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Your Options For The Digital TV Conversion Coming Soon

By Erik Folgate

Are you sick of seeing the commercials and hearing your local news anchor talk about preparing for the digital TV conversion? Yeah, I am too. But, they are cramming down our throats for a reason. There are still millions of Americans who aren’t listening and come February 17th, there will be a ton of angry people calling their local news station wondering what the hell is going on. You may not think there is a soul on the planet that watches TV on an old CRT model with a bunny ears antenna, but there are plenty of them. There are plenty of these people for a good reason. Some people in America are either just not interested in the crap on TV nowadays, they don’t want to pay for cable, or they live in remote areas where cable service is hard to find. Whatever the reason is, I will never judge someone for not having cable, because it is definitely one of life’s little luxuries, and some people can become addicted to watching television.

I think every American has some level of interest in watching a program on televsion, whether it’s a television show, the news, or a sporting event. It’s important to know your options and what’s best for your bank account with the upcoming digital conversion.

  1. Buy A Digital Converter Box

    This will cost you anywhere from $40 to $80, but it will solve the conversion problem if you have an older big-screen TV, and you are unwilling to upgrade to a newer LCD or Plasma big-screen TV. The government is also giving out vouchers for a free converter box, but if you haven’t applied for one yet, you will not get it in time for the February 17th deadline. Obama and Congress have talked about extending the conversion date to June, but nothing has been set in stone at this point.

  2. Buy Basic Cable

    Getting basic cable solves the problem, but you cannot buy the analog basic service. You must buy the digital service that comes with the cable box, because that box acts as a digital converter box for your analog TV. You can find cheap basic cable rates, but many companies do not offer the 20 channel basic cable for their digital services. I don’t like this option if you’re not a big TV watcher, because you are signing up for a perpetual monthly bill that will cost you a lot of money in the long-term. Also, there are still some remote areas in the country that do not have access to cable. The only upside is that you could get free basic digital cable thrown into a package if you buy cable internet and voice-over IP phone service through a cable company. Only do this if you were already planning on buying these services.

  3. Buy a New TV

    any television you buy new in the stores now will have a digital tuner built into it. If you are going to buy new, you might as well spend the money on an LCD, Plasma, or DLP television. This is a good optioin for someone who doesn’t watch much TV, but watches the networks for sporting events, because you can pick up a 26″ or 32″ LCD TV anywhere from $250 to $500. Buy an HD antenna, and you’ll be able to receive over-the-air HD network channels for free!

If you like your existing TV, then shell out the money for a converter box. If you like watching sports or special events over the air, then I suggest paying the money now for a new TV and go with a smaller LCD TV at 720p resolution. I am just glad that the time has finally come for the digital era, because the analog stations look like crap on my LCD TV.

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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  • JEM

    We picked # 3 because we had a 20 year old TV and wanted to upgrade anyway…however even though we have a digital tuner, we don’t get any channels. :-(

  • http://blog.budgetpulse.com/ Craig

    Most people won’t be affected buy this because cable TV is the rage. But the few who will be need to adjust. These are basically the only options you have unless you don’t want to watch TV. I would also highly suggest FIOS if it is in your area, more developed for the future than cable boxes.

  • ekrabs

    I ended up going with a new HDTV as well.

    However, I did that because I needed a new computer monitor as well, and a new HDTV killed two birds with one stone.

    I also spent what I felt was the cheapest brand name HDTV for my needs, which was a Samsung Rose for a little more than $400.

    As an added benefit, I can play my XBox 360 in 1080p as well. All-in-all, I thought it was a good buy.

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