Where Is the Digital TV Tuner?

Old television on stand, in front of curtain
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If you bought your TV after March 2007, it probably has a built-in digital tuner, although a few TVs were sold after that date without them. The digital TV tuner is a critical piece in your television's ability to receive a digital signal. All over-the-air broadcasts in the U.S. have been digital since 2009, so to watch TV, you need a TV set with a built-in digital tuner or an external digital converter box.

 

Digital signals from cable and satellite companies are scrambled and require a tuner provided by the cable or satellite company in order to see them. In contrast, digital TV signals from broadcast TV stations are not encrypted and can be processed by your TV tuner.

Where Is the Digital TV Tuner?

When you are watching broadcast digital TV signals on an analog TV, the digital TV tuner is in the DTV converter box.

When you are watching broadcast digital TV signals on a digital or high-definition television, then the digital tuner is inside the TV. The only exception occurs if your digital TV is actually a digital monitor—there is a difference.

For cable and satellite subscribers, the digital TV tuner is in the set-top box that your provider gave you unless you are one of the few people who use a CableCard. Then the tuner is the CableCard.

How to Tell if Your Older TV Has a Built-in Digital TV Tuner

If you aren't sure if your TV has a tuner, there are a few ways you can find out.

  • Check the owner's manual that came with your TV. 
  • Look on the front and back of the TV for a marking that indicates a digital tuner. It may say ATSC, DTV, HDTV, Digital Ready, HD Ready, Digital Tuner, Digital Receiver, Digital Tuner Built-in or Integrated Digital Tuner. Any of these is an indication that the TV has a built-in digital tuner. 
  • Locate the model number of the TV and check the specifications at the manufacturer's website.
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