Early next year, television stations will stop sending analog signals, and go totally digital.
This will free up valuable signals for more television programming and more bandwidth for cell phones, as well as for fire and police. But it means sets in 42-million households will go dark unless people take action.
If you have an analog set , you have several options-all involving money.
Consumer Reports' Gerard Catapano is looking at the least expensive option-a digital converter box. It costs $50-$70 and converts the digital signal to analog.
"The government has an assistance program to help people who need to buy a digital converter box, by offering a $40 coupon toward the purchase of the box," said Catapano. "But it's on a first-come, first-serve basis."
To get the converter box coupons, which became available January 1st, call 888-DTV-2009 or go to dtv.gov.
Another option is to buy a new television that's able to pick up digital signals, but be aware you don't need a high-definition television. What you need is a TV with a digital tuner, and you can get one for a few hundred dollars.
A third option is to buy a new DVR or DVD recorder with a digital tuner for around $200. You route signals from your antenna through the recorder and into your television.
The TV's that will be affected by the switch to all-digital are those that need an antenna to get television signals and older tvs-even one that is HD-ready, unless it has a digital tuner.