This is an old article pending revision.
If you have watched television recently, and have been paying attention to the commercials and/or the crawls during your favorite television shows (or whatever happened to be on the television that you were watching that wasn't necessarily your favorite thing to watch; you only watched it because you were bored) this means that you have probably seen various commercials about "The Transition To DTV".
There are numerous commercials with a lady whose name I won't bother looking up right now just because I don't feel like it, who announces the transition is happening soon. There is one commercial featuring retired Game Show host Bob Barker, and there is another animated one that I don't know much about either. Those are all the ones that I can think of. To me these commercials are slightly misleading. I know enough about AV equipment (a television and its accessories for example) that they simply can not be as vague. If you remember older televisions having dials to select channels and then more recent televisions that have channel up buttons and channel down buttons to select the channels, perhaps you call that "analog", and "digital". Since I do, I always get this confused when they are talking about a television with "a digital tuner", since I think of every television with channel buttons as "digital" tuning.
Q: What exactly is happening and when is it happening??
A: On Tuesday, February 17, 2009, All (or almost all) broadcasting in NTSC format will end in favor of ATSC format.
Q: Will I have to get a new television; Will my television be turned into recycling bins or a fireplace or aquarium??
A: Of course your television(s) will work!! You can get newer televisions as a supplement or replacement to your existing televisions. The "Just A Box" topics are extremely misleading. Which I think qualifies as another question...
Q: Will my TV literally become "just a box"??
A: No. Older televisions will not blitz off either. There are several things that said particular television can still do. A television equipped for only NTSC broadcasts can still play DVDs, VHS, LaserDiscs, Video Games, WebTVs, and other things...
Q: Do I have to subscribe to cable or satellite television services??
A: You do not have to. If you prefer to, or are already subscribing, then your cable or satellite providers will pretty much do whatever is necessary for the transition and advise you of any other steps you might have to take.
Q: What about televisions that are not going to be connected any time soon to cable or satellite services??
A: You can still receive programming "over the air". Check your local television stations. The number of channels available should have at least doubled. If you do not receive the number of channels that they say that they are broadcasting, then your television needs a converter box.
Q: What is your interpretation of NTSC and ATSC??
A: From what I have seen, I think NTSC is any type of television signal that starts out with static. I think it is called "snow". It makes a lot of annoying noise. If the signal is weak or disrupted, the quality is very terrible. ATSC is any type of television signal that starts out with "no signal" and any interference or weak signals have interruption of sound immediately with a distorted picture that resembles pixels. If this is correct, that means that satellite television signals have always been ATSC. I remember seeing a mixture of channels of both types of signals from the same cable provider service. This would mean that typical satellite television would transition effortlessly since they already broadcast in ATSC and already has their decoder boxes included. Since cable appears to broadcast in both ATSC and NTSC their transition will be slightly different. I believe that cable providers would provide decoder boxes. I have been to somebody's house recently and they have one that functions as a decoder box (which is technically a digital video recorder)
Q: Can you explain more about the televisions??
A: The older televisions will need a decoder box for over the air signals if they are not connected to a cable or satellite service. If they are, then the cable or satellite service will provide one themselves (satellite already has this). The newer televisions would have the ATSC devices built into them which would mean that they would function in unassisted in any type of television signal. They also have built in media card readers which I prefer (and wish) that movies be released in. The device that records and plays them doesn't have moving parts, and the device that has the movies on them doesn't move either. This means that it takes much longer for everything to wear out.
Q: Can I still connect other devices that play and record movies to the decoder boxes??
A: Yes!! There might be more than one way, but this is how I have connected everything:
You can connect the TV with any type of cable. If the TV can take the yellow, red, and white AV cables, you can connect through that. Or you can connect it with the black cable connector. I have done that. But everything else is connected by the yellow, red, and white AV cables on the BACK. This means that everything is tuned to "AV1", "V1", "L1", "Line 1", "Video 1", etc. If you connect anything to the FRONT of something, then that means you have to tune to the "AV2", "V2", "L2", "Line 2", etc. I connected everything to the back. I have all my devices tuned to blah, blah, blah, blah, "Video 1", etc. To get TV signals, I have to make sure everything is set that way, and NEVER select a channel with ANYthything except for the decoder box. It is similar to connecting a TV to a VCR and selecting channels with the VCR. Anyways, in case you were wondering, my devices are a stand alone VCR to record things that way, a VHS DVD combo recorder (VCRs wear out easily and I do not like stand alone DVD devices), a combo device equipped for "BluRay" silliness, and the decoder box. I am also informing you that at the end of all these connections is a laserdisc player. So as a result this means that I had to get a selector switch. If I want to watch vintage Laser Discs (aka "Giant DVDs"), I would select to "A". If I want to watch TV channels, I would select the switch to "B". They do have ABCD switches available, so if you have a television that does not have multiple red-yellow-white AV cable outlets to stick other things like video game consoles into, then perhaps one of them can go into the "C" slot and another can go into the "D" slot... Only one of my TVs has a built in "Line 1" and "Line 2" etc. channel feature.
Q: Do you plan on getting any newer ("flat") TVs??:
A: Someday, but not now. I am happy with my 4 boring not-flat CRT TVs. I have LCD monitors for desktop computers, and any notebook computers wouldn't have CRT monitors, so when it comes to desktop computers and all the space that they take, a 22" CRT monitor would be very large and very heavy so of course I would get "Flat" monitors for computer systems, but for now I won't be getting any LCD or LED LCD or Plasma TVs. I can't even tell the difference between LCD, LED LCD, and Plasma anyways!!
Q: If I do not get channels from a cable or satellite service, What kind of antenna do I need??
A: I would think that any ordinary antenna would work, even rabbit ears assisted with foil covered wire coat hangers would work. However, I do receive stations through an over the air decoder box, and I am also letting you know that ALL of them are UHF. Not every antenna is equipped to get UHF signals. Most designs that have UHF signals have a wire almost in the shape of a circle or loop in front of the "rabbit ears". There are also all kinds of other silly designs to pick from. Some of them look like decorative artwork. They can look like paintings and hand made crafts. No, I am not kidding. You can also manufacture them yourself. Once again, I am not making that up. However, If you have picked up more over the air channels on a clear night than you normally receive, you are probably desiring a larger antenna that can connect to all of your televisions. I am going do to that soon. Perhaps you would also like to get a rooftop antenna. You can also install them elsewhere, such as in attics or attic lofts or attic crawlspaces. They too also have a few new designs. They are also smaller and more efficient, and more and more of them are motorized. You might also get a gigantic satellite dish to assist the signal strength. I do not know much about these. I think they are called "C-Band" Satellite Dishes...
Q: Do these over the air decoder boxes cost anything??
Q: How Much??
A: Only a one time purchase of up to around $100.00USD each. You can get discount coupons (they look like red cards) and two of them are available per household. While these coupons are available, they provide a $40.00USD reduction for each box. Some of them cost very little after the use of the discount coupon from even as low as a few cents!!
Q: Can over the air decoder boxes be purchased online??
Q: ...With a coupon??
A: Yes. But be sure you know if they take them or not. Some online retailers do not accept them. You should email them if you need to know and if they don't have them in FAQ pages.
I also added some websites that are related to the "DTV" transition, and where you can also purchase a decoder box.
I posted them right here just in case the links capsule is not saving the links.