On February 17, 2009, all analog television broadcasting in the United States will convert to digital. Millions of households will need to either replace their televisions, sign up for cable or satellite service, or install a digital signal converter. While the Federal government has subsidized these and assured that the switch will be cheap and easy, a reporter for IEEE Spectrum radio who tries it herself finds that for her, it is neither cheap nor easy.
During several weeks when she tried to upgrade to digital, she travelled to several stores, some of which were out of stock. She had to order a converter at full price in the mail and waited several weeks for it to be delivered. The controller was more difficult to use than the one it replaced. Her analog antenna was not suitable for receiving digital signals and she had to buy and install a digital antenna. Finally, her reception was worse than with analog, although she did get some new channels. In the end, she decided that after the expense and trouble of the "painless" digital conversion, she might be better off with cable after all.
This free podcast is from our IEEE Spectrum Radio series.