According to the Consumer Electronics Association, half of US homes already have digital televisions. If you’re not one of them, you’ve got a year to switch—or make sure you hit up this site next Tuesday to get a coupon for a converter. [InformationWeek]

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  1. KingPsyz says:

    Now is a great time to… WAIT on buying a new TV.

    I wish I had waited, but since it was a gift I can’t complain.

    But when digital only is enacted, HDTVs are going to nosedive in price and this will be a great time to be a HD consumer.

    Granted, there might be a spike in price momentarily, since people like to take advantage of other people. But this will be short lived when the first person to lower price starts the coming HDTV price war.

    I see that being when the whole blu-ray / hd-dvd thing gets finalised as well (please be blu-ray, I love my PS3)

  2. alfista says:

    The FCC is only mandating the shutting off analog broadcast (over-the-air) broadcasts. Analog TV’s will still be able to receive analog signals over cable. Many cable companies are attempting to upsell consumers to more expensive digital cable by confusing this issue. Don’t bite (unless you want to).

  3. Chris Walters says:

    @alfista: Yeah, from what I understand, probably the only people who really should be worrying about converters are those who aren’t going to buy a digital TV in the next 18-24 months and who don’t subscribe to cable television. Rule of thumb: if you still receive your TV over antennae or rabbit ears, you’re going to have some probs a year from now.

  4. madanthony says:

    Hmm, none of my TV’s actually have digital tuners – my 32″ lcd is actually just a monitor, no tuner, and the other two are analog.

    But since I have cable, it doesn’t really matter – I have a digital box on the hdtv, and the others will be fine for analog cable.

  5. KogeLiz says:

    sure, just send me a check.

  6. gitemstevedave says:

    @cwalters: They should also upgrade to one of those new fangled 28.8k modems.

  7. edrebber says:

    It’s worth it to get an LCD TV in a small bedroom to free up floor or counter space.

  8. RvLeshrac says:

    @gitemstevedave:

    Unless they live in the 75% of the rural US that has no cable and no digital tower close enough to them.

    My parents get a signal that is just slightly better than nothing from a single channel where they live, mainly due to interference from the mountain next to them. They cannot get a satellite because there are many, many, many trees – they COULD put the dish near the road, but that would require running 1,000′ of RG6. (They could also cut down the trees, but that would sort of defeat the purpose of living near lots of trees.)

    There are also a number of areas in the US where satellite is unavailable for one reason or another. Not to mention the fact that, well, satellite TV isn’t free. No $40 coupon is going to help with a $50+/mo satellite bill.

    This means that many, many, many people in the US will be thrown back 70 years, and will be forced to get news and weather reports from the radio.

  9. RvLeshrac says:

    @gitemstevedave:

    And with regards to the modem comment, 90% of the US has no access to broadband other than satellite – which is INCREDIBLY expensive, unreliable, and still uses dialup for upstream.

  10. RvLeshrac says:

    @KingPsyz:

    Furthermore, Blu-Ray is a terrible format, piled high and deep with copy protection. HD-DVD isn’t *much* better, but it is *better*, and so I hope it wins.

    It is much better for the consumer when a playing a disc doesn’t *disable your player completely*, as many people discovered upon purchasing “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer.”

  11. RvLeshrac says:

    @RvLeshrac:

    (or, you know, you put in your Fantastic 4 DVD on a rainy night, since you don’t want to go out in the storm. suddenly, the power goes out, and when it comes back up, you find out that since the disc didn’t even warn you about the firmware update, your player no longer works – even though it wasn’t on the list of ‘region-free players to be disabled’)

  12. forgottenpassword says:

    WHat really SUCKS is that I found out that the average converter box is going to cost near $70! That means IF I can get one of those $40 coupons (who knows if there will be shortages) … i will still have to shell out $30 to get the converter.

    I have a 5 year old 35 inch tv that is still going strong & have no intention on buying some no-name brand of TV (visio? Who the F*ck has heard of(or trusts) visio brand Tvs?).

    Maybe I could request two of those coupons & sell one on ebay for $30. *shrug*

  13. martyf says:

    Here are a few things to ponder on the digital cutover.

    1. ATSC (the digital signal) is not intended for portable or mobile use. Thus, anyone who has a TV they bring to the game to watch a replay – that device won’t work.
    2. TV-Audio radios won’t pick up the audio portion.
    3. In-vehicle televisions won’t pick up the signal.

    I know it’s hard to fathom, but there’s lots and lots of people who don’t pay to watch commercials, or live in an area where an antenna is the only way to get a signal of any kind, and for these folks, the end of TV comes in about a year.

  14. Rando says:

    Yea…..just saw the chart. BASICALLY the only people effected are ones that get their programming over the air. So BASICALLY this is all hype.

  15. martyf says:

    It’s not all “hype” because more people – maybe you – get TV over the air than you might think.

    First of all, if you have a portable TV, maybe to bring to the game to see replays or some such…sorry, that won’t work.
    If you have a radio that picks up TV audio…that won’t work.
    If you have an in-vehicle television, like many truckers do, that won’t work anymore.

    And finally, even if you do get an ATSC capable TV, the signal range for digital television is MUCH less than for the Analog system. In the end, there’s not much to say that’s good about DTV for those people who don’t care to pay for access to broadcast media. Ultimately, this is nothing less than a massive undertaking to create a new, pointless market.

    All in all, there’s really nothing to be gained here by the consumer, and I’ll just leave the image of billion of televisions, all full of lead and toxic stuff, on their way to various holes in the ground.

  16. erica.blog says:

    I can’t wait until Time Warner tries to scare me into switching :D

  17. Bryan Price says:

    I own three non-digital TVs right now. One of them should be junked (a 25 yo 25 inch console). The other two are connected to cable, so no biggie there.

    The thing that gets me is that living where you need to be prepared for a hurricane, the two self powered radios that I have won’t be able to grab the TV audio now, which is the bigger bummer. I wonder when the new sets will be out that will grab the digital signal. My experience is that I’d much rather listen to the TV than the radio around here for hurricane news.

    I plan on getting my HDTV next Christmas. I figure I’ll get as big as I can (1080p of course) for $1000, and call it quits. It my be time to retire the bedroom one too. 19 inchers aren’t that much even today.

  18. dvdchris says:

    @RvLeshrac:
    Less than 15% of the population still receive OTA signals. Even fewer live far enough away from broadcasting towers that they will actually lose signal AND cannot otherwise get satellite or cable.
    Your ‘many, many, many people’ turn out to not be that many.

  19. dvdchris says:

    @RvLeshrac:
    I don’t know where you’re getting these crazy figures.
    Currently about 44.6 percent of U.S. households have broadband internet and the number that gets it from cable is around 70%.
    Thus this ’90% of the US has no access to broadband other than satellite’ is hogwash.

  20. Rusted says:

    @RvLeshrac: No more TV in the country?

    This is not a bad thing. Radio, Internet, books, DVDs, that’s what I go by. Someone once referred to television as the vast wasteland. Actually, it’s more like a vast garbage dump.

    The people out in the hinterland will start getting smarter then their urbanized cousins.

  21. RvLeshrac says:

    @cooltidbits.net:

    The number increases over time. The town in which my parents live *just* got broadband six months ago. 128k DSL. 128k. HIGH SPEED INTERNETS AWAY! There has to be a baseline for broadband, seriously. The service providers will call *anything* over dialup ‘broadband’ or ‘high speed internet.’ I seem to recall a few dialup providers referring to their caching and compression services as ‘high speed.’

    @cooltidbits.net:
    Less than 15%? That certainly explains why those analog broadcasting towers are simply *VANISHING* instead of being replaced with *OVER THE AIR DIGITAL* towers. Because companies are highly interested in the lucrative “spending tons of money to provide our service to people who don’t use it” markets.

  22. dvdchris says:

    @RvLeshrac:
    “128k DSL. 128k. HIGH SPEED INTERNETS AWAY! There has to be a baseline for broadband, seriously.”
    Lol. You have a point there. Some of that other 30% of those 44.6% have got to fall into that category.

    As to the analog towers vanishing, is there an example? Digital broadcasting doesn’t require any different tower design, most TV stations simply run the additional cabling and install a digital broadcast antenna on their existing tower. Many towers, however are already full of antennas for TV and radio stations, remote broadcast receivers and so on and have no more capacity for even one more. So about 5 years ago there were a record number of new digital broadcasting towers erected, since all TV stations have been required to broadcast digitally since 2002.
    In neither case would the TV station take down their existing tower.

  23. RvLeshrac says:

    @cooltidbits.net:

    You see the point, though. If there wasn’t a large market for it, broadcasters would stop broadcasting OTA instead of spending money on digital.

  24. calwatch says:

    Actually, everyone should probably get one coupon for the times that the cable goes out, or if the satellite dish comes crashing down or stops working, or if you decide to quit cable or satellite and have to wait for the new provider to hook you up. There is no risk in receiving one coupon, and if it turns out that the boxes are not cheap enough, let it expire and request the other one (if they are still available) to buy the backup box.

  25. vladthepaler says:

    This website you linked to is worthless, you can’t request a coupon from it at all! When I did finally find the site to go to for requesting a coupon, all it ever said was that my session timed out and I should try again.