Prepare for digital TV

Thursday, May 29th 2008, 7:39 pm
By: News 9

By Joel Craig, NEWS 9 Contributor

In case you haven't been paying attention, TV goes all digital in February 2009; that's less than a year away.

There are some things you'll want to do to get ready for the change.

To continue to use your current non-digital television for over the air reception you'll need a digital converter box.

If you haven't applied for the $40 coupons being issued by the government go to or call 1-888-DTV-2009 to apply for up to two free coupons. With the coupons you'll only have to pay $10 plus tax for a $50 box. Don't wait, the supply of coupons is limited and you don't want to be left out.

For those of you who've already received their coupons, don't go throwing $80 out the window. The first round of coupons is expiring now. The coupons are only good for 3 months. Once they've expired, the coupons are worthless and, no, the government isn't going to give you new ones.

If you're someone who thinks the price of the converter boxes is going to come down and you're waiting to see if you can get it basically for free with the coupon, I wouldn't do that. Retailers aren't making much profit selling the boxes, so unless they want to take a loss there isn't much room to lower the price.

One other thing you need to know is that the new digital signal doesn't travel as far as the old analog one we've used for 60 years. If you have plain old rabbit ears you may need an amplified indoor antenna. If you have an amplified indoor antenna you might now need an outdoor antenna. If you were using an outdoor antenna, you may have to put an amplifier on it or if you are in what was considered fringe area reception - you got a picture but not a great one - you could be out of luck. Don't be surprised and don't think the converter box is broken. This is a side effect of digital. Either all the information is there or there's no picture. No snow, no ghosts, no fuzzies - just no picture. Be prepared to buy a better antenna.