The National Telecommunications & Information Administration has issued its first approval of a digital-to-analog converter box, the device that will allow analog set owners to continue to watch free over-the-air broadcast TV after the national switch to digital-only broadcasting Feb. 17, 2009.
Manufacturer Digital Streams announced Friday that two models of its approved converter box will be available in stores early next year for a suggested retail price of $69.99.
The NTIA, a division of the Commerce Department division, is overseeing a federally funded program that will make available to qualified TV households coupons worth $40 toward the purchase of the converter box. The coupons will be available starting in January.
The Digital Stream boxes measure about 7 by 4 by 1.5 inches.
The company said it plans to unveil a comprehensive retailer/partner and customer-support plan for the converters, including telephone technical support for consumers.
This story on TVWeek.com generated so much reader interest and so many comments that we have given the discussion its own blog, Digital Transition Answers, led by Mary Robinson. You all know Mary better by her handle, Mary the Cat Lady, under which she has dispensed invaluable information on this comment thread. Check her blog for real-world answers to your questions about surviving the switch to digital TV signals.