$40 Coupons For Digital TV Converter Boxes

If you have an older TV, you may be eligible for two $40 coupon good for the purchase of two digital converter boxes starting Jan 1, 2008. The boxes will probably cost $50-$70. New federal mandates will require all TV signals to go digital and that means you need to get a digital box, buy a digital TV, or subscribe to cable or dish-based programming if you want to watch TV after February 17, 2009. After the first of this year, you can get your coupons by calling 1-888-DTV-2009 or visiting dtv.gov.

ConsumerReports has more info about what this all means and which kinds of TVs you’ll need the converter boxes for.

Comments

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  1. Buran says:

    Do us a favor and repost this on the 1st — right now, the link doesn’t give out coupons.

  2. I got my DTV deputy certifcation. It means I undestand all the acronyms, abbreviations and possibly watch too much television.

  3. econobiker says:

    Who gets the analog signals now? Or do they go missing?

    Will a betamax system tape from Digital TV?

  4. teh says:

    God, that website looks like it needs to undergo a conversion. My eyes (and mind) hurt after looking at it for about 2 seconds.

  5. FLConsumer says:

    Ugh.. I hate the US HDTV/ATSC digital format with a passion. NTSC isn’t anything to be proud of, a 1940 black & white format with color hacked onto it, but at least it works under less than ideal reception conditions, such as emergencies, when the mass media becomes useful for once. I’ve tried a couple of digital TV tuners w/antennas and the reception is just pathetic.

  6. I don’t wanna!!!!!!!!

    Seriously, is this switch to digital only not the stupidist government idea ever?

  7. ludwigk says:

    @Flconsumer: keep in mind that almost all broadcasters are throttling the digital signal strength as not to interfere with the much more prevalent analog signal.

    When analog services are discontinued we will have much stronger digital broadcasts, along with more frequency bandwidth to go around.

  8. MYarms says:

    I guess February 17, 2009 is the day I stop watching television.

  9. target_veteran says:

    So, let’s make sure I have this correct. To watch things like tax-funded PBS or nationally televised events like the State of the Union address, which directly affect my knowledge as a citizen, I need to pay to upgrade my TV? (Note: I’ve known of the issue for a long time. Consider the above rhetorical.)

    This is nothing more than a blatant kickback to electronics manufacturers. It creates massive amounts of waste. It entices people into buying shit-they-don’t-need. Will the Emergency Broadcast System still be in analog? Is there a recycling plan in place to accomodate all the heavy metals used in good old analog TVs?

    I hate this mandate. Hate hate hate it. Giving coupons worth less than the the cost of the device is just a slap in the face. Having less to go around than needed is even moreso. Being forced to consume more natural resources is just unconsionable.

    Worst. Plan. Ever.

  10. Jeff_McAwesome says:

    My brother is an engineer at an electronics company and he says they are trying like hell to make these things for under $40. I would recommend not buying a box until February 16th, 2009.

  11. tubby says:

    @TargetVeteran: Digital TV was supposed to be a standard 20 years ago. They kept pushing it back so not to inconvenience consumers. But now it’s time to move forward into new technology, so consumers can have more selection and better quality signal on their digital sets (or digital set-top boxes), which includes the majority of TV owners.

    If you have a cable box, this switch won’t affect you. Otherwise you can buy this converter which the government is subsidizing with a rebate.

    The government isn’t “forcing” you to buy a new TV and create waste with your old one. It’s just helping move along technology that has been held back too long.

  12. AD8BC says:

    @tubby: Actually, even if you don’t have a cable box, but you do have regular analog cable, you will still be OK. The cable companies plan on doing the downconversion for you and keeping the channels available on analog cable.

  13. AD8BC says:

    @target_veteran: Believe it or not, the government actually got this one (mostly) correct. The issue is not just upgrading obsolete technology, it is a matter of releasing radio spectrum for other uses.
    For example, the UHF frequency band for TV is 470 to 806 MHz, and the VHF TV band ranges between 54 and 216 MHz. These are prime frequencies for land-mobile (2-way) radio for business and government use. Unfortuately, currently there is not enough UHF-VHF land mobile spectrum available to fill the needs. Since analog TV takes a wide bandwidth to transmit the video and audio, and digital takes a smaller bandwidth (and actually less power) to transmit the same information, by reducing the bandwidth that broadcast TV uses, it increases the amount of spectrum available for other, more urgent uses.
    I have to give the FCC credit for taking the needs of consumers into account when they finally settled on a conversion date, although I take issue with the use of taxpayer money to pay for the converters (the ability to watch TV is not a constitutional right (nor, for that matter, is internet access, so it kind of tosses the whole “digital divide” ballyhoo)). At least there was plenty of warning. It could have gone worse.

  14. AD8BC says:

    @ad8bc: Radio spectrum information:
    [www.howstuffworks.com]
    [www.ntia.doc.gov]

  15. AD8BC says:

    US Frequency Allocations: [www.ntia.doc.gov]

  16. Skiffer says:

    Next stop – the metric system!!!

  17. Framling says:

    @target_veteran: Eh, I’d say it’s more of a blatant kickback to the communications companies that will be buying up all that spectrum freed up by shutting down analog broadcasts.

  18. AD8BC says:

    Yeah right.

  19. warf0x0r says:

    @Skiffer: Nooo, I just learned to travel by Sachines cause I thought it would catch on.

  20. Oh. Your. God… Is that seriously the website, [www.dtv.gov] !? Is this program so under-funded that they had to resort to recruiting some low-level FCC seceretary’s 13-year-old son to design the site? What’s with the Netscape logo circa-1998 favicon in the address bar?

    As a web designer I am ashamed to live in a country who’s government websites look like this! They apparently haven’t thought of the Spanish or foreign language speaking Americans who want Digital TV info, ‘cuz this site is 100% unaccessable.

    I’m totally submitting this to Vincent Flanders’ webpagesthatsuck.com.

  21. Skiffer says:

    @ad8bc: …in 2090, I mean…

  22. DadCooks says:

    This is going to become a big fiasco…

    First, there are none of the converter boxes on the market now and no assurances that any will be available before the coupons expiration date.

    Second, they are still debating the standards under which these boxes will work. So there is no assurance that the “first generation” boxes will work when great digital change takes place.

    This is a prime example of legislators and regulators that have barely the knowledge to flip a light switch trying to improve our life with something way beyond their technical comprehension.

    The quality ;) of the website (and have you seen the lame commercials on TV?) is a good indicator of things to come.

  23. Buran says:

    @target_veteran: So under that logic we should still be using leaded gas and turboprop airliners and steam locomotives and Model Ts.

  24. swalve says:

    @LastVigilante: Why don’t you be a bigger asshole next time?

    @DadCooks: You are incorrect. The boxes are on the market, I’ve had one for approx two years now. And the standards are set in stone.

  25. XianZomby says:

    Yea! New fodder for conspiracy theorists! Don’t want to move out of the 50’s and into the new world? There’s a wooden shack somewhere in the mountains with your name on it. You and your anti-government/Luddite friends can go there, amass guns, buy lot’s of nitrogen-rich fertilizer and watch movies from your sizable VHS collection on your 1976 Magnavox Console TV.

    Please, if you’re going to be anti digital TV, use words like “new fangled” and “whippersnappers.” It would also help people better accept your viewpoint if you whittled something and handed out Werther’s Originals while you derided progress.

    For me, I’ll take the two free boxes, hook them up to my existing televisions, and buy digital sets 5 years from now when I’m in the market for something better.

    Go Go Digital!

  26. ej00807 says:

    Long overdue and a boon to consumers needing lower cost, higher quality, radio, computer and video delivery. Incidently, selling these frequencies for two-way radio communications would be wasteful use of resources.

    Cell-phone networks have been adopted by most busines and are adqequate for utility and delivery drivers. The CB radio band lies virtually unused in many areas.

    Give the frequencies to Google, who supports an open infrastructure for all digital devices.

    Also, note, you do not have to subscribe to ‘dish’ or cable. These digital signals have been broadcast over the air in many markets for some time. You don’t even need a new fancy antenna; any old UHF antenna is the same thing.

    For terrestrial, free HDTV, you just need a ATSC tuner box (convertor).

    If you are sticking with cable, you need a QAM tunner box. If you hook one up, it probably already has lots of free programming you didn’t know you have.

    Many satellite subscribers will want new STRs for hi-def, but the change over doesn’t require them to do anything.

    In any case, if you really want to benefit by all of this, you will need a HD display screen (new teley), because all of your $50 converters are not going deliver the improvements.

  27. AD8BC says:

    @ej00807: EJ, before you read on, know that I think you had a well thought out and valid post, but I need to debunk it anyway, but only for technical reasons.

    You made some good points, to be sure, but knowing friends in the industry, there is a very strong demand for more business-band and land-mobile frequencies and these frequencies will be just perfect.

    In actuality, the UHF and VHF frequencies that will be freed up will be relatively useless for any kind of data or video delivery — the amount of bandwidth, and power, that this type of transmission would take up on VHF and UHF would be incredible. Even us ham radio operators can’t easily squeeze more than 4800 baud (and that is a stretch) over our allocated frequencies at 144 MHz and 450 MHz. And, they could not be used to expand cellular networks either — their particular characteristics just don’t lend them to that duty.

    The CB band, though largely unused, would really do nobody any good either. It is at the low end of the shortwave bands which gives it some weird and unpredictable characteristics depending on, believe it or not, sunspots and solar storms. With the right solar activity, signals will travel around the world. With no solar activity, you’d be lucky for your signal to be heard more than 20 miles away.

    The beautiful thing about the electromagnetic spectrum is that each individual wavelength behaves differently than any other wavelength. That’s why UHF and VHF is well suited for local types of signals (2 way radio, television, FM radio) and that’s why wireless ethernet is up at 2.4 gigahertz, because it handles the data more efficiently at higher speeds, and why cellphones are down around 800-900 MHz.

  28. zentec says:

    @DadCooks:

    Nonsense. The ATSC standard has been used for the past 10 years, it’s not going to be changed. Ever.

  29. zentec says:

    @ludwigk:

    Many are not outputting full power, but it’s not because they don’t want to interfere (they are not on the same channel), but it’s because:

    1. Most broadcasters, UHF and high-VHF, are using temporary channels and antennas. When the switch occurs, they’ll move over to their current NTSC channels where the antennas are higher elevation and higher gain.

    Low VHF stations will stay on their current UHF ATSC channel, but they’ll have to put new antennas up as well since when they started HD broadcasts, they didn’t want to spend a lot of money on antennas they knew would be temporary.

    2. Broadcasters want to use as little power as possible because it extends IOT life and it uses a lot less electricity.

  30. rpertusio says:

    Wish the coupon could apply to ‘HDTV on PC’ tuners like the OnAir GT, or simply Digital (HD) TVs.

  31. forgottenpassword says:

    WHAT??!! I thought that the coupons were supposed to fully pay for the converter!!!! Now I gotta pay $10-20 ??!!! What a gyp!

  32. axiomatic says:

    PLEASE!!!! Everyone help your parents/grandparents/technophobes make the switch to digital. If this can finally occur we all might see our investments in 16:9 aspect ratio HDTV’s actually get ALL content made by the major TV stations in 16:9.

    I have NEVER understood why the FCC kept pushing the date out for a bunch of lazy consumers who are not providing any money to CE manufacturers. I would think you would mold the broadcasting formats to those actively helping sustain the industry. (i.e. the early HDTV adopters.)

    Get on the ball people, I have already got my parents and grandparents to HDTV. And after all of their bitching that they didn’t need to switch, they all regret making that comment and think TV is FUN again with HDTV.

  33. UpsetPanda says:

    How ‘old’ is old, really? I mean I have a TV from 10 years ago. With ambiguous acronyms and government websites, it still isn’t clarified how old does a tv have to be to be useless…10 year old tv, is that old or is that still considered ample?

  34. vladthepaler says:

    I don’t see any coupon links on the web site you linked to.

  35. Blueskylaw says: