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Tech Take-Apart
Digital TV Transition: Are you ready?
by kp

If you have ignored the warnings until now, you will be in for a surprise if you haven't already upgraded to digital TV. On February 17 the FCC was supposed to be going forward with the mandated transition from analog to digital, but due to recent legislation, the transition date is being pushed back to June 12th. For those of you who may be wondering how this will affect you, here are a few key points to know:

- If you have purchased a new TV since 2007, you probably already have a digital tuner installed in your set. The FCC has required that all televisions sold in the U.S. since March of 2007 must have a digital tuner. Some manufacturers still have analog tuners installed in their product, but they must disclose that a digital-to-analog converter is necessary to receive a digital signal.

- If you already have paid cable or satellite service, you won't be affected by the change as long as your service provider has analog support for local channels. Any full-power broadcast stations using public "free over-the-air" signals received via an antenna will be changing from the analog to digital format after the new June 12th deadline.

- If you have been thinking about upgrading your TV, now is the time to do so. Or, if you want to keep your old set, (and you don't have cable or satellite) you will need a converter box to continue to receive signals through an antenna. Sansonic and Digital Stream Technology each offer a box starting at $40 and up. You don't need to purchase a separate DTV or HDTV antenna with the box. Your existing analog antenna, whether it's external or "rabbit-ears" style, will plug in directly to the converter box.  

- As part of the digital TV initiative, the federal government is offering a converter box coupon for citizens to purchase the equipment. You can sign up for the TV Converter Coupon Program. Due to funding constraints, there is currently a waiting period to receive a coupon, so apply now to get on the list.

For more information, go to the FCC's Digital TV Transition website. At the time of this article, the site still shows February 17th as the conversion date, but it does offer extensive information on how to prepare for the upgrade.

Shop:
HDTVs
Sansonic FT300A Converter Box
Digital Stream Technology Digital to Analog DTV Converter Box

Reference:
CES - CEA's Shapiro Responds to House Action to Change DTV Transition Deadline to June 12, 2009
Consumer Reports - How to survive the digital TV transition
Consumer Reports - DTV Converter Box Ratings
FCC - Digital TV Transition
TV Converter Box Coupon Program

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