Digital Conversion

February 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A big change is coming to television this time, next year. By government mandate, television stations will stop sending analog signals and go totally digital which means TV's in 42-million households could go dark.Terry Linkowski gets her TV signal the old-fashioned way, with an antenna. As of February 17th of next year, if she does nothing, her TV will go black when television stations stop sending analog signals.

Terry Linkowski, analog TV owner, says "I don't believe it. You mean they won't provide any service at all?"

The TVs that will be affected by the switch to all-digital are those that need an antenna to get television signals and older TVs, even one that is HD-ready, unless it has a digital tuner.

People with an analog set like Terry have several options, all involving money.

Consumer Reports' Gerard Catapano is looking at the least expensive option, a digital converter box. It costs $50 to $70 and converts the digital signal to analog.

"The government has an assistance program to help people who need to buy a digital converter box, by offering a $40 coupon toward the purchase of the box, but it's on a first-come, first-served basis," says Catapano.

To get the converter box coupons, which became available January 1st, call 888-DTV-2009 or go to dtv.gov

Another option is to buy a new television that's able to pick up digital signals. But Catapano says be aware, "You don't need a high-definition television. What you need is a TV with a digital tuner. And you can get one of those for a few hundred bucks."

A third option is to buy a new DVR or DVD recorder with a digital tuner for around $200. You route signals from your antenna through the recorder and into your television.

For people like Terry, the fourth option is to do what she has resisted all these years, sign up for cable or satellite.


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