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What to Do If You Have an Old Tube TV

By Brian Shim | Updated 
07/27/2020

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.

Tube TV
Tube TV

Consider These Points 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).
  • Your user experience will be much better since the tuner will be integrated with the TV.
  • 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″ widescreen HDTV, the savings from canceling 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

Mediasonic HOMEWORX HW130STB
Mediasonic HOMEWORX HW130STB

OK, if you still want to buy a digital TV converter box for your tube TV, I recommend this one:

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.

This site is not owned by any retailer or manufacturer. This is an independent review site that receives compensation from the retailer or manufacturer (at no extra cost to you) when you purchase through the affiliate links on this site. I personally test and/or research each product or service before endorsing it. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Antennas

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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Ask a Question or Tell Me Your Story

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! Note, I cannot answer individual email sent to me; please leave your questions here instead. - Brian

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As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This site is not owned by any retailer or manufacturer. This is an independent review site that receives compensation from the retailer or manufacturer (at no extra cost to you) when you purchase through the affiliate links on this site. I personally test and/or research each product or service before endorsing it.

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