As most of us already know, come February 17, 2009, our old televisions, the ones that have outlived the family dog, four years of college dorm living, and a few failed marriages, is going to go the way of the dinosaur, the dodo bird, and the eight track. On February 18, 2009, millions of televisions will sit on the curb, along with that Uncle who just won’t get off your couch and get a job, and wait for that inevitable trip to TV Land Heaven. Will your television be one of them?
Before you pull the plug on that trusty TV, let’s explore if it is truly necessary.
The truth is most Americans are not tech savvy.
They don’t know A/V cords from Ethernet cords, can’t set the time on the microwave, and still have their TiVo sitting in a dusty box waiting for their four year old nephew to come over and hook it up.
So, when they see that little ad scroll across the bottom of the screen telling them that their television is going to be worthless, they believe it. You’ll find these same people wandering through places like Best Buy wondering how they are going to afford that 1100 dollar television next year in time for American Idol and the NBA playoffs. You’ll recognize them by their shambling walk, the twitch in their eye as they count how many bologna sandwiches they’ll have eat for a year, and that nervous look of apprehension as a sales representative draws near. Now before you become one of these TV living dead, before you start looking at your television with shame and longing, let’s get some facts first.
FACT ONE: (This is the most important fact)
If you don’t use an antenna to get reception, you don’t have to worry.
Your cable and satellite converter already accepts digital signals. If it doesn’t (or if you want reassurance), call your cable/satellite provider and make sure. The only people who are affected by this loss of signal are those who still use an antenna to get reception for their television.
If you have recently bought a television lately or are going to buy a television, it already has a digital converter inside.
Most of us believe that we will have to shell out thousands of dollars on a flat panel, plasma HDTV, but the truth is that all new televisions on the market come with a digital and analog converter already. There is a lot of confusion out there and most of it comes from the term” High Definition Television” or HDTV. All HDTV does is bring remarkable picture quality with a better pixel rate and a bunch of other goodies. But, your television does not have to be a HDTV to get reception come February. All your TV needs is a digital converter to receive a signal.
If you want to keep your current TV and you have an antenna, then you are the one who needs a digital converter. The government will give you a forty dollar voucher for this purchase.
I have to state this again, if you have an analog television and you use an antenna, then YOU, and YOU ALONE, need a digital converter.
Come February 17, 2009, all stations will stop analog broadcast and switch to digital. The reason this is happening (at least the official reason) is that the old analog band will be used to help free up transmissions for emergency broadcasters like police and fire departments. It will also allow the auctioning off of other spectrums to companies like ATT to increase wireless broadband technology for faster wireless use.
The other benefit to all television going digital is twofold. One, there will be no more fuzzy pictures. Either your television gets the entire signal, or none of the signal. The age of comprising on ghostlike phantoms during the NFL football season is over. The other benefit is that there will be more programming available to those who still don’t want to pay for 400 channels. Any station now can multicast its shows on multiple networks, so instead of just channel 9, there could be 9.1, 9.2, 9.3, etc.
Unfortunately, I am one of those people who refuses to pay for my television. The shows I watch exist in the realm of national broadcasts, so I don’t feel the need to pay for a bunch of channels I might or might not watch. The need to make sure my precious analog television continues to bring me quality programs like Deal Or No Deal and Judge Judy is important to me.
The great news is that the government is giving forty dollar vouchers towards the purchase of a digital converter. Most converters are starting at around sixty dollars, but as the date draws closer and more manufacturers produce more converters, the price is expected to fall below the voucher value. So, the good news is that most of us who continue to live in the Rabbit Ear Age don’t have to shell out big bucks to keep our televisions.
All you have to do is go to www.dtv2009.gov and get our voucher. It looks similar to a credit card and can be redeemed at most stores. There are a few things to know, though. There are only two vouchers allowed per household and once you order your voucher, you have only ninety days to redeem it. So if you want to wait until those digital converter prices drop, you might want to wait to get your voucher.
But those who don’t want to wait; there is already a wonderful world of digital television already out there. You don’t have to wait until 2009 to start receiving a signal as a lot of stations already are transmitting in digital.
So come February 18, don’t be afraid to scoop up those televisions sitting outside on the curb lonely. But please, it is time to throw away that eight track player and buy yourself and I-Pod.
Oh, and for more information, visit www.dtv.gov .