Confused about the converter boxes

C

cpapjack

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Dec 8, 2006
74
0
Getzville, NY
I think I am really confused. Different people tell me different things. My main tv in the family room is a 36" Toshiba Flat Screen (not flat panel) TV. It is capable of displaying an HD picture, but it does not have an HD tuner built in. So my question is this: first, are the converter boxes that are available with the $40 coupon HD tuners? And secondly, if they are, do I need an HD antenna connected to it to receive the HD signals? I currently have a 522 and a 322 and I don't want to pay the extra $10 or $20 a month for Dish's HD package.
 
Lifterguy

Lifterguy

SatelliteGuys Family
Dec 3, 2003
104
9
Pittsburgh, Pa.
No. The converter box program involving the $40 coupons is only for converter boxes that provide an SDTV signal. Boxes that output an HDTV signal are not eligible for the $40 coupon. The outputs on most of the coupon eligible converter boxes are RF, Composite, and in a few cases, S-video. To get HDTV, you would need a box with Component or HDMI outputs. But if you don't want to spend spend the money for true HDTV, you can still get a very good picture using an SDTV box. Most of the boxes will allow you to format the picture so that widescreen broadcasts fill the screen on your widescreen TV. It won't be HD, but it will probably look better than the picture you're currently getting from your 522 and 322.
You do not need a special HDTV antenna - but you will need a good antenna. How good depends on how far away the stations you are trying to recieve are located. Check AntennaWeb.org for info on digital stations in your area and antenna suggestions. I live within 20 miles of the stations I receive, and I've had good luck with the Radio Shack double bow-tie UHF indoor antenna (I'm not sure if it's still available) and the Philips compact amplified HDTV indoor/outdoor antenna sold at Walmart. All of the digital station in my area are UHF, if there are any VHF in your area, you might need a different antenna.
 
C

cpapjack

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Dec 8, 2006
74
0
Getzville, NY
No. The converter box program involving the $40 coupons is only for converter boxes that provide an SDTV signal. Boxes that output an HDTV signal are not eligible for the $40 coupon. The outputs on most of the coupon eligible converter boxes are RF, Composite, and in a few cases, S-video. To get HDTV, you would need a box with Component or HDMI outputs. But if you don't want to spend spend the money for true HDTV, you can still get a very good picture using an SDTV box. Most of the boxes will allow you to format the picture so that widescreen broadcasts fill the screen on your widescreen TV. It won't be HD, but it will probably look better than the picture you're currently getting from your 522 and 322.
You do not need a special HDTV antenna - but you will need a good antenna. How good depends on how far away the stations you are trying to recieve are located. Check AntennaWeb.org for info on digital stations in your area and antenna suggestions. I live within 20 miles of the stations I receive, and I've had good luck with the Radio Shack double bow-tie UHF indoor antenna (I'm not sure if it's still available) and the Philips compact amplified HDTV indoor/outdoor antenna sold at Walmart. All of the digital station in my area are UHF, if there are any VHF in your area, you might need a different antenna.

Awesome, thanks. This is exactly what I was looking for. I guess I need to go back to my original plan of buying an HD tuner and an antenna if I want the free OTA HD channels. Not sure if I'll still get this converter box.
 
navychop

navychop

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You might want to consider getting a DVD recorder that has a built in ATSC tuner. Then you can record something if you wish, and still feed your HDTV.

Perhaps a better bet will be the Dish TR50, when it comes out later this year (September?). It's an OTA HD DVR. Name might change between now and then. Price unknown.
 
Wescopc

Wescopc

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Look at TvFool.com to check your address for pre and post Feb 2009. Some of the DTV stations that are now UHF will be going back to VHF after the switch. You will want to get an antenna that will work both before and after.
Bob
 
S

Scroll

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jan 7, 2008
434
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That's an excellent point and something I have overlooked myself.
 
Lifterguy

Lifterguy

SatelliteGuys Family
Dec 3, 2003
104
9
Pittsburgh, Pa.

I'm not sure what you're confused about, but Scroll is refering to the point made by wescopc when he suggests you consider how your local stations are broadcasting now and after the digital TV transition date of Feb. 17, 2009. For example, I live in Pittsburgh, where many of the network stations broadcast in analog on VHF (2, 4, 11, 13). But all of those stations send out their digital signal on UHF. So a UHF only antenna works great for all of the digital stations I currently receive. But next February, when analog broadcasting ends, the FCC will allow some stations to shift their digital broadcast over to their old VHF frequency. Here in Pittsburgh, all of the major stations have elected to stay on their new UHF assignments. But checking TVFool.com as wescopc suggested was a revelation for me. Some of the stations in neighboring markets (Stubenville, Johnstown, Wheeling) will be going back to their old VHF channels. I used to get the analog broadcast from some of those stations, but I can't currently receive their UHF digital signals. But it's possible - if I have the right antenna (one setup for good UHF and VHF reception) that I might be able to get those distant stations after February of next year. So before you spend a lot of money and time installing a new antenna, check to see how stations in your area are broadcasting now - and how they'll be broadcasting after February of next year. Then you'll know whether you need a UHF or VHF antenna, or one that can do both. And don't be fooled by the "HDTV" label on the antenna box. Since most current digital broadcasts are UHF, many "HDTV" antennas are UHF only - but that might not work very well if stations in your area are VHF.
 
M

mastermesh

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 18, 2006
1,987
0
If you get a converter box, make darn sure that it has a signal meter built in to it. The Magnavox model that we bought from Walmart did not have one! Luckily the RCA model that my dad opted for did have one, so he let us swap our second box with his this weekend so that we could pick up a few more channels. It's amazing what you can do when you actually can see the signal strength in terms other than that looks fuzzy like analog had. (We went with the Magnavox since RCA had pissed off my wife with a H115A mp3 player issue - darn thing busted and stopped working about 1 week after the warantee was up, so we were sol on that one... )
 
J

John SE Texas

New Member
Jul 9, 2008
1
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Digital Stream from Radio Shack has the built in signal and a lot of other stuff like listings for the current channel. I am satisfied with this box. Cost me $19.99 plus the $40 coupon. Good luck.

Johns SE Texas
 

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