Television and Home Theater

This page provides information about television and home theater, including audio and visual reception, recording, and display. It discusses options for receiving signals including cable and sattelite. It provides information also on home content distribution systems, and more.

You don't need cable or satellite for high-definition TV

Television reception has become a lot more complicated than in the past. All stations now broadcast in digital, and come June 12th 2009, they will cease their analog tranmissions, meaning that old televisions receiving signals over the air will no longer function without the aid of a digital converter box. Television signals can also be received through cable and satellite systems, and the consumer needs to consider all options to achive the best signal at a price point that makes sense to them.
  • VMCSatellite - offers equipment and installation for Dish Network with packages starting at around $20 per month (in March 2009).

If you live in a major city you should be able to get digital television over the air. If you are looking to set up a home theater system you probably want a high-definition television with a built in digital tuner. The Television Reception page discusses alternatives for receiving television signals in the home, including off the air reception and digital television through cable and satellite systems like Dish Network or DirectTV, plus fiber optic systems linke u-verse and fios.

If you have an older television, probably large screen if you are considering home theater, but that doesn't have a digital tuner, you will need a digital converter box for your television such as the DTT901, DTVPal, Insignia, Apex and other available boxes.

    The DTT2009.GOV site is the official US Government site for the transition and your source to obtain the $40 DTV Convert box coupons that will allow you to obtain a converter for as little as free, through $20 or $30 after applying the coupon. Through 2008 and into early 2009 you can get a DTV coupon that will save you $40 off of such a converter, which typically costs around $60 before applying the coupon.

    There have been many problems with the DTV coupon program, however. The program was intended to provide two of these coupons per household in the US that needed them. Once stations switch to digital only, scheduled for February 2009, and later extended to June 2009 (there were earlier deadlines too, but they were scrapped a long time ago), homes with old, non-digital televisions, would require such converters unless they subscribed to cable to satellite TV systems. The concern is that the poorer population would be unable to purchase these converters otherwise, and thus would lose access to TV. Funds were allocated for the program, with an expectation that the redemption rates would be low.

    The demand for the coupons turned out to be greater than anticipates, with the initial funds for the DTV coupons used up in approximately 10 months. I belive that the demand was underestimated in part because many homes with cable and satellite television only have some of their televisions hooked into cable ro Satellite because of the cost for extra televisions that might rarely be used.

    THere were also problems with many coupons not being used, especially by those that were proactive and requested the coupons right away, only to find out the the release of the lower priced converters was much later than they had been led to believe, meaning that the coupons expired before the $50 or $40 units showed up in stores.

    While the coupons still expire in 90 days, it is now possible to request new DTV coupons if your originally issues DTV coupons expired. The DTV coupons are also now being sent out using first class mail so you will not have to wait as long to receive those you do request.

    Help Setting up DTV Converters

    The FCC is looking for contractors to help consimers set up their DTV converter boxes. They are looking for contractors to help in three ways: help to set up in=home, call centers to help people who have installed a box but still have trouble using it, and walk-in centers to explain to users how to set up their boxes.

    The FCC indicates that there were problems in those parts of the country where the switch has already occured. Some of these can be handled by call centers that will remind consumer that they need to plug the box in, or to help them with scanning for available channels. The chanel lineups may change after June 12th since some frequencies will be vacated by analog transmitions and stations that wanted those frequencies for digital may then have their DTV assignment changed to the lower frequencies.

Vendors of Home Theater Equipment and Supplies

  • Smarthome provides a large collection of products for setting up your Home Theater icon.