Using Analog TV’s In A Digital World – The Frugal Approach!

On June 13, 2009, analog TV’s in the United States were blacked out permanently following a federal mandate on full-power broadcast television signals to switch to digital completely. The obvious choice at the time was to upgrade to one from the vast array of Digital TV’s available. The downside was that it could set you back upwards of $500, if you decided to go for a size of 32” or higher. Cable TV subscribers got some more of a breathing space but that too was only until cable providers completely transitioned to digital signals.

For folks who relied solely on full-power broadcast television stations, there was a frugal alternative to continue receiving broadcast television for free. The solution was a set-top digital-to-analog converter box that retailed upwards of $40 - it worked by converting the digital signals broadcasted to analog signals that could be displayed in the older analog TV's. Government simultaneously launched a $40 digital-to-analog converter box coupon program to help such consumers. This government discount made the choice a no-brainer as the box ended up costing almost nothing on a net-basis. One of the nice side-effects of adding this box was that grainy pictures became a thing of the past - as the signals were converted back from digital, you either got a very good picture or nothing at all.

Needless to say, it was a stopgap, as the picture from a digital broadcast on a digital TV was far superior to the converted analog signal. Then again, this gave the consumer the power to upgrade when they felt rather than being forced to upgrade.

Even now, the digital-to-analog convertor boxes continue to be used in many US households. Also, they are still sold for use with displays that do not have a built-in TV tuner (projectors, computer monitors, gaming terminals, etc.)

Last Updated: 01/2015.

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