Frequently asked DTV questions

old_televisionLets keep this simple. You have questions about the DTV transition that happens this Friday, June 12, 2009 and we have the answers after the jump. See also our DTV Tips and Tricks for more help.

I have basic cable, do I need to get a converter box?

No. You get your content from the cable company, so you do not need to get a box for the June 12, 2009 switch. However, your cable company might require you to get a box shortly to receive stations the same stations. The two are not related.

I have satellite, do I need to get a converter box?

Maybe. If you still get your local channels using an antenna, you will have to get a converter box if you TV doesn’t have an ATSC tuner. Basically, if your TV is older than three or four years it probably doesn’t have an ATSC tuner. It might be best to contact your satellite company to see how much it is to add local stations to your package for simplicity.

Where can I get a converter box?

Really anywhere including drug stores like Walgreens and Rite-Aid. Most electronic stores should stock them too inlcuding Radio Shack.

Will any antenna work?

Yes. Even $10 rabbit ears can pull in DTV signals. However some new antennas are tuned to pick up the DTV stations better than others.

What antenna do you recommend?

Rooftop aerial antennas work the best, but they will cost a couple hundred thanks to the cost of installation, cabling, the rotor, and all the extras. You could be just fine with an indoor antenna too. Look for one that plugs in for power.

Why can’t I get some stations?

DTV is either on or off. In the days of analog, low-power or far away stations would show up with “snow.” DTV doesn’t have snow. It’s either there or it’s not. Sometimes the picture might flicker, but it won’t be watchable.¬†Sorry.

Is there anyway to help get these stations?

Aerial antennas can be pointed in the right direction using this website from the FCC. Indoor antennas are better tuned however by trial and error. Chances are that the antenna, when located indoors, is surrounded by interference from electrical wiring and whatnot, so just pointing the antenna in the right direction will not help. It might though. Play around with it.

If we happened to miss your question, leave it in the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer it.