Cable-ready televisions and digital recorders offer standard viewing of shows, but they cannot take advantage of digital down-conversion technology, descrambling and other advanced features. The digital cable converter box can convert digital signals for analog televisions, descramble premium channels and record and play video recordings of favorite shows.
Conversion of Digital to Analog Signals
Broadcasters used to transmit television programming with analog technology, but in June of 2009, all companies began to broadcast digital signals exclusively. An older analog television set no longer works unless the owner installs a digital cable converter box to receive digital signals and convert them into analog signals that the sets can play.
- Consumers need to replace analog antennas with digital antennas to receive the new signals.
- People with analog televisions connect their digital antennas to their converter boxes, which connect to televisions or older video recorders.
- Most people prefer the improved picture quality and expanded choices that digital broadcasts offer.
- Converter boxes provide basic conversions, but they also perform other entertainment functions when consumers upgrade to advanced receivers.
Installing a Converter Box
Installing a converter box is fast and simple to do. Turn off the televisions, video recorders and other devices that need to be connected.
- Disconnect the antennas or coaxial cables from the devices and connect them to the appropriate outlets for “Video In” and “Antenna In” on the converter box.
- Connect a coaxial cable on the converter box to the “Video Out” connection.
- People can split the cable to go to different sets with cable splitters.
- Some converter boxes have second “Video Out” ports to connect to other devices.
- All televisions connected by cable splitters show the same channels.
Advanced Capabilities of the Digital Cable Converter Box
Digital broadcasts produce better quality and carry more information so that consumers get more choices of television programming. Carrying more data in signals assures superior audio and picture fidelity and more features for consumers to enjoy.
- Addressable digital cable converter boxes allow service providers to send coded instructions to unlock premium channels, receive feedback from customers so that they can order on-demand programming, and make other interactive features available to customers.
- Some converter boxes can record multiple channels simultaneously.
- Advanced features of converter boxes include high-definition broadcasts and the ability to stream music and pictures from the Web.
- High recording capacities allow consumers to watch television on their own schedules.
Consumer Choices for Converter Boxes
Cable companies often provide converter boxes for consumers, but they charge rental fees or require that consumers sign up for certain programming packages or long-term contracts. Third-party manufacturers increasingly share conversion codes with cable providers so that digital cable converter boxes offer DVR services, computer connections and other technologies including advanced stereo decoding, surround-sound audio and many hours of recording capacity.
New Regulations Make Converters Essential for Basic Cable Service
Regulatory changes for basic cable services now allow cable companies to scramble basic cable connections. Unfortunately, many people took advantage of cable splitters to steal service, so the Federal Communications Commission approved changes in the law to support scrambling basic cable services.
- People who have basic cable service will require a cable box to descramble the signals.
- Cable boxes allow companies to activate or disconnect service remotely so that viewers can avoid service-call charges.
- The new rules require cable companies that scramble their broadcasts to provide established customers with two free converter boxes for two years.
- Cable companies have no obligation to provide advanced equipment that is capable of recording programs or converting HD signals.
- Cable-box rentals generally run about $10 per month, so consumers can save by investing in their own compatible equipment.
- Most department and electronics stores carry converter boxes, and consumers can buy them online. Buying used boxes might afford cost savings, but consumers should avoid modified boxes.
The digital cable converter box provides many entertainment services for families including making their old analog sets last longer, offering on-demand sports, concerts and adult programming, providing multiple-channel recording abilities, and converting signals for advanced features such as high-definition programming and surround-sound audio quality. Consumers can get their boxes from their favorite manufacturers or rent them from their cable providers. Many companies might begin to scramble basic cable services, so consumers will need converter boxes to descramble the signals. Choosing an advanced converter box offers additional benefits for family entertainment and increases viewing options.