Analog broadcast will end as of February 17, 2009. So what does that mean to you and me? Will I have to buy a new big screen HDTV? Or will I have to sign up and pay for Cable or Satellite? Am I being priced out of TV all together? Will TV just be a luxury for the rich? The short answer to all these questions is, NO.
DTV or Digital Television is only a different kind of broadcast signal. HDTV is a more refined reception and picture quality. You will only need a DTV tuner to receive the new signal. You can get the "converter" box or simply go buy a DTV somewhere. DTV is cheap, you can get a brand new one for $80 and up at Walmart. DTV's are in the same price range as any other TV. It's the HDTV that is expensive. They tend to cost from $700 and up. I was walking around Best Buy checking out the HDTV's and frankly I was underwhelmed. Bigger is not always better. I don't think the smaller HDTV's are an improvement at all over a $100 DTV at Walmart.
You do not have to sign up for cable or any other pay TV service. You do not need a special DTV antennae to pick up DTV signals. A paper clip or a coat hangar will work. It's all the same. I know and admit that cable TV is the best reception, whatever kind of TV you have, but is it a value? That's up to you. For me it's not. It's the same old line, "Gee, I have a thousand channels and there's still nothing on." Satellite TV seems to have problems with reception at times, though it is generally cheaper than cable. So while it may take a little effort to get my rabbit ears antennae just right sometimes, I won't be paying for my TV channels now or after February of next year.
I'll probably wait until the last minute and then go out and get what I think will be best for me at the time. As for now, I'm leaning towards going to Walmart and buying a new DTV for about $120. RCA, Emerson, Sony all have nice 19" DTV's on the market right now. That's all the TV I need. I don't need a HDTV the size of a wall to get the entertainment I want out of TV watching. I also think that once the official conversion date next year passes, prices for all these DTV's and HDTV's will fall dramatically. Which is why I will wait. I hope I have helped someone with this, I was wondering about it so I did some walking around.
P.S. They will practically be giving away those digital-analog converter boxes shortly too. That probably explains the expiration date on those $40 Government coupons you can send away for now.