Steven's Notebook

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TV’s Digital Switchover

Hey, it’s been a while since I last wrote about buying a new TV, but for some of you the time is coming soon. Or not. Most geeks — and I’d guess most readers here — already know what’s what, but look around. There are plenty of people who don’t, and those of us who understand should be helping our friends and relatives. Here’s the short version:

All full-power broadcast television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting analog signals and begin broadcasting only in digital by February 2009. Some will make the change before then.

The key there is “broadcast,” meaning over-the-air.70's TV with rabbit ears If you get your shows via Cable or Satellite dish, you’re ok — you don’t need to do anything. You probably want to start looking into your provider’s Digital service anyway; the signal is, in my experience, better.

If you’ve got an antenna on your roof, or your set looks a little like this one — rabbit ears and all — you will need to purchase something by end-of-the-year or so:

  • Purchase a subscription to cable, satellite or other pay service,
  • Buy a new, digital-ready TV set, or
  • Keep your existing analog TV and purchasing a TV converter box (sometimes called a Digital Antenna, Digital Tuner or Converter). There’s even a coupon you can get from the government to help you buy a converter if you’d like.

The point is that some people need to take action, they don’t need to buy a new television set, and we can help them figure it out so they’re not sitting on the couch in tears next February wondering why they can’t watch Days of Our Lives.

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