Are you ready for 2/17/2009?


Are you ready for February 17th, 2009? That’s the date when all full-power broadcasters will be required to convert all of their programming to DTV (Digital TV) and will no longer broadcast analog signals. As a result, to receive TV programming, some consumers will need to make changes in some of the equipment they currently use. If you’re not ready for the switch, you might be interested in some help that Best Buy is providing. They have made several resources available to help people understand what’s happening with this transition. Here is some background…

-Beginning in early 2006, Best Buy began providing consumers with in-store and online information about the DTV broadcast transition including brochures and a dedicated page at

-In October 2007, Best Buy was the first CE retailer to exit the analog business, pulling all analog tuner products from store shelves.

-Best Buy has launched a dedicated hotline – 877-BBY-DTV9 – where consumers can call and speak with a trained home theater specialist to ask questions about the DTV transition and to learn about their options to get ready for the switch.

-Customers will also be able to redeem their DTV coupons and order converter boxes through this hotline if they are unable to get to a Best Buy store.

-Best Buy store employees across the U.S. have received training on the DTV broadcast transition and the options available to consumers. Store employees in positions that are most likely to assist consumers with DTV broadcast transition inquiries have participated in an additional series of in-depth training sessions since June 2007.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • obscurestooge April 3, 2008, 12:16 pm

    My coupons (actually more like a gift card) from the gubmint came in the mail just the other day. Has anybody actually bought one of the converter boxes yet? I’m curious how they work. I want to pick one up one to see how well it works with my roof-top antenna, before I invest in a new HDTV set.

  • Rob Tillotson April 3, 2008, 1:53 pm

    I haven’t actually used any of the boxes they’re selling now, but I have used an ATSC USB stick for my Mac, and I’m pretty impressed with the range and quality of ATSC compared to analog. I live in a somewhat rural area, and most analog locals are pretty much unwatchable without an outdoor antenna, and even then a couple of them are quite weak. But with an ATSC tuner and a non-amplified antenna in a window, I get all but two of them (the ones which are on the highest frequencies) without signal loss. Since you already have an outdoor antenna, I predict pretty good results for you.

    I’d expect the quality to be comparable to digital cable or satellite. On my LCD, programs in 480p are actually a bit better than my dish, but I’m not sure you’d see the difference on a typical analog CRT TV.

    One side benefit of this, too, is that some of the locals are already running multiple streams. Most of them just use the second stream for weather coverage or something like that, but the local PBS station actually runs different programming on their second stream so, for example, they can have kids programming all day while still running a full schedule of HD.

  • Rob Tillotson April 3, 2008, 1:54 pm

    Also I’d like to mention that the coupons expire, so for anyone out there who hasn’t gotten theirs yet and isn’t in a hurry, it might be worth waiting a while to see if more and better models of converter boxes appear later in the year.

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