Oh! You wanted it to work…..

One of our CET employees stopped me in the hall the other day and asked  how a certain major discount store could be selling digital TV sets that were not going to work after February 2009.  It seems she was shopping over the weekend and noticed that the TVs in question all had stickers warning of their pending obsolescence.  “I thought that the whole point of getting a digital TV was that it would work after the February 2009 analog cut off,” she said.    

Well she is right and she is wrong.  You will need a TV set with an ATSC (that is digital) TUNER to receive TV broadcasts over the air after the 2009 cut off.  It so happens that there are still digital TV sets that have analog tuners only.   For the most part these are older models that have may have been sitting around in warehouses for a couple years and it seems that some retailers are trying to unload them.    

Well. “Caveat Emptor!”  I can see no reason to buy one of these sets.  I have seen small digital TV sets with ATSC tuners at some of the big box electronic stores selling for as little as $120.  Now they are small sets with 15 – 17 inch screens.  They are not high definition and don’t have the wide screens.  They do have both analog and ATSC tuners, so they will work just fine for watching over the air broadcasts after February 2009. 

    There continues to be confusion about Digital TV and what will happen in February 2009. Here are some simple rules of thumb;

If you have cable or satellite service you need to do nothing.  Your analog TV will work with no modification.

If you watch over the air, you will need a new set with an ATSC digital tuner or use your old TV set with an inexpensive digital converter box.  These boxes will be available in early 2008 and will retail at between $50 and $70.  The government will offer each US household two coupons worth $40 each to help defray the cost of two converters.

Stay tuned here for more information.



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2 Responses to “Oh! You wanted it to work…..”

  1. John Terhar Says:

    Two things… Remember that not every analog TV station is going off the air in February of 2009. Translators and low power stations are still going to be analog until the FCC forces them to change. As bottom line broadcasters, they don’t have the financial resources or even desire to go digital.

    Second, don’t forget that those $40 coupons buy a converter box that puts out composite and S video and 2 channel stereo. If the box puts out HD or multichannel audio, of any flavor, it is excluded from the program.

  2. jdominic Says:

    Good points John, I forgot about the low power TV stations.

    As for the $40 coupons…they must be used individually, i. e. one per each set top box. You can’t use two coupons totaling $80 to buy one set top box.

    The set top converters that I have seen also modulate an output to channel 3 or 4 for older sets that might not have direct video connections.

    Thanks for the good comments!


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