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Are Converter Boxes Necessary With Modern TVs?

Jeff in Bainbridge, Georgia asked about getting TV channels without a converter

Cable Box

Jeff asked: “I want to know if the new TVs, if you can get your TV channels without a converter. You know how like when you used to have cable, you had a converter, then they came out with cable-ready TVs? Are the new TVs gonna be like that, so you don’t have to have a converter box. Can you elaborate on the cable companies starting to sell the converter boxes, so that you don’t have to rent them?”

 

Yes and no. Any of the HDTV panels you buy these days will have a “TV” input on them, allowing you to connect an HDTV antenna and receive the local broadcast stations, assuming those stations are within range and you get enough signal. So in that case, you don’t need a cable box, but that’s only local broadcast stations.

You can buy your own cable box right now. You have a couple of choices. You can buy a third party device like an Xbox One or PS4 game console, but that will usually require something called a CableCard, which is a small card you get from your cable provider that decodes their digital signals for your box. CableCards are supposed to be provided free of charge, according to FCC rules, so if they try and charge you a monthly fee you should complain.

You can buy a third party device like an Xbox One or PS4 game console

You can also simply buy the same cable box that the cable company wants to sell you. There are many sources for these. One aptly named website, cableboxandmodem.com, claims to offer cable boxes compatible with every provider in the US and Canada. Costs vary depending on the box needed and they will help you figure out which one will work with your provider.

So it’s not likely that you’re going to ever find an HDTV with the digital cable box built in to it, because that would make it specific to one provider OR require the use of a CableCard. There is a downside to CableCards, by the way, in that they’re one-way only. They receive and decode the content but they cannot work interactively with your cable provider. That means that any on demand or pay per view programming will not work.

We hope this helps. Let us know what you decide.

Written by Dave Graveline

Dave Graveline

Dave Graveline is the founder, Host & Executive Producer of "Into Tomorrow" in addition to being President of the Advanced Media Network".

Dave is also a trusted and familiar voice on many national commercials & narrations in addition to being an authority in consumer tech since 1994. He is also a former Police Officer and an FBI Certified Instructor.

Dave thrives on audience participation!

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