DTV Soft Test Prompts 55,000 Help Line Calls

dell takes a slice at apple with super thin latitude z dellz closed

Remember when the United States was going to transition to digital television on February 17? Shortly after taking office the Obama administration pushed the date back to June 12, 2009 to give consumers more time to set hands on $40 vouchers aimed at defraying the cost of digital converter boxes for older analog sets—and maybe defray from injuries from people trying to climb up on roofs in the middle of ice storms to set up new antennas.

June 12 is fast approaching, so last Thursday broadcasters in 125 major television markets conducted a coordinated “soft test” of the transition to digital television by interrupted their analog broadcasts for five minutes to warn folks relying on over-the-air analog transmissions that they were not ready for the switch. And, guess what: it seems many consumers are still not ready for digital television: the FCC reports (PDF) their national help line for the DTV transition received 55,000 calls on Thursday, a single day record. On average since May 1, the line has received 15,000 calls per day.

“This soft test did exactly what it was supposed to do,” said Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps. “It was a wake-up call for consumers who are unprepared, alerting them to the fact that they need to take the necessary steps before the June 12 DTV transition.”

According to the FCC, just over half the callers asked about the availability of $40 vouchers good toward the purchase of DTV converter boxes; some 15 percent were calling about reception issued in their area, and 10 percent were calling for information on installing a digital converter system.

The Chicago area represented the largest volume of calls, accounting for 1,310 of the 55,000 calls. Next up were New York City with 1,277 calls and Dallas-Fort Worth with 764 calls.

Photography

The new HP OfficeJet Pro’s smart app cuts your time spent scanning in half

The new HP OfficeJet Pro series offers faster print speeds, but the company says a new app with shortcut options allows users to cut the time spend working on scanning files in half.
Gaming

How do the revised Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles stack up?

Microsoft's new Xbox One S and Sony's PlayStation 4 "Slim" have bucked the generational gaming console trend. But which of these stopgap systems is worth spending your paycheck on?
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our favorites, with all the features you want.
Gaming

Having issues with your PS4? Check out our solutions to its most common problems

Just because the PlayStation 4 is a remarkable system doesn't mean that it's immune to the occasional hiccup. Lucky for you, we've vetted some of the bigger PS4 problems and found solutions for whatever might ail you.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny, muffled TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video and what’s leaving in April 2019

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in March and April, from new original series to classic films.
Deals

Amazon slashes prices on TCL’s already affordable 4K Roku Smart TVs

If you're on a budget, some of the fancier models might seem way out of reach, but that doesn't mean you can't still get a solid TV at an affordable price. Amazon is dropping TCL 4K TV prices as low as $250 right now.
Home Theater

Here’s what’s new on Hulu and what’s leaving in April 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Hulu for April 2019, our personal favorites, and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on all the site has to offer -- and ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (March 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

2019 LG OLED TVs with AirPlay 2, HomeKit support coming in April

LG has revealed the prices and release dates of the first batch of 2019 OLED TVs with A.I. ThinQ. The new W9 wallpaper OLED TVs will arrive in June, while the E9 and C9 OLED TVs will start rolling out in April.
Movies & TV

These are the best movies on Hulu right now (March 2019)

From dramas to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Legion'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!