By now you have probably heard about the digital tv switchover deadline in February of 2009. In case you haven’t, head on over to http://www.dtv.gov/ to get the long story. The short story is that analog TV signals will be turned off as of February 17, 2009. If you get your TV using an antenna, then there is something you need to do to get ready. You can either buy a new TV with an ATSC tuner in it already or you can purchase a government subsidized digital to analog converter box. To get your $40 coupon head over to https://www.dtv2009.gov/.
Last friday I received my coupon in the mail. The coupon comes in the form of a prepaid credit card and you can use it at any store that sells approved converter boxes. I took mine over to Best Buy and picked up their Insignia branded converter box. This box is fairly basic providing one digital input, one RF output and a composite video output but the box is proving to be quite up to the task. The composite output allows you to get stereo sound (surround sound in fact) from the device and an improved picture over the RF connection. It also offers just the current program and the next program on it’s very simple program guide.
Now you might be thinking there is nothing wrong with the current system and that just couldn’t be further from the truth. Even though your old analog TV isn’t digital, the picture will be virtually perfect and in some cases better than you’d get if you had dish or cable. Audio too will be improved and if you have a surround sound system then any show that uses surround sound will be available to you in surround sound as well.
While the analog to digital switch over is a bit of a hassle the quality improvement is very much worth it. If you have any old TVs that are still in good shape and you don’t want to buy a new one then I strongly recommend going the converter route.