How to convert your old TV to receive digital TV over the
Now that you want to convert your old tv to digital, there
are a few things you need to know. This article will help explain your
options and help you decide whether or not to take that old favorite
tv that is just collecting dust and convert it to receive the new
digital tv signals that you may get for "free" by using an "off the air"
antenna. We will also make recommendations taken from well known reviews
such as Consumer Reports.
The Reason for DTV.
Why is television
going from the old analog television broadcast technology to
digital? The Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005
requires broadcasters to switch from analog (old technology), to
all-digital broadcasting after February 17, 2009. Digital television
provides a clearer picture and more programming but also does it more
efficiently, using less of the airwaves. Our nation's airwaves are very
congested and the problem is getting worse by the day.
broadcasting will free up some of the nation's airwaves for fire fighters,
police and other public service agencies to better communicate during
emergencies and will allow consumers access to next-generation wireless
services which take up even more "space" on the airwaves.
Does all of this effect me and my
If you receive television programs
free, over the air using "rabbit ears" or a rooftop antenna, you must
take action and make decisions to continue to receive television
service over the air after the changeover. Your older tv may not be
designed to receive digital tv signals and will not work with the new
digital transmissions. Effective 1 March 2007, new television sets
that receive signals over-the-air, including pocket sized portable
televisions, must include digital tuners for digital broadcasts. If your
tv is older than that, it is the older analog type and will require an
external digital tuner. As of this writing, all regular
broadcast tv stations have made the digital changeover and you will NOT
get the regular tv stations that you got before the changeover on
your older tv without either buying a new tv or adding a converter
box to the old one.
Since the changeover date is already in
effect, "over-the-air" television viewers will need to either
purchase a new device, called a digital-to-analog converter box; (DTV
converter), subscribe to cable or satellite service; or purchase a
television with a digital tuner to watch TV after that date.
What do you need to do?
You have to decide
whether or not to get a converter box or go with Cable or Satellite
tv to get reception on that old tv. Now is the time to identify any
televisions in your home that receive free, over-the-air programming
through an antenna. If you are hooked up to a "master tv antenna systems"
that may be in apartment complexes and unless they have made
provisions to get the digital tv for you, or have switched to cable or
satellite, then you will have to do it for your old tv.
Ways to Prepare
Your TV tuner is:
you get your programming from:
Provider converts for
Provider converts for
A Few More Things You May want to
companies will no doubt try to take advantage of the digital TV-transition
confusion. Here are a few tips to help you make an informed
decision before you buy or subscribe to something you may not
you're tv is not affected by the DTV transition if you have one of
* If if was
manufactured on or after March 1, 2007
* A TV with a digital tuner
(Check your user manual if you don't know)
* A digital-to-analog converter
* A cable or satellite TV subscription that's not connected
straight to your TV set (Check with your provider and ask questions to be
Only analog TV owners who rely on indoor or
outdoor antennas to receive over-the-air-television signals are affected
by the change. So if this covers you, then you WILL NEED a converter
You should already know
if your TV has a digital tuner. If it does... you are not effected!
Nothing more for you to buy....unless you want to switch to HDTV
(high definition tv).
If you own a
TV that's a few years old, a quick look inside your owner's manual may
tell you if your television has a digital tuner. Some TVs with this
feature are labeled, but if yours isn't, you can go to the manufacturer's
website and search for your model. It that's no help, then ask a
local TV repairman.
Sets with digital tuners will have one of the
Digital Tuner Built-In
not buy a television that doesn't have a digital tuner, unless you're planning to spend more money on a
All new tv's manufactured after March 1, 2007
will have a digital tuner.
Used tv's most likely will
not have them. If you plan to buy one anyway, keep in mind that it
doesn't need to be an
unless you want high-definition programming. Most tv stations now transmit
in high definition programming, especially "local" related programming and
network feeds PLUS standard definition DTV for those who do not have high
definition tv's. If you use outdoor or indoor antennas and you do buy
an HDTV, then your present antenna may be fine for receiving their "off
the air" programs in High Definition. As long as your present tv antenna
is in good condition, it should work fine for digital. Don't believe the
advertising hype that you need a "Whiz Bang Super Duper Ultra Whatever
Digital TV antenna" !!!!!!
No digital tuner, no problem!
You don't have
to get rid of your favorite analog TV set. Just get a converter
box. Keep in mind that you don't need a converter box if you
have cable or satellite service.
Still confused? Learn a sure
fire testing method that will help
old tv to an outside tv antenna or a set of rabbit ears (if you live near
the tv transmitting station). (The prefered is an outside
Now tune to
your favorite tv station that you received well before the DTV
changeover using the same antenna.
tuning the tv to many other channels. If you get nothing but snow on
the screen, like this,
then you will need the
How to hook
your new DTV converter box:
First, read and understand the
instructions that came with it.
box will go BETWEEN the tv antenna connection on the back and the
antenna cable. You may need a short jumper cable for it that fits the
connectors. The converter converts or "changes" the digital signal
electronically from the antenna to an analog tv signal that your old
tv needs. You may have to "re-aim" your antenna a bit. (Many tv stations
relocated their transmitting antennas during the transition.) Note also
that many tv stations lost some of their original coverage area after the
transition or they may have gained some
If you are
getting a "broken" picture that looks like a patchwork quilt, similar
to the picture below, Then you may need to use a better and higher tv
antenna or re-aim yours. If the tv stations are in different directions
from you, you may need to get an antenna rotor to aim it for each station
for best performance.
(example of weak pixelated DTV
can I go to get more information about a specific DTV
There are numerous web-based
resources you should check out.
Here are a few of them. You'll
probably find others as you surf the
General DTV information
DTV Station Locator.
Use to locate digital stations near
FCC DTV channel allocation tables, organized by state - www.transmitter.com
FCC FAQs on
Digital TV - http://www.fcc.gov/oet/faqs/dtvfaqs.html