This may be new to you or you may already be tired of hearing about it, but over the next year many people will be telling you that your TV may soon be obsolete. Here’s the scoop:
The United States has been in a transition from broadcasting the (old) analog of television signal to a new digital format. At this time, all stations must broadcast both signals. On February 17, 2009, the analog signals will cease and only digital signals will continue. What does this mean?
If you have a digital TV you will be fine.
If you have an analog TV and use cable or satellite, you will be fine.
If you have an analog TV and use an antenna, you will not be able to watch TV.
Q: “How do you know if you have an analog TV or digital TV?”
A: One option is to look at your channel numbers. Analog TV uses whole numbers, such as 3, 8, and 41. Digital TV channels have decimal points, such as 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, and 8.1. (An older TV is most assuredly analog, but a flat screen TV is not necessarily digital, so check the manual: a digital TV should indicate it is digital.)
Q: “If I have an analog TV and use an antenna, what should I do?”
A: You have two options: 1) Buy a cool, new digital TV, or 2) Buy an inexpensive digital to analog converter. The converters cost about $60 and are available at Best Buy, Radio Shack, Wal-Mart, and Circuit City, among others. First, however, go to www.dtv2009.gov and request a coupon for $40 towards the purchase of your converter.
Digital TV offers better picture quality, additional features, and more channels — since each station can broadcast multiple channels on one frequency. A converter box, will not improve picture quality, but will provide additional features and more channels.
Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.