Digital transition 90 days away. Are you and your family ready?

The Digital Transition is mere months away and still, many have questions and misconceptions about the February 17, 2009 switch. It can be confusing but your family is relying on you to get it right. Follow the link for some frequently asked questions and answers.

Who needs a digital converter box?

Anyone that uses an antenna to watch TV will need a converter box.

I’m on analog cable, will I need a digital converter box?

The simple answer is no. However, cable systems like Comcast are slowly switching to digital too, but that is their doing and no matter what a cable representative might say, the two are not related. If Comcast makes you get a box, and charges you extra, it’s not because of the FCC mandate.

I’m on satellite, will I need a digital converter box?

Maybe. If you still receive your local stations with an antenna, you will need a box but it might be worth your money to simply upgrade your service to receive those channels over satellite.

Where do I get one of these digital converter boxes?

Any local Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Radio Shack, and, if you still have one, Circuit City will sell a model around $59. Dish Network has a great option for $40.

What about this coupon program?

The government decided to help out the consumer and is offering up a $40 coupon to defray the cost.

Do I need a high definition TV?

No, the digital converter boxes translate the digital signal into analog for any TV to decipher.

Do I need a new antenna?

Hopefully not, but digital signals can be finicky. Analog signals can produce a picture even if the signal is weak, and while it might be poor quality, it will still show up on the TV. With digital however, the picture will not appear unless the signal is strong. Instead of snow, you might get lots of little boxes that will pop in and out while the digital converter box tries to grab the station.

What about emergency TVs?

The battery backup TV is something that most homes should have but these models will be affected by the switch too, so they will need a converter box as well. There has been at least one battery powered converter box announced, but with the switch looming, more options are sure to become available.

What does the consumer get out of this switch?

Two things. One, better picture and sound from your antenna. These digital over the air (OTA) signals will come in crystal clear and in most cases, better than cable. The sound will be better too, Plus, some digital converter boxes offer on-screen guides just like a digital cable box. Digital OTA is a great way to watch TV, but that’s not all American consumers gain out of this switch.

The US Government auctioned off the airwaves analog TV rode on to the tune of $20 billion dollars which hopefully, but probably not, equates to slightly lower taxes.