Analog TV and 2009 : let's clear something up shall we?

Mar 02 2007

digitaltv.jpgNVIDIA's DualTV MCE end of life announcement made earlier today is the first of what I'm sure are many other similar product discontinuations and/or end of life announcements. Looking around various forums that have picked up on this I see some incorrect information being spread around.

To be clear: the mandate is only about over the air analog signals. It has no effect whatsoever on cable TV.

Cable companies are very likely to keep offering analog cable packages for some time, because in 2009 that analog cable service will still be quite useful to all those people who have 'cable ready' analog tuners (like nearly all VCRs and TVs have had since the 1990s).

The impact of the analog cutoff to anyone who is a cable or satellite TV subscriber is essentially no impact at all. It will only impact the severely poor who cannot afford cable or people who just don't care to watch TV much and thus still use the ol' rabbit ears on a 13" set from 1986. For these people a voucher system will be setup to help them obtain digital TV set-top boxes that are simple ATSC tuners with analog video outputs for legacy TV users, prototypes of set-top boxes like this cost under $150, so by 2009 these should be quite cheap, especially with a voucher subsidizing the cost.

The impact to the consumer electronics market is simply that any TVs, DVRs, etc. made from this point forward must also include an ATSC tuner, the cost of adding an ATSC tuner isn't very much these days. For the HTPC world this means that any PC TV tuner made from this point forward must have an ATSC tuner in addition to the NTSC one. You'll notice ATI, AVerMedia, Hauppauge, and Vbox all had combo or hybrid NTSC/ATSC cards out in time for March 1st.

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