Analog TV’s days are numbered

I’ve been watching digital TV signals on computers for a couple of years now, using both internal ATSC tuner cards in Windows Media Center and an external Elgato EyeTV ATSC tuner on a Mac. But I had resisted buying an actual digital television set…until a couple of days ago.

I’ve been watching the prices of digital TV sets drop in cost, especially for LCD models. At the same time, the quality of LCD televisions has risen substantially, so that they are almost on a par with plasma sets. But the real clincher for me was the growing trend to include QAM as well as ATSC digital tuners in even inexpensive sets.

Getting a set with a QAM tuner is essential if you want to be able to use a television to receive unencrypted digital signals sent over cable (or fiber optic) systems. A set with the ability to pull in QAM signals has a significant advantage over one that only has an ATSC/NTSC tuner. It seems that many set manufacturers are now including QAM tuners as standard equipment (although there are still many digital TV sets being sold that lack QAM).

Less than 600 days remain before February 17, 2009. That’s the FCC deadline for broadcasters to switch from analog to digital. Many stations already have switched to digital, and it won’t be long before analog TV will be a distant memory. It’s time to start making plans to replace analog televisions with digital sets…before they become obsolete. But if you’re looking into buying one, and you plan to use a digital cable connection, make sure to verify that the set has QAM. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

Now I’m watching for the price of sets with CableCards to come down…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.