RCA Will Be There When Analog TV Goes Black

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If you’re like me, nothing beats the snuggly feeling of cuddling up in a room with your trusty old cathode-ray tube television. You know, the good one in the big wooden cabinet which can tune to thirteen separate channels, and on a good day can pull in that UHF station from the next town over if you jiggle the antenna a little bit. Ah, the smell of ozone! And you know, there’s no way you’re gonna get one of those newfangled flat screen things into that custom cabinet.

But there’s a problem: the Department of Commerce has declared February 17, 2009, as the Day Analog TV Will Die. Television broadcasters will be mandated to shut down their terrestrial broadcasts and give up that precious frequency space to digital television and a host of other applications, including improved emergency response services. But your trusty old Boob Tube—and an estimated 20 to 70 million other existing analog televisions in the United States—aren’t going to be able to tune into the newfangled digital transmission services. This means millions of people will be out of luck on February 17, 2009.

Never fear: venerable electronics maker RCA is already hard at work, and will have your back with its DTA800 digital television receiver. The DTA800 is designed to serve as a set-top box which can be used with traditional analog televisions to tune into new digital broadcasts. The DTA800 sports an antenna input, analog outputs for your old-style TV, and (naturally) digital-to-analog conversion circuitry. Also on board: the capability to display onscreen program information from broadcasters, parental controls, closed captioning.

To ease the transition to digital television, the Federal government plans to offer households up to two $40 coupons to defray the purchase of digital-to-analog converter boxes like the DTA800. The coupons should start to become available in January 2008; they’ll be good for three months after they’re issued.

"We anticipate a market for several million Digital TV Adapters," said Dan Collishaw, COO of Thomson’s Americas Audio/Video business. "The RCA DTA800 will be the ideal resource for consumers who want to keep watching their old TV set—either in the main entertainment room or another room in the home. And now that the final eligibility requirements have been made public, we’re ready to meet the demand from our retail customers."