First the deadline was February and then June. Both have come and gone and the new digital TV transmission is here. The mandated switch from analog to digital signal transmission has taken place with most TV stations. If you have an old analog (Picture Tube) type TV, you probably have no picture anymore if you have not taken the steps to purchase and install a Digital to Analog converter box.
5.7% or about 65 million homes are not ready and this is a staggering number. Fortunately most TV stations have phone numbers you can call as well as contact information posted on their websites, where you can get help. Plus, as long as you have access to a computer, there are several sites out there that will help you with every aspect of making a smooth transition and entering into the DTV world.
The concept of how this works, is basically easy. It used to be that you had an antenna, either outside of your home or inside you home, and the old analog TV transmission signal would get picked up by your antenna and then you had a coax (RF) cable running from your antenna to the back of your TV set. You turned on your TV and you could change the channels to pick up stations in your area.
With the change, the analog signals are no longer being transmitted and instead digital signals are being transmitted. Since an analog TV set cannot pick up digital signals, you need a converter box that will pick up the digital signals and convert them to analog signals that will then work with your existing TV.
The connection is pretty simple. The wire from your antenna that used to be hooked up to your TV, will now connect to RF In on the new converter box and you would then connect a separate coax cable from the RF out on the converter box to the connection on the back of you TV where the antenna wire used to be connected.
Once that is done, you will need to turn on both your TV and the converter box and set your TV to channel 2 or 3 according to the instructions that come with you converter box. You will then use the remote control for the new convert box to scan for channels in your area. Once the scan is complete, all the stations will be picked up and ready for viewing.
Here are the really good advantages you will get. For one, much better picture quality. Snow will be a thing of the past. You will also get more stations, since you will pick up stations from surrounding cities up to 50 miles away. Some stations will have sub-stations such as channel 5, 5.1, 5.2 etc. You will also get a remote control that will give you access to a menu and a channel guide. You will be able to find out what shows are playing on the different channels and what times these shows are scheduled.
You can block out channels you don’t want, and customize them for your personal viewing choices. So, with all these advantages, once you get used to the way it works, like anything else, in time you will really appreciate the way you will be able to watch TV.
Now, about the converter boxes. They are available at just about any discount store or electronic store and you can get them online as well. You will need a separate converter box for each TV in your home. The cost ranges from about $40.00 to $60.00 and the government is giving away discount coupons worth $40.00 until July 31, 2009. There is a two coupon limit per household.
So, even though you will have to buy these boxes, you will still be getting free over the air TV. Even if you have 5 TV sets in your home, for about the cost of one month of cable or satellite service, you will have your boxes paid for, and your TV service is free from then on. Now that is a great deal!
As far as the antenna is concerned, in most cases you will be able to use your existing antenna as long as it has both the VHF and UHF hookup since the new digital stations will be broadcast on station in the lower and upper channel range.
You can also purchase digital TV antennas from your local electronics stores or online. You can even make your own antenna. There are several videos available online that will show you how to do this as well. To find out if they would work, I made one myself, using a piece of wood, some coat hangers and a 300 Ohm to 75 Ohm transformer adapter. Much to my surprise, it actually works.
I think that that best antenna would be an outside antenna because it would bring in the best signal and probably be able to pick up the most stations, but it is not necessary.
Please note, that if you have cable or satellite TV, you will not need a converter box, and you will still get the same stations that you got before the change. If you have any questions you can always call your provider and they will be happy to help you out.
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