By Joel Craig, NEWS 9 Contributor
In less than two years, the way millions of us watch t-v is going to change.
On Feb. 17, 2009 all broadcasters will have to begin sending their signals out digitally, a signal most of today's TVs can't receive.
If you get your picture through a cable or satellite provider, you won't have to do anything to keep getting a picture on your screen after that date. But if you get your picture the old fashion way with either an antenna or rabbit ears you'll need a converter box.
That's not a bad thing. You'll be able to pull in more than a dozen free additional channels in HD.
Look at the local PBS station in Oklahoma City. Along with the old Channel 13 they also are broadcasting digital channels 13-1, 13-2, 13-3, 13-4, and 13-5. These extra channels have different programs accessible right now if you have a HDTV receiver either built into your TV or through a set top box.
Having a "flat panel TV" doesn't mean you have a HDTV receiver built-in. The government didn't mandate manufacturers to include the digital tuner in all new TVs until early 2007.
So unless you can change the channel on the TV for regular broadcast and see the station number followed by a "dash something" you're not watching, and probably not capable of, watching HDTV.
A converter box hooks up easily to where your antenna is currently connected or to the audio/video inputs, either the older kind known as composite video, or if your TV has it, the "S-video" inputs.
The connection is simple and you can do it yourself. Plug the cables from the output of the converter box to the input of the TV. Out of the box in to the TV. No matter what method you use to connect - it is out of the device sending a signal in to the device getting the signal.
By the way, that HD signal is more than 3 times better than today's regular TV.