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CostHelper > Consumer Electronics  > TV, Home Theater & Audio > Digital Converter Box

Digital Converter Box Cost


How Much Does a Digital Converter Box Cost?

 
low costWith Government Coupon (until 7/31/09): $40 Less Per Couponaverage costMedium: Start $40-$65high costHigh: Deluxe Models with Built-In DVD/DVR Features Can Run $200-$300

On June 12, 2009, all television stations in the US began transmitting only digital signals and stopped broadcasting analog ones. Because of this switch from analog to digital, over-the-air, analog television sets that are not connected via cable, satellite, or other pay TV service now require a digital-to-analog converter box. Having a digital converter box will allow an older analog television set to receive digital television picture reception from over-the-air broadcasts. The converter box is connected between the television and antenna.

Typical costs:

  • A very basic digital converter box costs around $40-$50. Models that can be had at this price range include the Artec T3A Pro ($45) and the Access HD DTA1080D[1] ($45).
  • Most boxes range from $50-$65, which may include additional features such as an audio/video output, universal remote, or a better EPG (electronic programming guide). Boxes that fall in this category include the Tivax STB-T8 ($60) and Winegard RCDT09A[2] ($60).
  • Deluxe models that may include DVD recording or video recording with DVR like capabilities range from $200-$300. The Panasonic DMR-EZ48VK ($300) is a progressive scan DVD recorder with a VHS VCR and digital tuner. The Samsung DVD-VR375 ($200) offers dual-layer DVD recording and high definition output in addition to being a digital tuner.
Related articles: High-Definition Service, Broadcast TV, Cable TV, Satellite TV, Tube TV

What should be included:
  • The digital-to-analog converter box.
  • A remote control with batteries.
  • RF (RG-6) coaxial cable to connect between the TV and converter box.
Additional costs:
  • An antenna is still required to be used with a digital converter box in order to receive digital broadcasts. Simple indoor antennas range from about $10-$60. Outdoor antennas can cost from $80 to hundreds of dollars.
  • If the box supports additional audio and video outputs, RCA stereo video cables or an SVHS cable may be used as well. These cables usually cost around $5-$10 or more depending on the length.
Discounts:
  • In order to help with the digital TV transition, the federal government set up a coupon rebate program where eligible households may apply for up to two coupons worth $40 each, though the deadline for applying was 7/31/2009.
  • Note that the DTV coupon can only be applied for certain TV Converter Boxes. These are usually indicated with the red "TV Converter Box Coupon Program" logo[3] .
  • Deluxe digital converter models are not eligible. Only basic boxes are eligible according to government rules[4] .
Shopping for a digital converter box:
  • ConsumerReports.org[5] has a list of models that they reviewed and rate in terms of picture quality. ConsumerSearch.com[6] has a smaller list as well.
  • A list of vendors online and retail store fronts can be found on dtv2009.org.
  • TIP: The DTV Coupon that is sent in the mail after one applies also includes a list of local retailers where the coupon can be used.
  • TIP: A few online retailers also offer a very basic discounted antenna as part of a promotion when buying a DTV converter box. Meritline.com and freeTVsignal.com are two stores that currently offer either discounted or free antennas with purchase.
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External Resources:
  1.  www.accesshd.tv/products/dta1080.html
  2.  www.winegard.com/dtv/dig_r.php
  3.  www.ntia.doc.gov/legacy/dtvcoupon/DTVlogo.jpg
  4.  www.ntia.doc.gov/federal-register-notice/2007/final-rule-digital-television-conver...
  5.  www.consumerreports.org/cro/electronics-computers/tvs-services/digital-tv-converte...
  6.  www.consumersearch.com/digital-converter-boxes
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