Do HDTVs Require DTV Converter Boxes?

Multiple television/computer screens stretching to
Ian McKinnell / Getty Images


Will I need a DTV Converter Box if I buy a High Definition television?

Here is a summary of the original question:

Our building has a master antenna. I was told by a TV salesperson that if I purchase a HDTV it will receive the digital signal but with our master roof antenna we will still need the converter box to see the programs in high definition. Is this true?

Also, if I purchase a new HDTV right now, over a year before the change to digital takes place, will I still get all of the current analog programs on that HDTV until June 12, 2009?



Should you buy that HDTV then you'll only need a DTV converter box if you use a VCR. The DTV Converter Box that is advertised for the DTV Coupon Program is needed only by antenna-using analog television owners that won’t buy a digital TV before June 12, 2009 – the date of the digital transition.

In a nutshell, the converter box reconfigures the digital signal to analog. You would not want this technology attached to your HDTV as it would decrease your picture quality.

Instead, if your TV has a built-in ATSC (digital) tuner, which it will likely have, then you can get your local broadcast stations in HD when using an antenna. If the TV doesn’t have a built-in digital tuner you would need an external digital tuner to use with an antenna. The external digital tuner is different from the converter box. You could use a converter box also and watch the 480p resolution.

If you must do buy a converter box then be sure it has analog pass-through just in case you have a class A, low power or translator station in your area.