Good Questions: Help Me Modernize My TV

Good Questions: Help Me Modernize My TV

Oct 12, 2007

Dear AT: Home Tech,
I've gone without cable for years, but our old tv is slowly disintegrating and the rabbit ears aren't working as well as they used to. I'm thinking about upgrading to a flat screen, but I feel overwhelmed by the options. I just want something relatively small and cheap. We've gone without picture quality for so long that it doesn't seem like an issue.

And then there is the digital antenna question. What is that? Is it better than an old school antenna? Do you recommend one in particular? Can I use one with my old tv?

Thanks for any help you can offer!

Hi Mary,

When discussing cable television last week, we glossed over digital and HD tuners without much description. In your case, you should be able to purchase a digital converter box that essentially translates the digital signal from your antenna for your television. After February 2009, all television signal will be digital, and you'll have to buy a digital converter box in order for your old TV to work. The DTV Transition Coalition can provide you with all the details, including more about a $40 rebate to offset the cost of a new tuner.

But, if you're in the market for a new television (which admitedly may be the best option in the long run), the majority of new TVs are equipped with digital converters. We'll admit it, the TV options these days confound us too, with HD to LCD. We had a lot of jargon to catch up on when our parents recently asked us for a crash course in buying a new TV. Here are some invaluable cheat sheets for helping you navigate your way into uncharted territory.

CEA's TV Buying Guide
CNet's Types of TVs Crib Sheet
CNet's TV Buying Guide
Crutchfield's TV Tips

Anyone else have some tips for Mary?

Thanks for the photo, wester!

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