to digital TV
By Marc Saltzman
Q: I’ve heard about the conversion of TV
broadcast signals from analog to digital in
February. Does this affect me?
A: If you receive your television broadcasts over the
air—from a rooftop antenna or the old rabbit ears—
be sure to circle February 17, 2009, on your calendar
as you’ll need to make some changes by then to continue watching TV. Don’t panic: This transition
should be a fairly painless one.
After this date, the 60-year-old analog television
transmission will end, replaced by digital-only
broadcasts, offering superior picture and sound
quality. Analog signals will be freed up for public
safety needs, such as police, ambulance and fire services, as well as auctioned off to companies offering
advanced wireless services to consumers.
So what does it all mean? If you have an analog
TV you will need to hook up to a cable or satellite
system or purchase a converter box to change the
digital signals to analog. For the latter, all U.S. households are eligible for up to two coupons worth $40
each to be used toward the purchase of up to two
digital-to-analog converter boxes. (Converter boxes
will range from $40 to $80 at retail stores.)
Cable and satellite TV subscribers will be fine
during this transition, but check with your provider
to see if and when a new set-top box is required to
receive digital broadcasts. Analog TVs will continue
to work as before with VCRs, DVD players, camcorders and gaming consoles.
Not sure if your television is a digital one? Look
at the back for labels that might contain the words
“Built-in Digital Tuner” or “DTV” or something to
that effect. If you own a high-definition television
(HDTV), it’s digital. When in doubt, contact your
television manufacturer and have your TV model
Need to replace your TV anyway? All new TVs
sold in the United States since March 2006 are
equipped with a digital tuner.
on-the-go nature of these musical devices.
In contrast to traditional headphones,
which completely cover the ears, earbuds
gently go into your ears like soft earplugs.
This enables them to be small and light
without sacrificing sound quality. They
also block out external noises.
Earbuds range from basic models to
advanced products that feature noise-canceling capabilities (and can reach
a price range of hundreds of dollars).
The noise-canceling feature is popular among air travelers—and those
who work in noisy cubicles.
Somewhere between traditional
headphones and earbuds are behind-the-head and over-the-ear headphones.
These models feature varying ways of
comfortably holding the earpiece on your ear.
Everybody has their own preference when it
comes to comfort. Headphones are no different.
Find the style that works best for you, and crank up
the volume (if it’s safe to do so). A good pair will
really make your music player come alive.
Q: I’d like to get HDTV on my computer. Can
I add equipment to do that?
Q: I’d like to make the most out of my
portable music player. What are my options
when it comes to headphones?
A: Yes! If your computer doesn’t already have a
built-in HDTV tuner, you can add one to watch
high-def television. By connecting a digital satellite
or cable box to the HDTV tuner you can access all
the channels your television can, with the added
advantage of a timer function that lets you record
TV shows to your hard drive to watch later (or burn
a disc to take elsewhere). In other words, now your
computer is a digital video recorder (DVR), too.
You can install an internal HDTV tuner, but a
more convenient option is an external HDTV tuner,
which you simply plug into an available USB port of
your laptop or desktop computer to watch TV (full
screen, or in a window when you are, say, surfing the
Net at the same time).
If the tuner also supports ATSC signals, you can
also tap into free over-the-air HDTV channels,
depending on where you live. C
electronics or computers
you purchased at
Costco? Send them to:
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
Or fax to (425) 313-6718,
or e-mail to
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
A: One of my favorite options for an iPod or an
MP3 player is an in-ear headphone, commonly
called earbuds. They’re a perfect complement to the
More in archives:
On costco.com enter“connection”
At Online Edition, search
The Costco Connection
Costco features a variety of headphones in
the warehouses and online at costco.com. Also,
the Hauppauge HDTV external tuner is available
online at costco.com. Many electronics at Costco
are backed by free technical support through
Costco Concierge services.
a leading high-tech
reporter, contributes to
more than three dozen
prominent publications, appears on radio
and TV, and is the
author of 14 books.