Sep 09 2008

Are you buying a digital converter box?


We pay for cable TV right now, but if prices ever make a big jump it’s possible we’ll dump our service. If that happens, we’ll probably still want to get over-the-airwaves channels.

As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, television signals are switching from analog to digital in February. If you view your channels with the aid of an antenna, it won’t work after that time and you’ll need a converter box.

The government taxpayers are issuing up to two $40 coupons per household to help people pay for these boxes. You have to request a coupon by visiting this site, and it’ll expire within 90 days.

I believe Rite Aid is running a sale right now for a $40 box, which, with your coupon, would make the thing free. Other stores might have similar prices, though some seem to be in the $50-60 range.

I think I will go ahead and get my box now.

Our main TV has cable, but we have another set that does not. With the box, I’ll be able to watch some channels. And, if we cut our cable at some point, then the box will come in handy.

What are you going to do?

Posted under Uncategorized | 19 Comments »

19 Responses to “Are you buying a digital converter box?”

  1. My husband and I have never subscribed to cable and have been using the box for a few months now. Our antenna reception was pretty fuzzy before and now the channels are crystal-clear, except when the digital signal is low (high winds, rain, etc.). Though you will still need an antenna with the box, we get several channels we didn’t get before.

  2. My city already made the switch yesterday! (We’re part of a test market.) We only have one TV in our apartment, and it’s hooked up to a cable box, so we weren’t going to bother. But you bring up a good point. What if we want to shut off our cable in the future, and the $40 coupons are no longer being issued? We might consider picking up a converter box just in case, especially since they’re so cheap or free with the coupons.

    Thanks for bringing this up! I didn’t even think about it!

    Karen’s last blog post..Being frugal doesn’t mean giving up the hobbies you love

  3. We bought our box a few months ago. We don’t subscribe to cable and don’t intend to in the near future. We now get about double the channels we did before we had the box. I got the $40 coupon and paid the rest of the amount with a gift card so it was essentially free.

    Sarah’s last blog post..It always gets worse before it gets better:

  4. Since moving into an apartment in January, my wife and I have been cable-free. Most of the shows we watch are on network TV, and when we bought 2 converter boxes (with gov. coupons) we now get the channels in crystal-clear! We moved into a house recently, so since we have a new address, we got 2 more coupons and now have boxes for each room in the house!

  5. I think we’re going to be dumping our cable very shortly. Over the summer, it dropped the only two channels we can’t get regularly. I want to get the box first, though…to feel safer.

    Oh, and did I mention that CBS comes in better when we unplug the cableness? Weird.

  6. Btw, this post was a wakeup call, so thanks!!

  7. My daughter will go away to college next year (God willing :) and I have thought about ditching the cable. We still have an analog TV, so we will need a converter box. Sounds like a great idea to go ahead and get the box now. Thanks!

    john b’s last blog post..Uncle Sam To Take Over Fannie and Freddie

  8. Hmm, I’m not sure how this is going to impact us and if there’s any difference because we’re in Canada.

    I know we only get one channel (CBC) at our rural home via antenna (all our neighbours have satellite and there is no cable in our area).

    I wonder if a box would help us to at least get that one channel clearly. (Right now it’s often in B & W or has “snow” in the background.)

    At our city place we share cable with my daughter and son-in-law and it’s a safe bet they will *always* have digital cable.

  9. I’m a lurker… love your blog.

    I have two of these already. Paid for satellite for far too long and far too much when 95% of what we watched was on broadcast tv. Walmart has them for under 50, making them less than 10 with the coupon/card. We get three times as many channels (and if I understand right.. we should get more as Feb approaches) and the picture is incredible, even better than the locals with DishNetwork

    Tara’s last blog post..It’s time to get up already?

  10. Wow, Kacie, I never thought about this. We are dedicated cable users so I just assumed we shouldn’t get a box. But what if that should change in the future? Maybe we should invest in a box just in case. I am going to have to talk to the old man about this.

    Dani’s last blog post..Pennies from Heaven

  11. With the coupons the boxes were only $10 each here, so I picked up one.

    We have one digital tv and one analog tv. We still have basic cable, but if they up the price, we are going to cable.

    Weird thing, when we bought our house, the old TV tower was something that I wished was gone, now I am glad it is there.

  12. I do not have cable and never have. Instead I went out and bought a 42 in LCD television. I now FEEL like I have cable with all the EXTRA FREE digital stations that I get.

  13. We don’t have cable right now, so we use the box. With the analog antenna, the reception was quite fuzzy, and it’s crystal clear with the digital box…and you get extra channels. Like a previous poster stated, sometimes, the reception can skip a bit during inclement weather. All in all, I think the digital signal is great!

  14. I forgot about them switching this February so thanks for the heads up and for this great coupon. I’m gunna go see if our Rite Aid has the box for $40 (or free after the rebate). Also since my husband and I do not have cable since its expensive and a distraction, we Netflix all our TV shows which I really like better since I can watch them start to finish and with no commercials, just a thought if you decide to stop getting cable.

  15. I second Ira – we Netflix everything. We turned off Cable in January and are happy it’s gone.

    We will be getting the converter – it’s the only way we can hope to see NFL games (CFL we can watch, live, on ESPN.)

  16. We don’t subscribe to cable (we do netflix, instead) but we’ve gotten a coupon and are trying to find a converter box. The problem is that the stores are always out of the cheaper boxes (the ones that will be free or $10 with the coupon). We don’t want to pay $40 or $50 in addition to our coupon. The fact is that we haven’t turned on our tv to watch it since we got rid of cable. But I wanted to have a box so that we would have the option in the future.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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