Who else besides me would get digital converter boxes for their birthday?

It’s official. I applied for my two digital converter box coupons at www.dtv2009.gov. The process was fairly simple and only took a few minutes to complete. The only part of the form that briefly delayed me was the part that made me answer this question:

Check the statement below that best describes your household:

  • All or some of the TVs in my house subscribe to one or more pay services, such as cable or satellite.
  • None of the TVs in my house subscribe to one or more pay services, such as cable or satellite.

It’s not that I didn’t know the answer to the question. Since I dumped DIRECTV a few months ago, I don’t have any TVs in my house that subscribe to any cable or satellite services so I clearly fall under the second statement. What stopped me for a minute was wondering why they are asking this question. I couldn’t help but think that, come crunch time at the end of this year or the beginning of next year, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is going to start prioritizing who gets their coupons first. My guess is that if you are antenna only, you are first priority. People with cable or satellite on some of their TVs will at least have one television with something to watch so they will take a back-burner to the antenna only people. I have nothing to back this up except a hunch.

Happy birthday to me

It will be a while before I can actually purchase my converter boxes and report back on how the whole process works. After I submitted my request I was told that my request was received but that my coupons will not be mailed out until August 22. Interestingly enough that’s my birthday. Guess I already know one present I’m getting for my birthday.

If you are wondering why I am purchasing two converter boxes when I already have two TiVo HD DVRs, the answer is simple. I have four TVs in my house. Only two of them are hooked up with a TiVo HD DVR, which has a digital tuner built-in. That leaves me with two antenna-only TVs in my house that will be all static come February 17, 2009 unless I get the converter boxes.

OK, that last statement wasn’t entirely true. There are other options besides converter boxes that I can implement to transmit my programming from my TiVo-enabled TVs to my non-TiVo-enabled TVs but let’s not let the NTIA in on that little secret. I still want to be able to put these converter boxes through some noobie tests.




  1. Kayjo Edwards

    I have already purchased my converter boxes.  I hooked one up to a small TV with rabbit ears because they were saying that I would get better reception even now and guess what…I got worse reception.  I lost one major channel (ABC) completely and several others were better without the box.  The only new channel I could find was an NBC weather channel.

    I hope things improve after Feb2009 or the whole converter box thing was a waste of money.

  2. Patric Welch

    @Kayjo Thanks for commenting. It sounds like you are still viewing the analog channels even after hooking up the converter box. For instance, if your ABC channel was channel 6, after you install the converter box, you should look for the digital version of ABC which is probably something like 6.1. With a digital picture there is no such thing as “bad reception”. You either get the picture or you don’t. It can’t be fuzzy. Best to figure out the problem now as I wouldn’t anticipate anything getting any better between now and February 17, 2009.

  3. Kayjo Edwards

    Actually, I went thru the setup procedure for the converter box, where it searched for channels and it never found an ABC channel.  Also, when I referred to worse reception, I got a few channels that were broken up – digitally – not fuzzy.  They looked pixelated and chopped (sorry, I don’t know how else to explain that).

    I guess it’s a good thing that I don’t really watch TV that much anyway!

  4. Patric Welch

    @Kayjo That makes more sense. The “broken up – digitally – not fuzzy” is what you get on digital channels when the signal isn’t strong enough to lock in. You might try going to http://www.antennaweb.org and clicking the “Choose an antenna” button. It should help you narrow down the best antenna for your location as well as how to direct it. Hopefully it’s just a matter of playing around with the antenna to get the right signal. Good luck!

  5. Ruth Wade

    I sure do not want to go back to playing with rabbit ears/antenna or whatever it will be.  I am a paying client of COMCAST.  I hope that will get me through the change. 

    Thanks for your information.

    Ruth Wade