Well, we made the switch to digital tv today -- for $50! When I was in the store buying the equipment we needed, the clerk said, "So many people buy just the digital antenna, find it doesn't work, and then return it, mad." For us, it was the other way around.
TV in the USA was forced to switch to digital-only broadcasts a few years ago; here in Canada, the analog transmissions get turned off end of this month. Unlike the American government, the Canadian government has not been helpful in explaining what's happening and what needs to be done; we don't even get that subsidy the Americans got for buying converters. I found The Source's Canadian Web site the best source of information.
Some history: we have an aging CRT tv in our family room. We don't have cable; I installed a Radio Shack rotating "disc" antenna on the roof a few years ago, and we pick up six stations -- good enough for us.
After a lot of reading, I finally figured out that we needed:
- an antenna capable of receiving the digital signals
- a new tv -- or else a digital converter box to work with our old tv.
- reception. (We live in a bit of a bad area for radio and tv reception, hence the external antenna.)
I wasn't really keen on spending several hundred dollars on a new LCD tv, especially since I have a 100" projection system in the basement. I figured I would try the converter and antenna; if they did could not pick up the digital signals, then I could always return them to the store.
I bought a digital-analog converter for $50 and a powered, indoor digital antenna for $30. After making the connections (antenna -> converter -> tv), and changing the tv to Channel 3, the converter took 5-8 minutes to search for digital tv stations. It found a few (CBC, CTV, and a couple others). Wonderful!
My family was impressed with how clear the image now is. The image got clearer when I swapped the coax cable for composite signal cables.
Since the digital antenna was an indoor one, it could not pick up Global TV. I wondered if our "old" outdoor antenna would work. Since it was not so old, it might be equipped for digital.
I swapped antenna cables, and it worked! So now we get the big three Canadian tv stations, plus three or four others. I returned the indoor antenna. The clerk at the store was not impressed: "If you can't get cable, what's the point of having a tv, I always say," she remarked. Her reponse to the six stations we get was a snort.