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Wal-Mart Store Display for Converters  (Source: Wal-Mart)
Wal-Mart puts cheap digital converter box on store shelves for under $50

While many in the United States know that the transition to digital TV broadcasts will begin in early 2009, there are still some that are oblivious to the transition. The Nielsen Company says it estimates that the transition will affect 13 million households across the country.

To offset the cost of the digital transition for consumers, the U.S. government is offering coupons to help reduce the cost of the convertors for affected households. Without these digital convertor boxes, homes without TVs capable of receiving digital broadcasts that aren’t connected to satellite or cable services will no longer be able to receive programming.

Consumers will be eligible for up to two $40 coupons which can be used towards the purchase price of a converter box. Wal-Mart says that it expects many customers using these coupons to show up in its stores across the country.

Gary Severson, senior vice president of Home Entertainment for Wal-Mart said in a statement, “Due to our many locations, we expect the majority of customers will come to us for making their digital transition plan, both for convenience and price. We've prepared for many months to ensure the coupon process will go smoothly, and will work with suppliers to continue to have available, affordable options in our stores for all customers."

To make the buying process easier Wal-Mart says it set up a new platform at its registers to make using the $40 coupons as easy as using a gift card. The catch with the $40 coupons provided by the government is that the converters at this point all cost more than $40.

Wal-Mart now has one of the cheapest converters around with a Magnavox Digital-to-Analog converter at a price of $49.87. That leaves consumers paying about $10 out of their own pocket to continue to watch over the air programming with old analog only TVs.

Some may find the digital transition happening before the February 17, 2009 deadline in their area. The FCC changed the rules to allow broadcasters to make the digital transition early if it was required for the station to make the transition.

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Do I really Need This?
By golddave on 2/11/2008 2:40:36 PM , Rating: 2
I have done some searching and have not found a definitive answer to this question. I have an old TV that I use just often enough to want to be sure I can continue to use it. I have cable in my house and 2 TVs that use cable boxes to tune them. But this TV is connected directly to the cable (no box involved here) and tunes through the TV to get selected channels in the lower numbers (many of the channels between 2 and 99). Am I correct to assume that this TV will need one of these converters?

And before FITCamaro jumps on me let me add that I have a full time job, work hard for my money and pay my taxes on time every year. Between mortgage, property taxes, car payments, gas, etc. I try to save money wherever I can so I can support a comfortable but not excessive lifestyle. That includes shopping smart and looking for bargains. So if the government (or any other organization) is going to offer me a coupon towards something I must have and I find said item at a good price then you can bet I'm going to take advantage of the deal. That's not welfare. That's smart shopping.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By SunLord on 2/11/2008 3:01:14 PM , Rating: 5
If you have cable tv there is no need or reason to buy one fo these boxes they are used for over the air channels only. Cable TV will not be affected by the 2009 digital date so don't worry about it

RE: Do I really Need This?
By somedude1234 on 2/11/2008 3:07:27 PM , Rating: 2
Was just about to say the same thing.

But to add to the thought: You won't need to worry about it until the cable TV company decides to shut off their analog feed as well (for the exact same reason... bandwidth recovery). And when that happens, chances are these tuner boxes won't help you anyway.

Digital Cable == QAM64 or QAM256, either unencrypted or encrypted depending on the cable company and the channel.

USA Over-the-Air == ATSC, which is precisely what these boxes are designed for.

Someone more informed than me can chime in... any chance that the $50 wal-mart boxes will support clear-QAM in addition to ATSC?

RE: Do I really Need This?
By somedude1234 on 2/11/2008 3:13:50 PM , Rating: 2
Decided to answer it for myself. According to the specs on the walmart web site, this box is ATSC only, no clear-QAM support listed =(

RE: Do I really Need This?
By paulpod on 2/12/2008 12:20:37 AM , Rating: 1
This product is a complete ripoff if it does not support QAM. Cable companies are chomping at the bit to turn off analog and force people to pay $4-10 per outlet to get even the basic broadcast channels. I believe they are allowed to do so in Feb 2009.

Of course, when millions of secondary TVs in bedrooms, guestrooms, kitchens, and garages can no longer get CNN, Fox News, ESPN, Disney, MTV, etc. people will realize what it is like to have a government that is "of the corporate boardroom, by the corporate boardroom, and for the corporate boardroom".

With broadcast, the idea that analog channels are needed for "emergency services" is a well orchestrated hoax. The fact that the FCC secretly allowed the changeover to happen on cable is good, old-fashioned graft.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By mofo3k on 2/11/2008 3:18:30 PM , Rating: 2
That shouldn't be an issue also because if the cable company shuts off their analog feed, they'll just issue digital cable boxes.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By mindless1 on 2/11/2008 10:30:58 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if you might be overlooking a possibility, that IF/when a cable operator decides to convert from analog to digital, they might find it useful to do so with support from today's digital TV tuners instead of requiring yet another conversion box for every customer that didn't presently have one.

Some customers find the ability to hook up multiple TVs without separate boxes to be of great value, I know we would seriously question the value in the tier of service we have if this weren't possible.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By PAPutzback on 2/11/2008 3:12:18 PM , Rating: 2
Cable TV as far as havign a cable box will not be affected. But I run my Cable thru a splitter to feed tvs that don't have a cable box. This feed is analog and only carries the lower 70 some channels. Now how long before the cable company puts all channels in the digital range to force buyers to buy a digital tuner for each tv? Is there a law somewhere that told them they couldn't do this?

RE: Do I really Need This?
By oab on 2/11/2008 4:35:50 PM , Rating: 2
No idea, and there wouldn't be one because even if there is, it would likely be changed at the Cable Companies request. Besides, if they did go digital, they would likely issue you new boxes up to the number of TV's you're "allowed" to use as specified in your subscription agreement with them. If you're only allowed 3 outlets (one tv per outlets, splitters are NOT supported), they would give you access to up to 3 digital boxes.

And even though your cable feed is analog, it is unaffected, because the switchover is ONLY for Over The Air analog TV broadcasts.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By encryptkeeper on 2/11/2008 4:42:39 PM , Rating: 2
You won't have to buy a digital tuner, you'll have to either get one as part of a digital package (probably 5-10 dollars more per month, for the box rental and remote) or you'll have to get a TV with an HD tuner. Personally, I'd go for the upgrade on the analog TV and get an HDTV with the HD tuner built in. You'll probably be happier with that purchase anyway. If you live long enough, you'll have to buy a new TV at some point anyway.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By winterspan on 2/12/2008 5:10:48 AM , Rating: 2

I believe you are wrong on this. The poster above will need to "rent" set top boxes for the existing analog feed TVs from the cable company. As far I know, HDTVs ATSC tuners do not support the QAM encoding coming from the cable company.
Even if they do, many cable companies are encrypting the damn signal.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By nofumble62 on 2/13/2008 12:01:20 AM , Rating: 2
all of their paying customers in the community has switched to digital. This is the case of Cox. Lot of their broadband internet customer used to get analog cable for free because they cannot filter the analog signal out.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By Ringold on 2/11/2008 3:03:34 PM , Rating: 2
I can't speak for FITCamaro, but while I don't agree with a lot of welfare spending I see nothing wrong with accepting free money when it's offered to you. Why not? Maybe others would rather be poor and stand on their morals, but I say take what you can get. Philosophy is for election day. Again though, just looks obvious to me the government is handing a small fortune to who ever makes these converter boxes. (IMHO, sounds like dirty politics)

That said, I've got a TV that sounds just like yours, and I don't know either. I'll have to get a flash light and inspect the back of it and hope to see the word "digital" on a placard somewhere in the back.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By FITCamaro on 2/11/2008 4:39:13 PM , Rating: 2
It's not a matter of taking what you can get. It's a matter of how people are constantly complaining about how the government spends too much. Then something like this comes along and everyone says "GIMME!!!".

"Wait weren't you just saying the government spends too much money where it shouldn't?"

"Yeah but I get something for free this time so who cares?"

Thats the attitude I hate. People are against spending unless they get a direct benefit out of it. If currently for the war, Congress said, "For every month we're at war, every American gets $100.", I'll bet there'd be a lot fewer people complaining.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By TomZ on 2/11/2008 4:45:32 PM , Rating: 3
A different way of looking at this situation is that, by offering these $40 rebates, the government is able to re-license the same frequency band and collect $4-5B in fees. So if the rebates cost $500-1000M, the government is still coming out ahead. It almost sounds like a win-win for everyone.

That's far better than the usual situation...

RE: Do I really Need This?
By FITCamaro on 2/11/08, Rating: 0
RE: Do I really Need This?
By TomZ on 2/11/08, Rating: 0
RE: Do I really Need This?
By mindless1 on 2/11/2008 10:42:13 PM , Rating: 2
Education does not cause smarter kids to have better jobs, there will always be the crappy jobs as these jobs NEED TO BE DONE.

Education just makes them less willing to work the crappy jobs and more likely to end up on welfare surfin' the internet instead of working, feeling like clever trolls perhaps.

TV ties the nation together, it would be really ignorant to think it is a good idea to cut off the primary social exposure many people have, and not recognize that's where they (sadly) get their morals. Even though TV morality can be quite poor at times, things would be a lot worse without it's effect on society. Take the poor and deprive them of it and don't be surprised if they're committing more crimes for example.

In case you didn't notice, we already have a student loan program and more kids with degrees than we know what to do with. Is an educated young adult who would supposedly demand more pay, more or less likely to cause jobs to go overseas? More likely. Spending more on education is not the answer, we'll have to have better policies that protect the interests of the masses and cut down on illegal immigrant labor if we hope to get anywhere.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By Screwballl on 2/11/2008 7:09:36 PM , Rating: 2
So you're saying the $billions made from extra jobs that are being created by repair of current items and creation of new items to support the war effort that is paying much of our economy right now is no benefit? Simply because it is not directly paid from the government does not mean the money is not there and not being paid out, it is simply relayed through a few hands before it gets to the public. Plus it is not a direct refund, it is not a freebie, people are working for it and most of it is getting taxed making it loop back to the government.
Get your head out of Hillarys rear (thats reserved for Bill).

RE: Do I really Need This?
By FITCamaro on 2/11/2008 7:58:58 PM , Rating: 1
I know you didn't just call me a Hillary supporter. Because they only thing I want to put up Hillary's ass is a block of C4.

And I work for a military contractor.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By GaryJohnson on 2/11/08, Rating: -1
RE: Do I really Need This?
By amdsupport on 2/11/2008 3:23:55 PM , Rating: 2
umm... no.

If his tv is connected directly to cable then he doesn't need a converter to receive a cable signal after the cutoff date-- unless the cable provider goes all digital--this applies for anyone who has cable.

The converters are just for over-the-air signals, it is at the sole discretion of the cable/sat provider to go all digital or not.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By TomZ on 2/11/2008 3:33:36 PM , Rating: 1
The converters are just for over-the-air signals, it is at the sole discretion of the cable/sat provider to go all digital or not.

Correct, however, the death of analog cable will soon follow, since customers purchasing new TV sets will eventually not be able to find any with analog tuners (a very likely near-future cost optimization).

By jackedupandgoodtogo on 2/11/2008 3:47:18 PM , Rating: 2
While I agree analog signals over cable will die quickly, I don't think it's because newer sets won't have analog tuners. There's several millions of TV in people's hands that won't go away anytime soon with analog tuners. It'll really be up to the cable companies to decide when they'll stop sending analog signals on their cables. Most likely, it'll happen sooner for economic reasons (they want subscribers and no more "free lunch").

The broadcasters may have been fighting this transition, but I'm sure the cable companies have been looking forward to it to force people to subscribe.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By amdsupport on 2/11/2008 5:00:35 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see cable companies cutting analog cable anytime soon. I haven't even heard a mention of it yet (however I do know they are pushing "digital cable" very heavily) Cable providers have are traditionally "lethargic" and often wait for others to bite the bullet before the rest follow.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By GaryJohnson on 2/11/2008 11:53:38 PM , Rating: 2
The cable companies will eventually go all digital too, so yes he will eventually need a box.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By amdsupport on 2/13/2008 1:15:48 AM , Rating: 2
The cable companies will eventually go all digital too, so yes he will eventually need a box.

keyword, eventually far as I know none have set a date to do so and these converter boxes for sale now will more than likely not work for digital cable by the time they do.

"Cable companies are actually required by FCC rules to continue offering local broadcast stations to their customers in analog as long as they offer any analog service. This requirement will continue for at least three years after February 17, 2009."

Unless all the cable companies make a super push to go all digital by the OTA cutoff date I don't see it happening soon...even when they do as someone already mentioned above, the cable companies will probably issue a converter of their own to subscribers to charge a rental fee.

Buying one of these digital tuner for "future-proofing" purposes for digital cable conversion is probably not a good idea.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By amanojaku on 2/11/08, Rating: 0
RE: Do I really Need This?
By amanojaku on 2/11/2008 7:18:00 PM , Rating: 2
My previous answer was way off base and deserved to be downrated. Here's the full answer, which is basically "no":

Will cable customers with analog TVs have to buy or rent a set-top box from their cable company? If so, how much will it cost?

First, it's important to know that the February 17, 2009 deadline for the digital television transition only applies to full-power broadcast stations. Cable companies are not required by the government to transition their systems to digital, and can continue to deliver channels to their customers in analog. Cable companies are actually required by FCC rules to continue offering local broadcast stations to their customers in analog as long as they offer any analog service. This requirement will continue for at least three years after February 17, 2009. The Commission will decide in 2011 whether the requirement should be continued beyond February 17, 2012. This means that customers who receive analog cable service (without a cable set-top box) will be able to continue to do so.

However, for business reasons (among other things, digital is much more efficient than analog), cable companies may be interested in transitioning their systems from analog delivery to digital delivery. If a cable company makes the business decision to go all-digital (meaning it will stop offering any channels to its customers in analog), it must ensure that its analog customers can continue to watch their local broadcast stations. This may require customers with analog televisions to get a set-top box. If the cable company provides the customer with a set-top box, any costs related to it will be determined by the cable company. Therefore, it is recommended that analog cable customers contact their cable company to ask if a set-top box will be needed, when it will be needed, and if there will be a cost.

It is also important to note that a cable set-top box is different from a digital-to-analog converter box. A digital-to-analog converter box is necessary only for analog televisions that receive their programming over-the-air using a rooftop antenna or "rabbit ears" connected to the set. A digital-to-analog converter box is not necessary for a TV connected to a paid television service such as a cable or satellite TV provider. Information on any set-top boxes needed for a paid service such as cable or satellite should be obtained from the service provider.

RE: Do I really Need This?
By paulpod on 2/12/2008 12:55:47 AM , Rating: 1
Most people with cable receive about 70 popular channels directly on as many TVs as they wish.

They get to choose the TV. They get to choose the remote. They get to use dual-tuner PIP. They get to use a VCR. They get to use Media Center computers. They get to use Tivo without IR control hassles. They can flip through channels FAST. They get to send a TV all over the house without an IT staff.

Now the US government is FORCING cable operators to take that all away within a few years for NO REASON other than huge donations from cable monopoly lobbyists. This is the result of a population lulled into total complacency regarding goverment actions.

And what are channels like MTV, VH1, ESPN, Disney, thinking? Overnight, millions of TVs that receive their signal AND ADVERTISING will go dark. It will make no sense for people to rent cable boxes or buy satellite boxes for guest rooms, basements, kitchens, garages, and the like.

Only a very small percentage of people know this is happening to cable. Just ask around. The idea that you would not be able to bring home a TV, hook it to the wall, and watch ESPN is something NOBODY would ever expect to happen. If it were to be proposed, they would expect the FCC to stop it. But this is not your father's FCC.

The technical elite-- most readers here-- all have things like satellite and will dismiss this as a small issue. But just wait and see how average folk react when these channels go away or start costing extra money.

Maybe I shouldn't admit to this...
By bighairycamel on 2/11/2008 2:09:35 PM , Rating: 2
I feel like an idiot... I thought the coupons were to buy a box for $40, not $40 off the price. Guess I should pay more attention next time. Being able to get a box for $10 give or take is good news to me then.

RE: Maybe I shouldn't admit to this...
By TomZ on 2/11/2008 2:15:31 PM , Rating: 1
Too bad the coupons can't be used against purchase of a new TV with a digital tuner.

In a way, by encouraging the use of these types of converter boxes, the government is inadvertantly delaying the proliferation of digital tuners by allowing folks to continue to use their older TV's.

But that said, I do understand the "social" reason for these coupons...

RE: Maybe I shouldn't admit to this...
By oab on 2/11/2008 2:28:48 PM , Rating: 2
Well, considering the converter boxes are digital tuners ..... it sort-of works. Although, I haven't seen any TV being sold new now that has no digital tuner in it. It's like leaded gasoline cars. Sure you can *still* find them (if you really, really, try or visit a vintage car dealer), but you can't get one new, and you haven't for years and years.

By pomaikai on 2/11/2008 2:37:59 PM , Rating: 2
You do realize that this box is a digital tuner? How does offering masses a coupon for a digital tuner delay the proliferation of digital tuners? The reason to move to digital is so that the FCC can sell the old chunk of airwaves for billions. Whether old TVs have an analog tuner or not is not the point of this move to digital. The reason for this move is purely financial for the government. They will make over 4.8billion during the sale of the old TV frequencies.

RE: Maybe I shouldn't admit to this...
By Xodus Maximus on 2/11/2008 3:04:27 PM , Rating: 2
allowing folks to continue to use their older TV's

What is with the hatred of "old TVs"? I have a Panasonic 32" tube TV (CT32HL15 i believe) with a picture that is so sharp, colorful, and crisp that no Plasma or LCD i've seen can replicate. Should I just throw that tv out and have it be in a landfill somewhere? It does 480p up to 1080i and I have a HTPC hooked up to it with an ATSC card and unless it blows up or something that looks better comes out, Im not changing it, and im sure that im not alone.

Im probably going to pick up one of these boxes so that I don't always have to have a PC running when im not watching a movie. Oh and life without cable is so good, with netflix and the internet, there isn't much you'll miss :)

RE: Maybe I shouldn't admit to this...
By Ryanman on 2/11/2008 3:13:19 PM , Rating: 2
So, what you're saying is that it's easy to lie about TV's?

There's no way in HELL you have a tube TV that runs at 1080i. Why even bother feeding that BS on a tech forum?

By mofo3k on 2/11/2008 3:28:06 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe you should google the model number. This TV does in fact do 1080i and 480p, there were quite a few crt's that do HD quite well actually. The only complaints I'd make about it is that it's not widescreen, it's a crt(burn-in, weight), it doesn't list 720p as an option, and no built-in tuner.

By Xodus Maximus on 2/11/2008 3:44:09 PM , Rating: 2
thank you mofo3k,

Ryanman it does in fact accept a native signal for 1080i, the i is the important part, no it doesn't have 1080 lines, but it does have 540 lines which is what 1080interlaced is (get it half the lines per frame). I included the model number because its a discussion that has occurred numerous times with people, followed by a lengthy argument (heck, how did you think I knew the model number off the top of my head?). My point is that the picture looks fantastic, not how great its specs are, and when watching 1080i signals like those from the local news I don't notice the lines that exist on lcd tvs that you can sometimes see the interlacing artifacts.

Either way I keep the widescreen signal zoomed in on media center, so all channels looks fullscreen. And I have some fullscreen DVDs like The Incredibles that look beyond description so I'm happy.

By Spyvie on 2/11/2008 5:19:57 PM , Rating: 2
You can still buy brand new CRT HDTVs, Samsung makes both 4:3 and 19:9 models.

Only about 18 months - 2 years ago the Sony 34" 16:9 CRT sets were generally considered the very best HDTV Image available.

By Samus on 2/11/2008 2:12:52 PM , Rating: 1
50 bucks is cheap. that's exactly what the coupons the government is supposedly going to mail out to households are valued at.

RE: wow
By oab on 2/11/2008 2:25:21 PM , Rating: 2
No, the coupons are for $40 off the price of a converter box. $49.97 - $40 * sales tax = price (~$10-$12 depending on sales tax in your state)

RE: wow
By oab on 2/11/2008 2:31:43 PM , Rating: 2
Please note, I forgot BEDMAS there, the *ACTUAL* formula is:

(converter box price - coupon price) * sales tax = price

Note, if the converter box price minus coupon value is less than zero dollars, you only pay zero, but you WILL pay tax on what the price WOULD have been, depending on the laws in your individual states (it will obviously vary, nothing is ever free).

RE: wow
By Screwballl on 2/11/2008 3:14:23 PM , Rating: 2
The way most stores/states do these type of sales and coupons is:

price + tax - coupon = final price

So in this case they still pay the full tax on $50 (which in my area would be $3 at 6%) so the customer would pay ~$13 instead of $10.57

Granted it is only change but as long as the government gets their share right?

RE: wow
By h0kiez on 2/11/2008 2:27:29 PM , Rating: 1
I guess you haven't been paying attention AND managed to comment without reading the article. Nice job.

RE: wow
By OxBow on 2/11/2008 3:25:18 PM , Rating: 2
That's the American Way, Baby!

RE: wow
By darkblueslider on 2/11/2008 2:36:03 PM , Rating: 2
really? In the UK similar digi-boxes start at £10 in Tesco's (20 USD or so)

RE: wow
By Ringold on 2/11/2008 2:55:37 PM , Rating: 2
So long as the government is willing to pay up to $40, there's next to zero incentive to price them below $40.

Government intervention at its best.

display only?
By Oregonian2 on 2/11/2008 2:12:02 PM , Rating: 1
Nice photo of the "thingie", but the converters themselves don't appear in the photo. :-)

RE: display only?
By bighairycamel on 2/11/2008 2:16:08 PM , Rating: 2
Are you serious? See all those Magnavox DTV convertor boxes EVERYWHERE in the pic, and all around the sign? Did you think those were VCRs?

RE: display only?
By oab on 2/11/2008 2:16:29 PM , Rating: 2
Yes they did, they are those red/white boxes in the background that say "Magnavox" on them along with "$40 ...."

RE: display only?
By Oregonian2 on 2/11/2008 2:46:40 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, my mistake. I saw the sign above saying "DVD Players" and photos on the boxes of what looked like DVD players. Jumped to wrong conclusion!

"Sorry about that!".


RE: display only?
By ebakke on 2/11/2008 3:09:39 PM , Rating: 2
Jumped to wrong conclusion!

You might want to buy a new mat.

I would expect
By VahnTitrio on 2/11/2008 2:37:54 PM , Rating: 2
That some manufacturer will be selling these under $40 before next year. Manufacturing and development can't be too expensive, and at that price they would sell like hotcakes. The target market for these devices probably will be those not willing to spend any of their own cash.

RE: I would expect
By dever on 2/11/2008 3:28:19 PM , Rating: 3
As Ringold pointed out, since your neighbor's taxes are paying the first $40 of each converter box, there is zero (or possibly even negative) incentive for businesses to sell these for under that price. Their costs will continue to go down, but, as whenever government interferes with the free market, the consumer loses. As soon as these coupons are unavailabe, prices will drop like a rock.

RE: I would expect
By mindless1 on 2/11/2008 10:51:14 PM , Rating: 2
Not necessarily true, with a fixed $40 minimum the customer might instead buy based on features rather than lowest price.

I think we all know the cheapest product is seldom the best.

RE: I would expect
By Fritzr on 2/14/2008 6:19:06 AM , Rating: 2
2 coupons each. The market for the $29.95 convertor box is all those people buying 3 or more. Remember every analog set that is receiving OTA signal will require a seperate box.

Later when cable and satellite discontinue analog transmission they will also provide (at a small additional cost) a cable/satellite to analog convertor set top box. This was the solution used in the early days of cable when the cable company used channels that TV tuners could not reach.

The extended channel tuners started to be built into high end sets a little later and after a few years became the standard for digital tuners. Today most people are unaware that there was a time that set top boxes were required to allow a VHF/UHF only TV to see the movie and other premium channels.

Always evil....ALWAYS
By SiliconAddict on 2/11/2008 4:42:16 PM , Rating: 3
It will be a cold day in hell when I step inside a Wally World again...I did so for survival purposes when I was camping near WI Dells. I paid penance by going to Target the following week. Seriously though. You want to talk soul sucking company...

RE: Always evil....ALWAYS
By TomZ on 2/11/08, Rating: 0
About the picture...
By 9nails on 2/12/2008 11:03:28 AM , Rating: 2
Very funny Shane! It took me a few seconds to figure out why you had a girl with rabbit ears on her head. I kept trying to figure out how she was related to you. Then in context with over-the-air TV's I got a big chuckle out of it!

By nofumble62 on 2/13/2008 12:06:55 AM , Rating: 2
There are enough digital channel bandwidth in the air to compete with cable TV, why don't they offer that for cheaper alternative to cable and Satelite dish?

By umeng2002 on 2/11/2008 2:41:59 PM , Rating: 1
Seriously, this doesn't affect cable or satellite. I know cable companies will use this transition as an excuse to dump more and more analog channels to free up bandwidth.

By FITCamaro on 2/11/08, Rating: -1
By oab on 2/11/2008 2:22:32 PM , Rating: 2
If I didn't read Internet News Sites (like DT), I wouldn't have known about it, and I do watch actual live (not BT'd shows) shows on real live television. However, I have cable.

However, it is a political thing. Don't want to upset the Nascar dads by turning off their TV's, so lets give a coupon (which many people will apply for but likely never use, because it will spring upon them at the last minute when they realize the next day their TV is going dark) and rush out and buy a converter box. You can't use the coupon on a previously purchased box.

However, the US government makes lots of money off of broadcast companies, and coupons are a one-time expense, which will pay off with continued reliable dollars from the entertainment industry's sale of advertising, which would drop should 20% of US television watching public suddenly get static instead of signal.

By Mitch101 on 2/11/2008 2:56:41 PM , Rating: 1
I think it goes back to consumer awareness. A lot of TV's were sold as Digital Ready but contained no digital tuner. Just like HDTV's were sold as HD-Ready but were slammed because while they are HD capable they werent HDCP compliant. Ok back to Digital.

Marketing duped a lot of uneducated consumers who trusted the sales rep or the marketing slime. Keep in mind were talking digital not HD which of course is digital but not the same. Now your cable company usually offers a set top box but but they also by law offer lifeline service at a fee of about $15.00 a month which is something like channels 2-22. I believe its by law they cant cut off people from the media so the government has to offer these converters. When they cut over to digital feeds those with lifeline service need a digital converter otherwise they would have to pay a fee.

Im not going to judge those who aren't making enough of a living to be able to afford HDTV's etc because well people are in those situation for many different reasons. Denying them TV and when uneducated to improve thier lifestyle may just lead to things much worse than sitting on ones ass. Im all for someone sitting on their ass instead of turning to a life of crime.

Take it from someone who once ate the government cheese at one point in my life and lived in a trailer with holes in the bottom a cat could fit thought cockroaches living around you was normal. Taking TV away from people who don't have the mentality, ability, or opportunity to better their situation is not good. In some cases TV is their only opportunity at education and awareness of what surrounds them.

I do agree many people abuse the welfare system and see having children as getting additional money. Not everyone abuses the system. It does need to be refined with a cut off point of pay otherwise those who see it as their income will never be inspired to get off of it.

By FITCamaro on 2/11/2008 4:23:59 PM , Rating: 1
If you can afford an HDTV, you likely have HD cable or satellite which rends you unaffected by this switch.

By Mitch101 on 2/11/2008 4:40:52 PM , Rating: 2
True I don't need these.

Someone who is poor should be given the opportunity to receive one. As someone stated below maybe just one instead of two.

I agree it will be abused somehow. Some schmoe is going to find a way of getting 50 vouchers and buying up 50 of them to sell on e-bay. Those people should be put in jail and beaten because they are the main problem of the welfare system.

But if they make it too difficult the system doesn't work. Im sure we will read about a lot of people who had no clue about this when the day comes and they shut off the analog signal. The message just wont reach everyone.

By mindless1 on 2/11/2008 10:58:52 PM , Rating: 2
Not necessarily, I can afford to replace all my TVs but do not find it worthwhile at this time, just like any other appliance I own that still works.

I don't watch enough TV to justify HD cable or satellite, we all have different priorities and different things we may choose to allocate income towards.

I just want my TVs to keep working after the switch and feel that after all the taxes I've paid, some of that ought to come back in a way that I find useful to me, instead of only funding other things I don't care about.

If your taxes don't benefit you, WTF good are they?
Your entire arguments about TV for the poor are just ignorant. You don't have to be poor to chose not to buy all the things your neighbor has, and likewise, I have things my neighbor doesn't.

By mindless1 on 2/11/2008 11:24:00 PM , Rating: 2
I should add, I do have cable TV so I don't need a coupon, but will be annoyed when the day comes that cable no longer offers analog if any of my remaining decent analog TVs still work.

I don't watch much tv, so mine tend to last quite a few years. I may even do without cable eventually, depending on the quality of local digital broadcasts as I only consider cable TV a decent value at present because of the package deal with cable broadband ISP service. It's all about perspective, there really are better things to be doing than watching TV but I respect others' choices to do that if it's what they want.

By amanojaku on 2/11/2008 3:02:57 PM , Rating: 1
It's not a matter of ignorance, it's a matter of choice. While it's true that many people and organizations lobbied for improved picture quality via digital broadcasts, a large part of the U.S. either didn't know about it or was too lazy to make a choice. As a result the choice was made for them, and whether they like it or not they will have to switch to a digital system to watch T.V.

Welfare has nothing to do with it. Even you are eligible for the coupons. This is because the switch will affect individuals who don't have cable or satellite, which is a small group these days.

According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) plan introduced this week, all U.S. consumers will be eligible for up to an $80 subsidy to pay for analog-to-digital TV converters.

The switchover will primarily affect the minority of U.S. TV viewers that rely on TV antennas and over-the-air (OTA) signals for their broadcast programming. According to the Federal Communications Commission, up to 90 percent of U.S. households currently get their TV signal via a satellite or cable provider. People who receive programming in this way are not likely to notice when broadcasters power down their analog transmitters for good in 2009.

By tastyratz on 2/11/08, Rating: 0
By erikstarcher on 2/12/2008 12:15:55 PM , Rating: 2
Why should I not qualify for one of these? I am a cable subscriber, but I also have a tv not connected to cable. It is in my conversion van and needs an antenna to receive a signal. I am not going to buy a new tv just to put in my van, so I will be getting one of these converters, even though I subscribe to cable.

By pomaikai on 2/11/08, Rating: 0
By FITCamaro on 2/11/2008 4:31:11 PM , Rating: 1
How do consumers pay billions for airwaves that will no longer be used? The airwaves previously used by SD broadcasts are being auctioned for wireless services. Services that we already pay for. Cellphones, internet, etc. And those billions that the government "makes" then go back to the American people through other things anyway. Be it schools, roads, defense, etc.

This "coupon" is nothing more than an attempt by the politicians who championed it to garner votes. "Hey I gave you free TV! Vote for me now!". Just like many Democrats want to give illegal aliens citizenship. They don't care that it'll ruin our country even more. It'll get them the vote.

And its good to see you know the difference between "there" and "their".

By Oregonian2 on 2/11/2008 5:23:15 PM , Rating: 2
Also may be to save money on the class action lawsuit against the government that would almost assuredly would have been filed (and still may be) for making everybody's TV not work anymore, causing mental pain and suffering!

We just did a DirecTV upgrade and now have three sets in our house wired to satellite DVRs, but we've still three that aren't (wife's playroom, guest bedroom, and one that's in front of a treadmill). Those are admittedly not fancy sets (and the treadmill one is the end of the hand-me-down chain). But still, those three which now have figure-8 looking "rabbit ears" will become bricks next year w/o we having to go out and buy a converter that won't improve it's performance one iota -- it'll only PREVENT it from breaking ).

Even with two coupons I'd still have to buy one outright myself just to maintain the status quo. I'm essentially being made to pay this by the government -- a form of added tax (non deductible too, most likely).

So no, it's not "Hey I gave you a free TV! Vote for me now!", it's "hey I'm not going to steal your TV! Don't kick me out now!".

As as already been said, this government project will prove to be very profitable to the government. So don't sweat it.

By pomaikai on 2/11/2008 5:31:03 PM , Rating: 2
How do consumers pay billions for airwaves that will no longer be used?

Lets say verizon wins. How does verizon make money? Selling goods/services to customers at a markup to what it actually costs. Every penny a business spends is worked into the cost of goods and services.

And those billions that the government "makes" then go back to the American people through other things anyway. Be it schools, roads, defense, etc.

Yes the government spends its money very wisely doesnt it. Like welfare. Besides isnt that how everything works. We all work to make money so we can spend it so that someone else can get paid and it just keeps revolving.

The way I see it is that we paid a wireless service provider so they can afford to pay the govenrment which can then turn around and waste the blow the money like they always do. We will be really screwed once the govenrment starts outsourcing overseas.

I really could careless if I misuse there and their. Sometime I even misspell their and put the i before the e. I was good at math and science, and always hated english.

As a side note about the rebate. I am glad I will be getting a rebate. I am tired of paying in all this money just to owe more at the end of the year. Atleast with this rebate I can turn around and send it back to the government so I dont have to out of pocket as much at tax time.

By mindless1 on 2/11/2008 11:16:08 PM , Rating: 2
Know what the great thing about america is? If you want to opt out of getting this coupon, ok.

Now let's talk about government spending on military contracts, something which would hurt you more than the rest of us. See how it works? It doesn't matter if you approve or want a coupon, the function of government is to keep ALL of society, even those so poor you despise them, content.

You really don't have any morals do you? Looking down upon those who are poor with this coupon as an excuse, when the fact of the matter is, our society depends on jobs that don't pay much, many millions of people are doing without to support a world in which you benefit.

You think educting them will help somehow. The great lie unfolds. If your garbage man has a Ph.D, will that raise his salary or will the gargabe be picked up magically? No, society needs low wage earners and you should be damn happy if they're content to watch free TV and still work (harder on average) than the middle and upper class.

The sad part is when people with money whine about trying to make those without have even less. Boohoo, it's $40. That's going to pay for a lot of college credits isn't it? You're out of your mind.

By paulpod on 2/12/2008 1:05:25 AM , Rating: 1
Any person that thinks giving hardworking people a path to citizenship will ruin a country should have have all of his/her opinions disregarded. On the contrary, paranoia driven ethnic cleansing IS guaranteed to destroy a country.

I live in California. Every Mexican working here, legal or not, makes this state better and replacing them at the lower income scale with spoiled Americans and their lazy work ethic would be disasterous.

By andyilm on 2/12/2008 1:01:02 PM , Rating: 1
wrong. In fact, anyone of that opinion should be highly regarded as an intelligent person.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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