The “old way” refers to analog broadcasts, which will become a thing of the past when all U.S. TV stations convert to digital signals on June 12, 2009, a date established by Congress after delaying the original benchmark of Feb. 17, 2009. After that, there will be no way to retain analog signals for any purpose, emergency or not, according to the FCC.
So the best solution is to recycle your old TV and buy a new battery-powered one that is digital-capable. Radio Shack sells a digital TV with a 7-inch screen for $199.99.
If spending a couple hundred dollars isn’t an option, you can get a battery-powered converter box.
Other options, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times:
Turn your laptop into a digital TV. Small devices with a digital tuner, such as the OnAirGT from AutumnWave, plug into the USB port of a laptop and turn the computer into a TV. They sell for between $50 and $180. Advantages: Assuming you own a laptop, it’s less expensive than a portable digital TV. Disadvantages: A laptop battery lasts only a couple of hours and requires electricity to recharge.
Use alternative power to run a digital-to-analog converter box. A power inverter, which allows you to run household electronics off your car battery or a rechargeable power pack, can fire up an electric converter box attached to your battery powered analog TV. Inverters cost from $30 to $150, while power packs run about $70 to $190. Advantages: You don’t need to buy a new TV and can take advantage of the government converter box coupon program. Disadvantages: This isn’t an option with some TVs, which don’t have the separate antenna input required for a converter box.
Get a TV package for your cell phone. Verizon, AT&T and Sprint Nextel all offer packages on certain smart phones that let you watch TV, including on-demand local TV news clips from many cities. Packages start at $10 to $15 a month if you have phone service from the provider. Advantages: You might not need to buy any new equipment. Disadvantages: Not all major carriers offer live local TV, meaning most people must depend on local video clips or national network news and cable stations such as CNN for emergency information.
Click here for more information on the digital TV transition.
Date posted: June 3, 2009
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