My In-Laws Won't Stop Using A Converter Box On Their New LCD TV

Even after the DTV switch, converter-box drama persists. Reader Bob is concerned that his in-laws were oversold on a converter box for their brand new TV.

Bob says:

They were buying a TV for a new RV and bought a DTV converter box. I told them after they got it that they shouldn’t need a converter because the TV (an LCD) was new. I unhooked the converter box and the TV found the new digital stations fine. They are in a poor reception area where they only get a couple of channels, but the digital ones were very clear.

They still don’t quite believe they don’t need the converter. I wonder how many people were over-sold the converter boxes. I did a fair amount of searching and couldn’t really find much (although there was a glut of general information) about what happens when a converter box is hooked to a new TV. I’m guessing it won’t work too great, but I’d like to see a more in depth analysis.

Is this one of those questions bored physics teachers like to ask? Like, “If you go the speed of light and turn a flashlight on, what happens?” (Answer, here.)

Well, we’re not experts or anything, but our best guess is that the box would do its job and convert the signal into something an analog TV would understand. Since your in-law’s TV understands analog signals as well as digital ones — it probably depends on the quality of the converter box.

Consumer Reports tested a bunch of DTV converter boxes and found that the quality of the image varied. Some produced almost DVD quality images — others were just about the same as your typical analog broadcast.

Anyway, does it really matter? Your in-laws don’t need the box — so tell them to get rid of it.


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