Consumers, get ready for switch to digital TV. This time, for real

Digital to analog converter boxes are a hot item at Target this week because of the impending deadline to prepare for the digital transition.

Starting Friday, TV channels broadcasting on an analog signal will convert to a digital signal, rendering useless analog televisions that receive channels through an antenna and aren’t connected to a digital tuner, cable or satellite. Using a converter box as an intermediary between the indoor or outdoor antenna and your television will solve the problem.

Information about the digital transition has been spread through television and radio announcements and through two informational classes at the Mesa County Central Library that combined to draw 100 people.

Still, there are homes that are not prepared for Friday’s deadline.

According to a May Nielsen Ratings survey, more than 3 million homes, or 2.7 percent of Americans with televisions, were not prepared last month for the transition. Another 9 million homes, 7.9 percent, had some televisions hooked up to cable or satellite, but were set to lose a signal on other televisions in the house.

Purchases and questions about the converter boxes have poured in since the boxes arrived at Target, said Nathan Trujillo, an employee in the electronics department.

“Interest has been pretty high, but it has been peaking at the moment with the deadline so imminent,” Trujillo said.

Sales of converter boxes have remained steady since they first appeared at the Grand Junction Best Buy store, manager Ally Epright said.

Whether people go for the converter box or scrap their analog television for a new digital TV depends on personal preference, Epright said, but only converter boxes can come at a discount from the Federal Communications Commission. The commission will offer coupons worth $40 toward the purchase of a converter box through the end of July.

Coupons expire 90 days after the day they are mailed.

More information is available at http://www.dtv.gov or 1-888-DTV-2009.

Converter boxes are available for sale at multiple electronics stores or stores with electronics departments in Grand Junction. Anyone who needs help connecting the box can call 1-888-CALL-FCC, and a Best Buy employee will come to their home to connect the box at no cost.


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