Compare and Choose the Best Analog-Digital HDTV TV Converter Box To Buy


Begin by: Choosing The Best TV Converter Box


What we're actually talking about is the method in which a television signal is broadcast. Since the beginning of TV, all signals have been analog. These signals look like a wave - with a peak, a valley, and a slope between those two points. The picture and sound is sent to your TV by manipulating the shape of this wave.
Digital signals, on the other hand, are just a stream of ones and zeroes. This is the same way your computer communicates over the internet. This method is much more efficient and by using algorithms (complex mathematical calculations), additional information can added to the signal. This can include multicasting and electronic program guides. By-the-way, cell phones went through this same transition (from analog to digital) a couple of years ago.


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Ha Ha, If you're a conspiracy theorist, I guess you could find all sorts of reasons that look suspicious. I'm not one of those theorists, but I'll admit I have a few opinions on the matter. However, the official reason is this:
Congress passed legislation mandating broadcasters switch to digital back in 1996. The reasons involve improvements to picture and sound quality as well as providing additional services.
When analog broadcasting ends, the broadcasters will return those frequencies back to the federal government. Some of those frequencies have already been allotted to public safety organizations (police and fire). The remainder will most likely be sold to the highest bidder for commercial purposes.


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Yes! However, you will need to buy an additional piece of equipment. There are a number of options available.
The first is the least expensive and that is to purchase a digital to analog converter box. Your next choice is to buy a digital tuner. This is a bit more expensive but you gain some additional features not included in a basic converter box. And finally, there is the digital video recorder (DVR). This is similar to a VCR but records digital signals onto a computer hard drive instead of a magnetic cassette tape. This device includes a digital tuner. As you might expect, this is another bump up in cost, but again, many more features than either the converter box or digital tuner.


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It's actually pretty simple. A converter box does nothing more than perform a translation. It sits between your antenna and TV. It takes the NEW digital signals received over the air waves, and converts those signals to an analog version that your current television can understand.


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These are acronyms used to describe differing television formats and broadcasting methods.

  • SD - Stands for "Standard Definition". A reference to the quality of the audio and video. Standard definition is the format you grew up with and is the basis of traditional analog broadcast quality.
  • HD - Stands for "High Definition". This is a vastly improved picture and audio experience. This format is equivalent to the sight and sound experienced in a movie theater. This includes a wide screen format (16x9) that is again like what you would see in a theater.
  • DTV - Means "Digital TV" and is a broadcasting method. Television signals are broadcast in a digital format. These can be either standard definition or high definition.
  • HDTV = "High Definition TV". Basically the same as HD. HDTV implies that the signal is broadcast digitally which doesn't really carry much weight cause there is no such thing as HD being broadcast by analog means. This is pretty much a case of "You say tomato, I say tomahto.


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This is somewhat technical in nature, but let me try to explain this...
Broadcasters are allowed to transmit up to 19 megabits of data per second for each DTV channel. They are not however, required to use the entire bandwidth for a single channel. Instead, they may split this bandwidth across multiple sub-channels of varying resolution - just so long as they live within the 19 megabit limit.
Here where I'm located, the local PBS station broadcasts on channel 21. It's main channel is 21-1 and it's a HD broadcast. During the day, they also broadcast on channels 21-2, 21-3, and 21-4. These additional channels are of standard definition. Because standard definition is of lower quality, not as much data needs to be sent over the air and this broadcaster takes advantage of this by broadcasting one HD and three SD channels over the allocated bandwidth.
THEN, during the evening hours, channels 21-2, 21-3, & 21-4 are turned off. The extra bandwidth is then allocated to a new channel (21-5) that's broadcast in high definition. HD requires greater amounts of data to be sent so it takes the place of the three SD channels that are used during the day.
This adding and subtracting of bandwidth allows this broadcaster to operate one HD and three SD channels during the day, and two HD channels at night.
This is multicasting and available right now. A converter box will provide these additional channels on your current analog TV set.


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Yet another acronym... This one means "Electronic Program Guide".
Broadcasters can now send additional information along with their television signal. This is one of those enhanced features made available due to the efficiencies achieved by moving to a digital broadcast format...
EPG is an on-screen listing of program titles and times for that given channel. It's like looking at a station listing in the newspaper or TV Guide®.


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The initial answer to this question is "no", you do not need to be concerned. Cable companies have a couple more years before they are mandated to convert over to digital signal broadcasts. By being connected to their system, any converting that needs doing, is done with the box they have sitting next to your tv set.
BUT, what happens if there is an emergency and the cable is out? How are you going to get a television signal - and more importantly, a local television signal? If you don't have a least one converter box, YOU ARE HOSED! My suggestion is to buy at least one of the bare-bones converters - use the government coupon and be on the safe side.
I'd like to shed some light on what might initially seem like a contradiction... How come cable companies don't have to convert, but the broadcasters do?
Well what is required is that any broadcaster that uses the "air waves" for transmitting their signal, move to a digital format. Cable companies are broadcasting their signal over a wire. This signal doesn't go through the "air" so technically, there is no "over the air" frequency being used. Federal mandates for them is a couple of years down the road. Incidentally, a good share of cable companies are already broadcasting in digital format. Again, because digital formatting is so efficient, they use those efficiencies to provide additional services such as pay-per-view and "on demand" programming. That box setting next to your set is doing all the work to make sure your TV gets the signal it needs to bring you their programming.


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NO! Sorry but you are not ok. What that labeling is saying is that your television is capable of displaying a high definition picture. The DISPLAY portion of the TV is there, but the picking up, or receiving portion (tuner) has been omitted. This basically means that you have a high definition monitor.
And that's ok - you didn't get gypped. You paid less for your set than one with a tuner built in. You have a set that will display a beautiful high definition picture - you just need either a digital tuner or a DVR to get the best out of your set.


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Yes! You still need to get that signal and bring it into the house. However, depending on where you live, you may be able to use an indoor "rabbit ear" type. If you live in a metropolitan area where there are many local broadcast stations, a table top antenna may be just fine. If you live in a rural area though, chances are you'll need to invest in a decent outdoor version.
And because digital signals travel best in a straight line, give considerable thought to installing a rotor along with that antenna. This way, you can aim the antenna towards the source for the best possible signal.


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The government realizes that there is going to be some cost to the consumer for this little conversion so they've stepped up to the plate and are issuing rebate coupons to help offset the cost of converting. Each household is allowed up to two coupons worth $40 each. There are a couple of caveats though. One is that the coupons have to be used within a certain amount of time after they are issued. Second, they cannot be sold or traded to anyone other than the person they are issued to. And thirdly, they can only be used on certain models and makes, which only include the bare-bones units. You cannot use these coupons for digital tuners or DVR's.


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