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Converter a Simple Way to Transition to Digital TV

Posted February 20, 2008

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— A digital converter box takes a digital TV signal and converts it so analog televisions can recognize it and work.

It's one option for TV owners when all television signals go digital by Feb. 17, 2009. They're necessary if you have an older TV that has an antenna or rabbit ears. (Don't know if your TV is ready for the DTV transition? Find out here.)

The converter has an antenna jack and a TV-out connection in which a cable is linked to the cable input on the TV.

Rick Bowman, a 35-year veteran of RadioShack, says digital converter boxes are easy to use.

"It's simply a matter of hooking it inline between the rabbit ear or outside antenna source and the television set," Bowman said. "One in, one out."

A couple of clicks with the remote, and the converter is ready to go.

Basic converters cost about $60, but the federal government is offering two $40 coupons (valid for 90 days of the date they are mailed) per household to help offset the cost.

The first ones are expected to arrive to households that have requested them within the next week.

And Bowman points out that even if most household TVs are hooked to cable or a satellite service – and therefore, don't require a converter – you might have an older set you haven't thought about that could need a box.

"It might be for dad, who just wants to go out on the deck and catch the ball game while someone else is in the house doing something else," Bowman said. "He can take his converter box, his TV and his antenna and go out there and watch the game without being concerned."

None of it is a concern for Bowman, who's seen many technological firsts – the calculator, the cordless phone, the cellular phone, the computer.

He says he sees the DTV conversion as one more small step toward grand advances in technology.

"Oh, this is a drop in the bucket," he said.


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