What to Do If You Have an Old Tube TV
If you have an old tube TV like the one shown here, or a flat screen that does not have a built-in digital tuner (made before 2006, when digital tuners were mandated), you won’t be able to watch modern broadcast TV using just an antenna.
You’ll either have to buy a new TV, or buy a digital TV converter box (also called a tuner box) in order to get free TV using an antenna. Converter boxes run about $30 to $50.
Consider Before You Buy a Converter Box
The cost of new flat screen TVs has come down so much that you might want to consider just buying a new TV if you can afford to spend a little more. Here are some reasons why:
- You won’t need to buy a digital TV converter box (saving you $30-$50).
- If you get a “smart” TV, you can access subscription Internet content without having to buy a Roku/AppleTV/etc. (saving you $35-$50).
- You’ll have incredible picture quality compared to your tube TV.
- The TV will use less space, and you can hang it on a wall.
- Flat screen TVs use less energy than tube TVs of the same screen size, saving a bit of money over the long run.
- Even if you buy a Sony 40″ wide screen HDTV, the savings from cancelling cable will pay for it in less than a year.
Whatever you decide, you should make sure there are broadcast TV signals in your area before making any purchases. Enter your zip code into the Station Finder.
My Recommended TV Converter Boxes
OK, if you still want to buy a digital TV converter box for your tube TV, I recommend one of the following:
These feature analog and HDMI outputs, and DVR recording capability to a USB storage device (but if you do a lot of recording, I would recommend more refined DVR solutions).
Check out my full review of the Mediasonic HOMEWORX converter box.
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Once you have the converter box, you’ll need a broadcast TV antenna. Before buying anything, enter your zip code into the Station Finder and make sure there are signals in your area.
If there are, here are some low-cost indoor antennas that I recommend.
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If you have a question about this article, leave a comment below. I personally read and answer each one. If you want advice on TV reception, leave your zip code. I'd also love to hear how you're saving money on TV. Tell me your story! - Brian