Before you buy a digital convertor box for your TV

I posted this in another thread, but thought it deserved it’s own. I thought it might be helpful because I know I was confused about the whole convertor box thing until someone straightened me out. So I looked into it a bit more and thought I’d share my findings. :slight_smile:

I know it’s not clear from the TV ads, but you only need a convertor box if you only use an antenna to watch TV. In other words, if you have any sort of cable / dish whatsover, you do not need a convertor box. If your TV (or VCR or DVR) was made after March 2007, even if you only use an antenna, you will not need a convertor box as these new machines are equipped to receive the digital signal.

From the official FCC DTV website:

This television receiver has only an analog broadcast tuner and will require a converter box after February 17, 2009, to receive over-the-air broadcasts with an antenna because of the Nation’s transition to digital broadcasting. Analog-only TVs should continue to work as before with cable and satellite TV services, gaming consoles, VCRs, DVD players, and similar products. For more information, call the Federal Communications Commission at 1-888-225-5322 (TTY: 1-888-835-5322) or visit the Commission’s digital television website at:

Many of the ads make it seem like everyone needs to go buy this convertor box. In fact, most people probably will not need to buy one.

This ends this public service announcement. We now return to our regularly scheduled Catholic Answers Forums. :slight_smile:

Thank you for the update on the digital convertor…:slight_smile:

Thanks for the clarification. The one exception would be if you use your antenna for local stations *in addition to *the cable/satellite. My father does this – he could get the local stations through his satellite service, but he’d have to pay extra and he doesn’t want to do that. He has a splitter setup so he can watch the local stations for free via the airways, and he uses the satellite for all of the cable stations. So he’s going to need the convertor box along with his satellite stuff. But he is certainly in the minority here! :shrug:

I must be the only person in the world with two tvs, both of which are on rabbit ears. I assume this means I need two new tvs, or two converters. Will I get better reception with this new box? Hey, I bet the converter will make the cord longer between my rabbit ears and the tv. That will be great in on the downstairs tv. See, there will be some benefit after all!

I thought rabbit ears were just a myth! :wink:

I poked around the site a little more and discovered that they are offering coupons (up to two per household) to buy a convertor box. Here’s what their website says:

What is the Converter Box Coupon Program?

To help consumers with the DTV transition, the Government established the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a part of the Department of Commerce, administers this program. Every U.S. household is eligible to receive up to two coupons, worth $40 each, toward the purchase of eligible digital-to-analog converter boxes. Beginning in January of 2008, the NTIA has begun accepting applications for coupons. The coupons may only be used for eligible converter boxes sold at participating consumer electronics retailers, and the coupons must be used at the time of purchase. Manufacturers estimate that digital-to-analog converter boxes will sell from $40 to $70 each. This is a one-time cost. For more information on the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program, visit, or call 1-888-388-2009 (voice) or 1-877-530-2634 (TTY).

Thanks for the link! Looks like Best Buy is one of their participating retailers for using the coupons. I’ve got one of those nearby.

I’d tell you I’m off to look into it, but I’m a real procrastinator about shopping. I’ll probably delay as long as I think I can and still get a coupon. :blush:

We went digital. Now instead of a hundred channels with nothing to watch there are 700 with nothing to watch! :smiley:

Careful about waiting too long, there are a limited number of coupons, and when they’re out, they’re out. Once you get them, you have to use them within 90 days.

From some posts online where TV geeks compared various brands side by side, Best Buy’s Insignia model actually did come out on top.

I’ve got two analog TVs, with a big tall roof-top antenna.

Insignia. :thumbsup: I’ll check out that brand when I go shop.

No, you’re **not **the only person in the world with two TVs, both on rabbit ears – I have the same setup, so there are at least two of us in the world. :wink: Yep, two boxes, one for each TV. One of my friends already switched over, and she says that the reception is much better with the convertor box. My coupons came last week, so I’m going to go shopping soon. :slight_smile:

Oh, so there’s 3 of us! :stuck_out_tongue: Except our second TV doesn’t even have the rabbit ears… we just watch dvd’s on it. We may get a converter box for both though, since we can get two coupons. :smiley:

Ok, I took the plunge on one of our TVs and went digital. Got the Best Buy, Insignia NS-DXA1 coupon-eligible converter box.

Pretty darn good. It’s great not having any snow, or sparklies, or ghosts, or static in the picture, even on stations from the next big city 75 miles away that used to come in with lots of fuzziness in the picture. I can watch PBS again!

(I do have a rooftop beam antenna, probably 6’ long and elevated another 10’ off the top of the room, with antenna preamplifier and distribution amplifier. It’s the same antenna that I’ve had for about 18 years now since buying the house, and it was on the house before that for who knows how long. I was glad that I didn’t need a new antenna.)

One nice treat with the digital is the sub-channels. I get the usual channel 22 (for instance), then most local network channels also have a 22.2 with 24-hour weather, or another network like the CW that they own for cable but don’t have an analog broadcast channel for. The PBS station has 5 subchannels, but so far I’ve just looked at night after they’ve signed off (static picture saying, see you at 6am) so I don’t know what all’s on them.

I get Now Showing and Up Next information, capsule summary of the show, and a simple program guide (the converter remembers the Now and Next information from each channel.

The only problem so far is that the volume on the converter box isn’t loud enough. The instructions say to set the old TV at a medium volume, and control all the volume through the converter box. But, the converter doesn’t put out a loud enough audio modulation (I have to use the RF connection to the TV for this TV) for that to work; even with the converter volume at max the TV has to be higher than mid. High enough that the static noise is painfully loud if I turn off the converter first and then the TV. I have to get a second unit for the other TV, I’ll see if that has the same problem. On that TV I can try using the composite A/V plugs instead of the RF to the TV, maybe that’ll work better.

There are a few independent stations I can get on analog that aren’t doing digital yet. One is a Christian station that’s holding a golf outing soon to get some money to pay for the digital equipment upgrade. But the network stations are all there already.

All in all, I’m happy. I get more channels and much clearer pictures for only $25 one-time out of pocket.

I live near Detroit, but for some reason we don’t have any TV reception without cable or satellite (even using rabbit ears). I wonder if a converter box would solve that problem so I can get out from under the ever-escalating cable bill? I hate to spend money only to find out I still can’t get reception.

I guess I’ll apply for one coupon and see what happens.


We live in Oklahoma so keep that in mind. DH’s grandmother has gotten one of the converter boxes. Her reception is better and she gets even more channels than what she had before the box. In our experience it’s been a better move. Oh, she has no satelite or cable either.

LOL make that FOUR. Except that my big living room tv died this past year and I replaced it with a smaller Digital one.

If I buy the converter for the small dvd-tv in my bedroom will I get the extra channels? Both Channel 7 and 4 here have a channel with all weather7-3. 4-2. Seven has Retro TV 7-2) .

I also still use a vcr will that work with the box. I can’t record the digital stations SO if I do record I record the old analog ones (7-0 or 62-0)

Nah, you’re not the only one. Not only that but both of our TV’s were purchased well before 2007! Let me see, the little one is probably 10 years old and the big one has to be at least 5 years old 'cuz we had it when we moved into the house we live in right now and that was 5 years ago.

I just got my rebates/coupons in the mail today so have to go shopping for converter boxes :).

Brenda V.

Wow, I killed the thread and had to hunt it up :eek:.

Anyway, I now have my converter boxes and got a “smart antenna” to go with one that has already gotten bent due to too many cats in the house thinking htey needed to get that"ball" on the end of the antenna.

Reception for the most part is better on the one with the antenna except we end up with that digital stall thing going on. Anyone have this problem and is it because of the converter box i got? Will it get better do you think when everything goes digital?

The other box still needs to be hooked up to the antenna that is on the roof - that is my husband’s department and he is out of town for the last week and a half and won’t be back until Sunday!

So, yes, when we don’t have that digital stall (I don’t know what else to call it) the reception is 100% better! I now have three PBS channels to choose from (one ins V-Me -vay may and is Spanish dubbed shows) the other two are "regular’ and three or four of those evangelical Christian channels (:whacky:)

Brenda V.

Our area is at least 50 miles from the nearest tv station. I have heard that at 30 miles, there is almost a complete dropoff in reception with a digital signal going to a rooftop antenna. I work at a hardware store, and been asked by customers about this. Is this correct, and will they need a signal amplifier or something like that? We have dish tv, so this doesn’t affect us. We have about 115 worthless channels, and about 5 that we watch.

That is why we dropped Dish (Cable and the other Satellite are the same). We decided that we had enough of paying for tv we either weren’t watching or didn’t need to watch :D.

Any one out there got answers to our questions? Help!

Brenda V.

The music channels are worth it, if nothing else: jazz, blues, oldies, bluegrass, opera, classical, standards, swing bands. And elevator music!

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