Do you need a DTV converter box? My mother’s friend is not great with electronics, but darned if she didn’t learn to program her VCRs. In fact, she has two VCRs. She connects both VCRs and both TVs to a rooftop antenna, being the practical, frugal gal she is. Often, she uses both VCR’s at the same time to record TV shows on two different channels. She may even watch a third program on her TV too. And if she has a friend over, they may be watching a fourth program on the TV in the other room. For my mother’s friend, she will need a total of 4DTV converter boxes. One for each TV or component that uses an antenna and changes channels. (If she had cable or satellite TV, she would not however have the problem and it may be time to recommend a couple of cable boxes with built-in DVRs). She will only be able to request two $40 coupons to purchase converter boxes. The other two boxes, she’ll have to pay full retail for.
Here’s what’s going on…
You may be seeing commercials about the DTV transition in 2009. To take the sting out of your having to buy a device so your analog equipment will continue to receive TV broadcasts over antenna after the transition on Feb 17, 2009, the government is issuing $40 coupons (up to 2 per household) that you can redeem when purchasing a DTV converter box at your local electronics retailer. DTV converter box coupons are now available by request at the government’s website. You may have to wait to receive them, but you want to get your request in. Okay, what does this mean? And do YOU need a coupon, or two, or how many conveter boxes do you need.
If you get your programming by antenna for any component in your home (you don’t have cable or satellite), and it’s not an HDTV or a new DVD recorder (2007), you will probably need a converter box.
Let’s be more clear. If you use an antenna –rooftop or rabbit ears– and you change channels on a device– whether it’s changing channels on a TV or a VCR or a DVD-recorder–you will need a converter box for EACH device on which you change channels.
You see, a component or TV uses a tuner to change the channels. The analog TV broadcasts we’ve been watching all these years use the NTSC analog broadcast standard. The components use analog tuners receiving those channels to tune in to (or change) different channels.
But now everything is becoming digital. The TV broadcasts will be sent digitally, received by your antenna and it will need an ATSC digitaltuner that can convert the signals to be shown on your analog TV (or digital TV without a built in tuner–like a monitor or an older model “HDTV ready” TV).
I’ll keep writing about it. If you have questions, check out the gov website, post a question or click on “ask the guru” on my home-electronics survival website.