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DTV Debacle Part 2

(Read Part 1 Here)

Through some hunting on the government website for the converter box coupon program, I determined that there were six different participating retailers within a 2.5 mile stretch of Robert Street in West Saint Paul. I had some time to kill in that area, and two $40 coupons that expired in a few days, so I decided to go to each of these stores and see what models they sold, what the prices were like, and whether they were available.

First stop was Plaza TV and Appliance at 946 Robert, the only place that wasn't part of a large chain. The guy at the main counter immediately asked how he could help me, and I told him my situation. He said they sold one model, a Zenith, it was $59.99, and they didn't have any in stock but I could preorder one with my coupon before it expired. I told him I was going to shop around some more.

Second was Radio Shack at 1200 Robert. It was much like the previous store. I talked to a guy at the main counter, and he said they sold only one model (The TCX-9900, in this case), it was $59.99 and they didn't have any in stock. I could order one with my coupon, and they would ship it to my home. He offered free shipping, only if I ordered it from the store, not if I ordered it online.

I went right across the street to Kmart, effectively if not officially on Robert Street (set back in a shopping center). The electronics department was empty of staff, so I wandered around and found their one converter box. It was a Magnavox and it was only $49.99. However the only one on the shelf was a non-working display model. I walked back past the electronics counter, which was now staffed. I talked to the woman there, and she confirmed that they had no converter boxes in stock. I asked if they let people pre-order them, and she said no.

(The upside was, Kmart had 70page spiral notebooks on sale for 9 cents. Since I'm always looking for something to write in when my laptop's not convenient, I bought three - 2 black, 1 purple.)

After Kmart was Walmart, at 1644 Robert. I couldn't find any sign of converter boxes in the electronics department, so I waited to talk to the guy at the counter. He said that they used to have a big fancy display up, with a clock counting down to the digital switchover, but they'd never actually gotten any of the converter boxes in stock, and they'd recently taken the display down.

A little further down the street, at 1750 Robert, was Target. They actually had a display about preparing for the digital conversion (no countdown clock, though). And, they had converter boxes in stock. Stacks and stacks of Sansonic FT-300As. They also had a spot on the shelf for a GE converter box, but none in stock. Both were that magic price of $59.99. I talked to an electronics guy, and he said they were a popular item. I mentioned to him how a lot of places didn't have converter boxes in stock, as that might partially explain it. Though it was amazing to see an actual purchasable converter box and look at its specs (though it didn't say a lot on the box) I had one more place to check

Further down Robert Street, I turned left navigated by sight to the Best Buy at 1350 50th. Their converter boxes were also $59.99, and they had two models in stock. Though they had but one lone box of the Insignia NS-DXAI-APT, and big piles of the Apex DT250. One salesguy told me the main difference between the boxes was that the Apex had s-video out. Then another salesguy told me none of the converter boxes were very different from each other. I mentioned the reviews I'd been reading and the fact that some produced a better picture than others. He shrugged it off and asked if I'd seen much difference in price. I said, "not in any that were actually in stock".

I said I might come back the next day and he felt the need to inform me that he wasn't working for commission.

None of the models I encountered were ones I'd considered buying in my internet research. There had been four models that stood out in my review-reading as being good quality and decent price, and they were nowhere to be seen in the major real-world retailers, not even on back-order. Information on converter boxes is skimpy and poorly organized. I couldn't track down reviews of everything in one place.

My next step will be to look up information on the models I found in the stores, see if they're worth buying, and if so find out if they're cheaper in the store or on the internet (not forgetting shipping charges). And compare them with good models that are apparently only available on the internet. This process is documented in Part 3 Here.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
purplesquirrel
Jul. 26th, 2008 06:23 am (UTC)
Damn. All this hassle doesn't seem worthwhile. May as well just swear off TV altogether.
darkknight9
Jul. 26th, 2008 07:04 am (UTC)
(The upside was, Kmart had 70page spiral notebooks on sale for 9 cents. Since I'm always looking for something to write in when my laptop's not convenient, I bought three - 2 black, 1 purple.)

I'm glad I'm not the only addict of those old spiral notebooks! :D

As for the digital transition, I'll say it again: I've never been happier to be addicted to hockey on the TV. It makes us gets the cables preciousssss

lol!
soylentmean
Jul. 26th, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
The only good DTV tuner I know of (which we have, and is not dreadful) is the Samsung DTB-H260F... but it's spendy.

There's not much in the way of good stuff out there, and the cheap stuff has terrible tuning capabilities.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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