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DTV Debacle Part 1

Generally I get my television from DVDs and the internet. There aren't a lot of shows I watch. For the price of a cable/satellite package including everything I wanted, I could just get it all on DVD a little later (but instead I'm a bit more frugal, borrowing a lot of it for free).

Nonetheless, the idea of our TVs being unable to process the TV signals next February when broadcasters switch to digital was still a little disturbing. And the government had a program to help people like me get converter boxes. If you have two TV sets in need, you can get two $40 coupons to put towards two converter boxes.

Since the program had limited funds, consumers were encouraged to apply for coupons ASAP, since eventually they would have to stop issuing coupons due to lack of funds. It was expected that by early this year, there would be many converter boxes on the market, a lot of them at a price near $40 to be nearly free with the coupon, with others more expensive if they had a lot of special extras.

So, some time ago, late last winter I think, I applied for our two coupons. In late April, they arrived. They are good for 90 days from issue and will expire next Monday, July 28.

When I got the coupons, I looked into converter boxes on the internet, reading reviews. There didn't seem to be many on the market yet, and the cheap ones were closer to $60 than to $40. Everyone was expecting that soon, there would be converter boxes that were both cheaper and better, most notably the rumored EchoStar TR-40.

So I waited. It was always said to be coming soon. Word went around that the EchoStar had been renamed the DTVPal, and then that the price would be a bit higher. In July, the DTVPal came out, but it was not actually the EchoStar, which was delayed again into the far future. It was generally $59.99, which was the price of most converter boxes in the stores. Online the prices varied a little, but not much (not downward, anyway). It was a good converter box, but not what had been hinted at. And it was only available in a few places on the internet.

I held off as long as I could, hoping that things would improve. When I could wait no longer, I began my true quest. Continued in Part 2 Here.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 26th, 2008 02:53 pm (UTC)
I completely agree. If the cable company wants to stick it to you and force you to rent expensive boxes from them, well, they've been doing that for ages. But over-the-air television? Did the people who made this decision never see static? You can still watch something with 20% analog static, but when you hit 20% static in a compressed digital signal you are completely out of luck.

Television also serves as an early warning system. Most people at least have a cheapo ancient set they can watch. How many can afford a digital telly and a converter?

Bad decision.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


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