced Television Standards Committee) digital tuner and very likely is already capable of receiving over-the-air (OTA) HDTV broadcasts today with an antenna and possibly on cable as well. Most TV stations in the United States have been transmitting digital and HDTV signals since May, 2002. A few have been delivering DTV signals for longer than that. Second, any new television you buy in the United States since last July must be sold with an ATSC tuner; heck, you can find an inexpensive 13-inch picture tube-type TV - with ATSC and Digital Cable Ready tuners - in any big box or discount store today for around a hundred bucks. Any product in the store that still has only an analog tuner must be labeled as such by federal law. You may still find DVD recorders and VCR's (if anyone is still selling any!) with analog tuner warnings. A new 26-inch LCD widescreen HDTV might cost less than $700.00, depending on where you shop. Whatever you decide to buy, the set you get today will work now and after 2009 as well. And as you know, the sky's the limit as to how big (and pricey) the new sets can be.

Any new television set purchased today must receive and decode all available ATSC formats as well as receive today's analog Standard Definition (SD) broadcasts. Many inexpensive new TV's are also Digital Cable Ready (DCR,) which means if you are a cable TV subscriber, and your cable company provides the local HDTV channels "in the clear," that is, unencrypted, you may receive those HD channels on your DCR TV set.

We bought a $99.00 13-inch TV two weeks ago from one of the big box stores just to try one out. We were surprised that it could receive analog and digital OTA broadcasts with a standard TV antenna and when plugged into the house cable system it pulled in all the analog SD channels AND all the local HDTV digital channels. Obviously a 13-inch screen is not going to deliver HDTV. But it does deliver Digital TV, making such a purchase a valid choice for the consumer who wants a small set for a bedroom or even the kitchen. The point of this discussion is that there are plenty of HD and SD choices available for a smaller DTV receiver for a bedroom or elswhere.

As to Jim's question, if you are a cable TV or even satellite TV subscriber today, you will probably not notice the difference as February 17, 2009 comes and goes. Remember, the DTV transition involves your local TV stations, not cable or satellite providers. Almost every U.S. TV station provides an analog SD signal to the cable or satellite operator today and we most likely will keep that signal in place in one form or another as long as we perceive that there is a need. Broadcasters believe most cable and satellite providers also will continue to deliver that legacy analog signal to subscribers for the foreseeable future. It will be up to your individual provider to warn you when they plan to discontinue analog transmissions. If you are already noticing that some channels are no longer available on your analog service, it probably means your cable provider has moved them to a "digital tier," which is a more efficient use of the radio spectrum for the cable company. For you to receive these digital cable channels it means purchasing a DCR TV set or renting the cable operator's Digital Cable box until you are ready to buy a new TV set.

OTA viewers with analog-only TV sets receiving broadcasts through a TV antenna, whether indoor or outdoor, need a DTV converter box to receive digital ATSC broadcasts. Without a converter, legacy analog TV sets using ordinary antennas will receive nothing but "snow" the morning of February 18, 2009. But there is help for this group of viewers. The U.S. government has developed a voucher program that will help every qualifying consumer pay for a DTV converter to keep their analog TV sets working. The Consumer Electronics Association has published a National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) fact sheet with more information at You will be able to apply for two of these coupons or vouchers per household, worth $40.00 each toward the purchase of a converter box beginning early in 2008. The NTIA has been tracking the development of new converter boxes and the equipment should be in stores to coincide with the availability of the vouchers. Since DTV converter boxes are expected to cost somewhere between $60 - $100.00, the coupon will help pay for the box.

There are several web sites dedicated to providing as much information to the public as possible; here are a few: This is the primary consumer-oriented DTV site with facts about the DTV transition with plenty of questions and answers about what is to come. focuses on the DTV converter box coupons. is the government's Q and A site with far more information than I should try to duplicate here.

Finally, viewers everywhere in the United States by now should have seen the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) TV Public Service Announcements about DTV, directing the viewer to and other resources. The closer we get to 2009, the more of a push you will see to inform the consumer about the DTV transition. Major programs by the NTIA and NAB are on the verge of being launched and soon there will be plenty of accurate information, readily available to everyone.

Submitted by: CNET member DTVEngineer

If you have additional advice for Queenie or Jim, please click on the reply link and post away. Please be detail in your answers. Thank you!
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HD TV without a box
by ddkcmk / November 9, 2007 8:39 AM PST

I too faced that dilemma. It boils down to how many channels and programs you want to watch and ultimately how much you want to pay. Your choices are (1) over-the-air broadcast reception with an HD antenna if you live in flatland areas; google for suitable antennas. They run $50-$100. There are also free downloads that will tell you if local reception is available. (2) Purchase a TV with a cablecard slot. This may be hard to find, but your Comcast cable will give you a free card enabling you to use your cable without a box and its monthly rental fee. You'll lose the menu feature of the box with this setup. (3) If you're not wanting ALL the channels a box offers, simply consult your area listings for HD stations. Comcast cable broadcasts HD and analog on different channels simultaneously. With no box, you will have to discover the HD channel numbers yourself since Comcast can't tell you and the channels may change from time to time. Comcast has no control over the broadcast. Typically, however, the HD channel for 4 is 4-1 for example. In my area, I found that channel 9 also has two additional sub-channels not even published in the (Seattle) newspaper TV section. You can also "auto program" your set, then check each listed channel for resolution (480/720/1080, etc.)and delete those you don't want. I've not mentioned satellite since it has a "box" too.

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Dont need to buy an "HDTV" antenna
by dbucciar / November 9, 2007 11:42 PM PST
In reply to: HD TV without a box

Your current analog antenna will work just fine.

This is a myth that electronics stores are propagating to make sales.

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Truth - Analog antenna will receive Digital local station.
by rsl1 / November 19, 2007 8:36 PM PST

I will second this True statement! I work in network television and have engineered and built satellite/cable POP sites. The Analog antenna will receive Digital local station. Let the world know. In fact, if you live in the country and have weak signal you can receive digital stations clearly as the digital tuner only needs one third the signal of analog.

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digital antennas or not that is the question?
by raymondo31 / November 30, 2007 12:43 PM PST

In most reception areas your old analogue antenna will do!...... BUT if you are in a bad (ghosting) position like buildings, or (not line of site,)to the transmitters and run into a problems with lousey digital pictures, put up a digital antenna as they are tuned to the exact frequencies If still any problems try installing it in another position like slightly lower or higher on another position around the house.... BUT DONT FALL OFF THE ROOF!!! or for the small extra cost get a tv installation installer! Good luck and a happy xmas and new year to you all Regards.... Ray .( From over the seas)

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There are no digital antennas.
by Mikebiker / December 2, 2007 12:26 AM PST

All antennas are analog. Even the ones advertised as being digital are actually analog antennas. The antenna passes the modulated analog carrier signals that it receives to the tuner. The receiver decodes the modulated data and turns it into the information that is used to display a picture. It is the way the data is encoded onto the analog carrier that makes it either digital or analog.

An analog encoded signal sent to an analog tuner will output a valid picture, an analog signal sent to a digital tuner will display static. A digitally encoded signal on the analog carrier will display noise out of an analog tuner, but picture data out of a digital tuner.

A lot of analog broadcasts are done in the VHF range. Most of the digital broadcasts are in the UHF range. The 'special' digital antennas are just UHF only antennas. They are no different that UHF only antennas used to receive the analog encoded carriers.

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DTV does not equal HD TV!!!
by Nargg / November 19, 2007 5:53 AM PST
In reply to: HD TV without a box

This is getting old, even before it's a problem. Digital TV is not HD TV by definition, or usage. HD TV is only an extention (or other many ways of describing an additional service of...) of Digital TV. You do not need a "new" TV to get digital TV. Why? Because the US Government is going to give you a converter free. Granted 99.99% of those here would not need to get a converter and would opt to get a new TV, for if any other reason to view both the increadible and nice digital _and_ HD signals that already fill the air waves.

Just don't forget, HD TV is not a required part of digital TV. Standard def signals are already and will always be a part of broadcast television.

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Free converter for Digital switch??
by SheryLu / November 19, 2007 10:17 AM PST

How do I get information re: Free converter from government for Digital Switch?? See text Below.


DTV does not equal HD TV!!! - New!
by scottwilkins - 11/19/07 1:53 PM
In reply to: HD TV without a box by ddkcmk_______________________________________________________________
This is getting old, even before it's a problem. Digital TV is not HD TV by definition, or usage. HD TV is only an extention (or other many ways of describing an additional service of...) of Digital TV. You do not need a "new" TV to get digital TV. Why? Because the US Government is going to give you a converter free. Granted 99.99% of those here would not need to get a converter and would opt to get a new TV, for if any other reason to view both the increadible and nice digital _and_ HD signals that already fill the air waves.

Just don't forget, HD TV is not a required part of digital TV. Standard def signals are already and will always be a part of broadcast television.

Please respond to:

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Is Digital TV all HD?
by rsl1 / November 19, 2007 8:56 PM PST

This also a True statement! At its start, most digital broadcasts will be Standard-Def. (in ATSC - SDTV, that is 480i and HD being 720-1080 line Horz). Also; the typical sports event is broadcast maybe in HD (1080i) but there maybe only two HD-cameras used on location and the other shots are in SDTV. At present, few evens have 100% HD coverage.

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Re:Is Digital TV all HD?
by Pannylover4ever / November 20, 2007 2:13 PM PST
In reply to: Is Digital TV all HD?

I think you might be confusing what was going on 5 years ago with today. In the beginning they did mostly digital SD, however all major networks today broadcast at least one HD channel.

DTV broadcast channels have 19.4Mbps bitrate available for their channel. They can use that channel for HD or SD broadcasting. They can choose to have one HD channel only, a HD channel and one SD channel, or multiple SD channels with no HD within the 19.4Mbps bitstream on the channel.

Current Mpeg2 encoding used on all DTV broadcasts dictates that you need about 16Mbps for 1080i and 14.2Mbps for 720P HD, that leaves about 3-5Mbps for the SD channel.

Majority of HD channels are 1080i, with ABC, ESPN and Fox on 720P. ESPN chose 720P for the higher frame rate required for fast moving sports (720P/60 has 60fps while 1080i/60 is 30fps due to interlacing).

While it might be true that few have 100% native HD production, older material is up-converted by the networks to HD.

Sporting events have anywhere from 8 to 32 cameras in use at each event, all of them are HD cameras (when I worked in broadcasting with all the major networks). The only exception might be small local sports channels.

Your information might have been true 5 years ago, but it does not apply today.

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Not Free, Not Worth the Expense
by WazmoNariz / December 3, 2007 10:55 AM PST

The government is not providing the converter boxes for free, they're offering $40 rebates, two per house. A *decent* converter is currently $150, so you pay $110 per TV. *If* the price drops drastically to $40 ( and that's a big if), you'll still need to pay full freight for converter units beyond the first two.

And the assertion that 99.99 percent will choose to buy a new TV is absurd. The picture isn't *that* much better for anything smaller than 40 inches. And it's no improvement *at all* for those small under-the-counter units, den models, portables, and battery powered models.

Looks like a big hit on the consumer, and a big impact to our landfills and environment for no good reason except a one-time influx to the Treasury from auctioning the UHF spectrum to the highest bidder.

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hd tv
by pushstart_4921*59 / November 19, 2007 1:38 PM PST
In reply to: HD TV without a box

I dont what say.but i have 5 tv and that not right!

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No Need for a new TV
by telephonics / November 24, 2007 5:45 AM PST
In reply to: HD TV without a box

If you subscribe to cable or satellite TV you are already receiving some HD channels. It is only user with rabbit ears or a roof top antenna whi shall be affected by the change in Fed 2009./Don't get suckered by the advertising.

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Without a box using cable card
by jc63857 / November 30, 2007 11:22 PM PST
In reply to: HD TV without a box

It was mentioned that if you use a cable card you will lose the Guide that the Cable company provides, I bought a t.v. with t.v. guide built in works great . But you cant get payperview.

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All you will need is a digital cable converter
by ProToolsGeek / November 9, 2007 8:52 AM PST

Our local cable system is currently replacing thousands of the old analog cable converters with new digital ones. You will need one of these for each TV, and for Hi Def especially. Some cable systems have some nice cable converters with hard disk recorders built into them, and some will even record in hi def. I highly recommend not buying one of these, but rent it from the cable company because they tend to crap out after a year or so no matter who makes them.

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Digital Cable convertor w/ DVR
by cecilt22 / November 20, 2007 3:08 AM PST

Your statement that the DVR's last a year and then die is just not true. I have Toshiba's RX-TX60 DVR/TIVO. I have not had a problem with the DVR for the 4 years I have owned it. The DVR is used daily without a problem. Don't forget to mention a DVR is nothing ore than a hard drive on which your programs are recorded.

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Hard to believe but what you say "is" true.
by MissLynda / November 20, 2007 10:22 AM PST

I thought that I was the only person to have this problem but I should have known better. I have had Dish TV for four years and I have had to have my DVR replaced every year except this year. It is not because I did not have problems with the DVR, in fact I am constantly calling regarding problems with the DVR, but their stance now is that they have had so many complaints, is that they can?t keep replacing the units. The problem you see is my fault because I keep the box on all the time. Supposedly the box heats up and malfunctions when it is left on all the time, so I have to turn it off when I am not using it. Oh, by the way, I am supposed to keep track of when I want to record a program before hand and make arrangements to have the unit on when I need to record. I told the rep that I thought that was the purpose of the device, to automatically record my shows without me having to think about it or plan for it, without that function what makes it superior to a VCR? I knew that this was not at all right and that this rep obviously did not know what she was talking about, and since I was seething at this point and extremely tired, I left it and decided to call the next day. I called the first thing the next morning, was switched to the service department and the first question they asked me was did I leave the box on all the time or did I turn it off when I was not using it? I was told to enable the inactivity power off function so that the box would turn itself off automatically after a certain amount of time of no interaction with the system. I made it very clear to these people that this was just plain unacceptable and that they had to replace my malfunctioning box. The sweet young man kindly and very politely told me that it would do me no good to switch out my box because the replacement unit would do exactly the same thing if I left the system on. Of course I am in the market for a new service. I have downgraded to the basic service to pay the least amount of money until I can research and find an acceptable and superior product. No sense switching from Dish to another service to find that they are as bad or worse. I did in the heat of the moment respond to one of Direct TV?s spectacular offers only to find out when the gentleman came to install my system that they did not make it clear in their offer that their inexpensive broadband service did not include the massive broadband charges that would be paid to the phone company and that even if their system was installed it was completely worthless until I had the phone company come out and install theirs. Oh, what a wonderful world we live in. I found that out because I have turned off the TV and have taken up painting and teaching myself to play the flute.

Linda B

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dish or directv
by wally6151 / November 22, 2007 1:46 AM PST

Not that there's anything wrong with painting or playing the flute, but if you decide to watch tv again, the low cost dvr's are bad about this with Direct TV too. We've had 3 or 4 of the DVR R-10 boxes from Direct TV--the hard drive went out on the last one. Luckily we had a service agreement with them that covers the box, wiring, and antenna. If you own one of boxes, get the service agreement, it's worth it. It may also be suseptable to the always-on problem, as ours was hevily used. They finally switched us to a R-15 DVR, and the picture is clearer on this one. Dad Has had his pre-DVR Dish tuner for 5 or 6 years without trouble. The Dsl requirement may not be the same with Direct TV, but dial-up may be required. If internet is all you need, there is SKY Blue direct satalite internet, but it has it's own dish that they come out and set up for about the cost of basic cable service.

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Problem solved but why does DIsh/Direct want my TV "off"?
by MissLynda / November 22, 2007 3:01 AM PST
In reply to: dish or directv


Thank you for that information. I guess I have already corrected the situation, since I watch so little TV now it is off more than it is on. I am not even angry with Dish Network any more, in fact I think that they did me one great favor. I don?t know what the benefit is for Dish and Direct TV to have people turning off their TV?s instead of perfecting their product but it sure has been a great benefit to me. Turning on the TV was my first action when I entered my home, now my first stop is my office where I can quickly sketch out any remarkable images that I spotted on the way home or any idea that came to mind. It is not only cathartic; it is extremely relaxing and you get a tangible benefit that you can keep, throw away, gift or expand on. By the way, I am an old broad and I just got started with the process only three months ago. I know everyone says it but in this case it is true. If I can do it anyone can. I must admit that I did have a little help, okay... a lot of help from Frank Fradella?s book ?The Complete Idiot?s Guide to Drawing Basic. I am not trying to start a turn off your TV campaign and I have not stopped watching TV, it has just been placed in the back seat.

I get no compensation in any form regarding the suggestion of this book. I do personally know the author, but only through the pages of his book which teaches the basics of drawing in a manner, style and voice that worked for me. It may not work for you but nothing works for everybody.

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ON most of the time or OFF
by russ666 / November 23, 2007 12:34 AM PST

Comcast cable in our Seattle-Tacoma area recently converted their own version of DVR and menu programming to fix it so that their unit will now turn itself on for length of time needed to record a pre-programed TV show and then turn itself back off automatically. There are a couple of definite downsides to using the Comcast service however, They only support their own version of Motorola DVR box. You can't even BUY a cable card to use in any competing DVR unit. At least not from them. And of course their prices are uniformly way too high after the trial periods expire. Your anger and pique at the attitudes of cable service personel is so much wasted energy unless you convey it adequately to your Senators and Congress folk. The business model bottom line attitudes of managerial types are what got them to their overly inflated wages and positions of power, so they are unlikely to work for change or improvement without some perceived bottom-line cost-benefit ratio they can show to their own superiors. A hint: you can try writing to the president of your company. Oft times they don't know what their lackeys are doing unless a customer lets them hear about it.

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Wow, just now?
by Spockva / November 23, 2007 8:42 PM PST

I have an almost 8 year old TiVo from Phillips that I won on a giveaway from the Sci-Fi channel. I can put it in standby and it still records shows, or I can leave it on all the time (almost 8 YEARS now)! I am wondering why so many people are having trouble with their DVRs? Anyway, your cable DVR is just now being made to turn off by itself? Wow, that is kind of funny seeing as vcrs were turning themselves on and off shortly after they were invented.

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hard to belive its true, its true
by ronn deas / December 1, 2007 12:03 AM PST

Linda B- Amen to your choice not to play the dish game .I had similar problems. Alas i went back to comcast. and took up playing percussion again.

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Liberation never sounded so sweet.
by MissLynda / December 1, 2007 8:22 AM PST


We can call our band ?Detoxified Revolution.? It will not be televised.

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Misslynda..I have had dish for almost 10yrs....
by slimsss2 / December 1, 2007 12:49 AM PST

I had one recorder box go bad almost immediately when i went with the recorder service,,callled and no probs,,Hooked up the replacement and that was three years ago. On two occassions i have had a warning screen come up that says the box is over heating and needs to cool down,I have now elevated the 'box' about 2" above the TV to allow for some air to circulate and no more probs. I have only turned the 'box' off when we will be away from home and that is only every 3 months or so. Also have 3 friends on dish and they have not had any bad recievers either.
I am thinking you have encounterd some dummmies in customer service,,i would try for another replacement. My dealings with Dish have been excellent..Maybe try a supervisor for some answeres.
My only "BEEF" is haveing to purchase 250 channels to get the 10 or 12 we use on occasion...Hope customers can pick and choose a package one day...Hope this may help you.

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All boxes are not created equal
by MissLynda / December 1, 2007 8:09 AM PST


I think that maybe the boxes your provider uses are different than the one mine uses. My boxes have never given me any warnings before shutting down, breaking down or even just cutting off. My boxes have no airflow blockage and are elevated as yours, so if it is an overheating problem then the problem has to be in the box itself. I have spoken with two technicians and you are right, that was a complete waste of time. I also spoke with two supervisors before one finally was honest enough to tell me that this was a common complaint and they stopped swapping out the boxes because it did not solve the problem. He stated that the newly shipped boxes had the same problem as the ones that were taken out. He said that the tech department is looking at the boxes to see if they can find out why this continues to happen but they have not at this time been able to pinpoint the problem. So for now they are just telling the customers to turn off the boxes when they are not watching their TV and to set the auto turn off option to on. Real good solution for Dish; it saves them a lot of money and the customer? Who cares about them any way, unless they are late paying that ridiculous monthly fee for ??. for ? service?
I only wish that Dish was the only company that has this attitude. Unfortunately it is the rule rather than the exception that businesses today shout loud and clear, ?Either take it or leave it.? The global customer base has made customer service the last item on the totem pole. Their new motto is, ?Show me the money, take your complaints somewhere else and come back real soon now, you hear??

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Miss Lynda
by alldayjjay / December 21, 2007 10:04 PM PST

Don't Know much about cablebox or dish tv but I do no abit about thermodynamics and the solution to your dilemma put a fan on your unit and makesure that you leave space under for air to flow.
that might help you later alldayjjay

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Converter boxes
by bluzjamer / December 21, 2007 11:22 PM PST
In reply to: Miss Lynda

Look new TVs can receive HD without a box but cable will not let you receive these channels unless you have their converter for an additional charge. Way it is with Cox Rhode Island. They offer free digital for a year but you have to get their digital receiver which is an additional charge. To continue to use my HDMI cable I would need their DVR box ($10 more a month) which is the only one with a HDMI hookup.
This whole thing just sours my stomach, it has taken all the joy of having a new set. I just stare at my rabbit ears in disgust.
Bob M

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Charter cable tv?
by afterbase / December 3, 2007 1:44 PM PST

If you have Charter cable tv and have upgraded to the digital programming, if you buy a new digital tv as you say with the right specs, you then can receive the digital programming the same as if you have a converter box for the analog tv? And you can watch different channels on several tvs, not locked into the same channel?

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by nothankscnet / April 22, 2008 11:40 PM PDT
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Digital Signal or Analog going away
by PhilGlantz / November 9, 2007 8:52 AM PST

If you're currently bringing the cable straight into your tv you'll still be able to receive the non digital channels. Also, my understanding is that any TV manufactured after March 2007 has a digital tuner so even digital channels should show up, though not necessarily in the spot you expect them. If you're using Comcast this is already true.

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Digital conversion - easy answers...
by myoda / November 9, 2007 9:14 AM PST

Queenie Y.:
"I've been hearing that all TV signals will be converting to digital in 2009. What does that mean for my TV?"

It means that if you currently receive your television signal over the air with an antenna, and have a television that is not capable of getting those channels, you will need some kind of box that sits between your antenna and television that will convert the digital signal to an analog signal so you can continue to use your current, analog television. If you don't have a converter box, then you'll be watching snow after the analog shutoff date. Link here for more info:

There is also a program planned to provide vouchers towards the purchase of digital converter boxes:

Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program

"Can you give me tips on what to look for so that I don't purchase a TV that will not be able to receive a signal in 2009?"

A digital tv is NOT a high definition tv. An HDTV gives you a widescreen with a more lines of resolution than a digital television. Go here for a definition of definitions:

As of March 1, 2007, all television receivers shipped in interstate commerce or imported into the United States must contain a digital tuner. In addition, effective May 25, 2007, the Commission required sellers of television receiving equipment that does not include a digital tuner to disclose at the point-of-sale that such devices include only an analog tuner, and therefore will require a digital-to-analog converter box to receive over-the-air broadcast television after the transition date.

Digital signals are much stronger than analog signals, but they are directional - meaning that if you use an antenna, you have to point to get signal - but when it comes in, the reception is crystal clear, with no ghosting, multipath noise, or to put it simply, no fuzzy picture. You either get it or you don't. Check out for where to point. Old school antennas and rotors are back. Personally, I get all my tv over the air with an antenna for the tv tuner, and an antenna connected to my sony hd dvr. The picture quality is excellent.

Jim W.
"My question is: With the FCC's mandate that everything be broadcast in digital some time in 2009), what options are there OTHER than having to obtain a "box" from the local cable company? In my case that would be Comcast, and the less I have to pay them, the better.'

Your options:
Digital converter box for over the air reception
New digital television with an antenna connected
Television with a qam tuner for cable
Television with a cable card slot
Dish Network or DirecTV

"Also, is there a downside to using a box that's not from the cable company... I do not subscribe to any premium channels so I have no "set top" equipment presently. I'm already seeing channels disappear."

Downside is an unsightly box, the upside is not having to pay the cable co for a "rental fee" for the box. You can purchase a Tivo box with multiple tuners, that works with a pair of cable cards, but, you have to pay a monthly fee to Tivo. I just left Dish Network after 8 years - I did not see the value in paying 45 dollars a month just to watch The Daily Show on Comedy Central. The consumer electronics industry, and the Government need to ramp up an information campaign soon to make the public aware of the upcoming conversion to digital. Hope this helps!

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