The HDTV Transition is coming in less than two years — on February 17, 2009. On that date local TV stations will only broadcast digital over-the-air TV signals and their analog (traditional) TV broadcast towers will be shut-down. Your TV will not be able to receive any channels, unless you've prepared it to receive the new higher quality over-the-air digital signals.
Fortunately, you may not even need to worry if you currently have all TVs hooked up to a cable or satellite TV service. The transition to digital TV only affects those people who only watch TV with the use of an antenna. It is estimated that 15 million US households fall into this category, so if this includes you, please read-on…
Now that you know about the issue, we've prepared a list five solutions to keep your TV working during and after the digital TV (DTV) transition:
1) Buy a new HDTV. Your existing antenna will likely work and you can start watching high-def programs today. Remember all over-the-air HDTV reception (that your antenna picks up) is free! Plus you'll likely get more channels than you had before.
2) Buy a new HDTV and a new antenna. If your current antenna doesn't bring in crystal clear reception, you may need to purchase a better antenna. You can use the antennaweb.org website to help you decide what antenna would be best for your home.
3) Subscribe to cable or satellite TV services. In either case you can keep your current TV whether it's an old tube TV set or a new flat screen HDTV. Old TVs will continue to work if hooked up in this fashion, but you won't be able see the dramatic picture quality improvements without upgrading to a new HDTV. In addition, you could receive more HD channels by subscribing to premium HD programming packages that digital cable or satellite services offer for an extra monthly fee.
4) Wait for converter boxes to become available, apply for a government issued ($40) coupon, purchase the box and hook it up to your TV. The cost of such a box is expected to be around $20 with the coupon or $60 as a standalone product. This converter box is only designed to convert digital to analog signals. You won't get better TV resolution, but your TV will continue to work as before. Also, remember that you'll need a converter box for every TV in your household.
5) Buy a stand-alone HDTV tuner now. These boxes are more pricey, with prices currently at $179 for a Sasmung model from Amazon.com. They will receive high-def over-the-air programming and are ideally hooked up to a HD-compatible display (A TV or monitor that doesn't have a HDTV tuner). If you don't have a new HDTV yet, you can use the analog outputs (composite or s-video) from the HDTV tuner into your existing TV. This solution effectively down-converts the signal making TV viewing possible until you're ready to purchase a HDTV.
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