As most people know, the deadline for the conversion of Analog Television transmission has been extended to June 12, 2009. As it happened before the last deadline, this date is now rapidly approaching and once TV goes digital, unless you have cable, satellite or a digital converter box, your old analog TV set will stop working.
So, I have put together the ten of the most important things you need to know about DTV, so you won’t be left out in the cold without a TV picture.
If you don’t have a cable or satellite TV provider, you will absolutely need to have a Digital Converter Box. This little box will pull in the digital transmission signal and convert it so that you can watch it on an analog TV set. If you don’t know what an analog TV set is, then you probably have one. These sets have a picture tube inside which makes the TV very deep from the front of the screen to the back of the set. So even a small 13″ screen size analog TV can be about 16″ deep. Digital TV’s are about 2″ – 3″ deep in comparison.
If you have a satellite TV provider you will not need a Digital Converter Box. This is true and false. As long as you have a satellite receiver hooked up to you analog TV, you will get the signal because the receiver will convert it. However, if you have extra TV’s in the house with no receivers, you will either need to get another satellite receiver for that TV or you will need to get a digital converter box. Some satellite companies will limit the number of receivers you are allowed to have, so you may need the digital converter boxes for the TV’s you have over and above the allowed number of receivers.
You will need an antenna to run to the digital convert box in order to get a signal. You will need to have an antenna that picks up both UHF and VHF signals, since stations will be broadcasting on both frequencies. So, this means, you will need both the rabbit ears and the loop or bowtie type antennas if you are using an indoor or set mounted antenna. You may also use and outdoor or attic mount antenna and you can even make your own digital reception antenna but going onto one of the video websites and following the instructions. I actually made one out of a piece of wood and coat hangers and it works great. In your internet browser, type in “how to make a digital TV antenna” and you will find the video you need. Of course, many companies are selling antennas for this purpose, but first check to see if you existing antenna will work and if you do need to buy an antenna, be sure to check out some websites for comments by users on how well they work.
You can receive an HDTV signal over the air with DTV. Yes, it is true and it works great, depending of course on the antenna and the antenna location and that you have an HDTV set. We talked about the antenna above, but before I go any further, you need to know that if you are using any type of indoor antenna, location may be critical to getting the best signal and the most stations. You will need to experiment with that. Getting back to the HDTV signal, if you have an older HDTV that is digital ready that means you will need a digital converter box, to receive the signal. However, if you have an HDTV with the built in digital tuner, you will not need the converter box. This means that you can hook the antenna directly to the TV and you will pick up the digital broadcast and you will receive the high definition signal from any station that is broadcasting it.
Because the FCC has made it a requirement, you will receive Closed Captioning on the digital TV converter box which will display on analog TVs.
Your new digital converter boxes will come with a remote control. This remote control with have special menu features that will let you scroll though programs showing the times they will be on and it will act as your own personal TV guide. Since you will be receiving multiple channels, this is a real handy feature that works in a similar way as a cable or satellite TV menu guide. One of the most important features the remote will have is a Channel Scan. This means that the converter box, when hooked up to an antenna, will scan your area for all the digital broadcasting stations available. You may receive signals from stations from as far away a 60 miles depending on the terrain of the land, buildings and other obstacles etc. Once the box receives the signals, it will remember the stations. You will need to run the scan periodically as more stations are added or when stations change channel locations.
As already mentioned, you will receive more stations then before and another reason for this is because some stations that you received in the past may have one or two additional sub-channels. So for example you may have a channel 5, 5.1 and 5.2 all broadcasting different programming. Plus, as already mentioned you will pick up stations from other cities that you did not get before as long as they are in the range of your antenna and depending on the terrain.
Connecting the converter box, antenna and TV is easy. First unplug your TV from the wall, and disconnect the antenna wire from the back of the set. Next you will take the coaxial cable (Supplied with the box) and connect to the back of the converter box that says “Out” or “Out to TV”. Connect the other end of this cable to the “Antenna In” on the TV set. Connect the coaxial wire coming from your antenna to the “Antenna In” on the converter box. If you have a twin lead antenna, you will simply need a “Twin Lead Adapter”, that may come supplied with the converter box, or that you can get at any home improvement store. Once you have made all of these connections, you will be able to turn on the converter box and TV set and run the channel scan mentioned above, from your remote control to pick up stations in your area.
Although you don’t need a converter box to be able to watch pre-recorded video tapes from your VCR, you will need a converter box if you want to record new shows onto the VCR. You will simply connect the VCR to the converter box bringing the signal from the box into the VCR and then outputting the VCR to the TV for viewing. So, instead of the signal coming directly from your antenna, which would be the way you have it hooked up now, it would come from the converter box instead. The connections are basically the same. If you have a DVD player, then you would hook that up directly to the TV for viewing. You can also buy a simple “A/B” switcher from your local home improvement store or electronic store, which will allow you to switch back and forth from the converter box to the DVD player by simply pressing a button.
Government Coupons are available to help offset the cost of the converter boxes. These coupons are valued at $40.00 and each household is allowed two coupons. The coupons are available until July 31, 2009 and will be valid for 90 days. You will need the coupons to present at the place you purchase the converter boxes, so you will have to get them prior to your purchase. Plus, the store must participate in the program, so make sure you check in advance prior to your purchase. The coupons can be obtained by going to the government website, www.dtv2009.gov or by calling 1-888-388-2009 (voice) or 1-877-530-2634 (TTY). Most converter boxes cost between $40.00 and $70.00, so this is a very generous savings. You can also go to this site or call these numbers for general questions or information pertaining to Digital Television Transmission.
Hopefully, the Digital TV Conversion doesn’t sound as scary now that you know a little bit more about it. Actually, what you will find is, you will get more channels, have an easy to use channel guide and menu, better reception and picture quality and you will even be able to get free HDTV without the need of cable or satellite TV providers. For just the small cost of the converter boxes and possibly an antenna, all the broadcasting is free. Now you can’t beat that.