How To Choose The Best TV Converter Box?

How much do most Converter Boxes cost?
They generally cost between $40-$60 but can be well over $100 if you buy a top of the line converter. If you use a coupon from the government sponsored program you can get $40 off and reduce the cost to roughly $10-$30. Unless you want a bunch of extra features that are necessary there is no reason to get a box over $60 at the absolute most. In fact, most of the top rated boxes sell for just $40-$50.

When will converter boxes be available for sale?
TV converter boxes began being sold at government approved retail stores at the beginning of 2008. When shopping for one it is best to check with the retailer by phone before making a trip to the store. In a lot of instances it will probably be better to purchase yours online and there seem to be better prices and a much better selection.

What does it mean when you hear that a box is "eligible"?
"Eligible" means that the box can be purchased by using the governments $40 off coupon that they are offering to all Americans (while funding lasts). For a box to be eligible it must meet certain performance standards that have been set by the NTIA. Click here to see a list of all eligible boxes. The list is very long and as you can see there are many different manufactures that produce eligible converter boxes.

How big are most boxes?
Generally they are about the size of a medium sized hardback book and should fit on your entertainment system shelves or on top of your TV. There are some bulkier ones but they come with no added advantage so you might as well get one that is small and compact.

What features are the most important?
When buying a box you want to make sure you get one that has very good ratings for both pictures and sound quality. These are very important. A lot of boxes are lacking analog pass through which is very important. Certain low power stations aren't required to make the transition for several more  years and without the pass-through function you will lose these channels. You also want to look for  box that is from a reputable brand so you know it will stand the test of time. Finally, if it's important to you, you should find one of the ones that comes with a top notch programming guide.

How can I find a box that all of what I'm looking for?
You best bet is to check reviews of the top rated boxes. Here you can get detailed information and be sure to get the box that is best for you.

If I get a TV converter box will I have to have someone come to my home to install it?
Having someone come to install your box shouldn't be necessary. Installation of your digital box should be very easy if you simply use the owner's manual that comes with your purchase. If you are having problems with your new box you should call the manufacturer about it. Do not call the NTIA or the government about it because they will not provide any technical support.

Can I use converter box in conjunction with my cable box?
No! Digital converter boxes only work with free over-the-air digital broadcasts and are not compatible with cable or satellite. However if you have cable or satellite you should be able to continue using your analog TV without doing anything.

If I have a small handheld television will it work after February 17th, 2009?
Nearly all, if not all, hand held televisions run off of the old analog signals so they will not work after the transition. Unfortunately, at this time there is no converter on the market that will work with a small analog TV. Your hand held TV will most likely become obsolete and worthless.

Can I begin using my box today or will I have to wait until after the broadcasting transition on February 17th, 2009?
Once you purchase your converter you can begin using it immediately. Most large television stations are already broadcasting in both analog and digital so using your box today should help you enjoy its benefits immediately. Switching should allow you to get a clearer picture and receive more channels.

Will a digital box allow me to get High-Definition TV (HDTV)?
No. Older analog television are unable to display HDTV type pictures. Currently there is no such thing as a HDTV converter box that allows someone to watch HDTV on their older analog TV. If you want to get HDTV you will need to upgrade to a new television.