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Latest Digital TV Transition Hiccup: Not Enough Converter Boxes

from the best-laid-plans dept

The transition from analog to digital TV has turned into a real mess, thanks to the bungled converter-box coupon program, but also because of the ham-fisted way in which the delay of the transition's been handled. Earlier in the week, it seemed things might be getting back on track as the coupons started flowing again, but today we come to find out that officials are now worried about a shortage of boxes. You'd think somebody might have looked into the supply situation earlier, but hey, apparently it didn't really matter as long as there weren't any coupons. Once again, this illustrates how poorly the government has managed this situation. The coupon plan has been flawed from the outset, and if the government was so concerned about the supply of boxes, it should have taken steps to ensure it would be sufficient long ago. Stay tuned for another delay...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold's former #5 fan, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 1:28pm

    I so can't wait for the day that government runs all health care in this country, given how well they run things that are far simpler.

     

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  2.  
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    Freedom, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 2:05pm

    What a joke!

    This isn't my America. We have turned into a bunch of whining, lazy-a** welfare recipients.

    Really, when did getting TV become a right? If you can't get your OTA-TV then you just need to deal with it. If you can't afford the $100 to $500 for either a converter box or new TV, then maybe your a** should be out looking for a job and doing some extra work instead of sitting in front of the idiot box all day.

    This whole converter coupon program is nothing but 100% socialism.

    We have to stop trying to ensure that no one ever experiences some sort of hardship - it is these challenges that make us and give meaning to our lives. How easy has our life become when we can't even handle the "pain" of losing TV for a bit until we can get a new set/converter box on our own?

    Good grief - what up America!!!

    Freedom

     

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  3.  
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    some old guy, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 2:12pm

    Re: What a joke!

    Really, when did getting TV become a right?

    When our taxes paid for it, you ignoramus.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 2:17pm

    Again, why does this require a Government Subsidy?

    When demand outstrips supply, there is little need to provide a subsidy.

    Plus, when the price of converter boxes are kept artificially high, there is no market need to lower the cost of converter boxes while they are subsidized with tax dollars.

    Do you really think there is $80 worth of technology in these boxes? Heck no! The technology sells itself, and those who didn't buy a box, probably don't deserve to watch TV.

     

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  5.  
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    pr, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    Wasted coupons

    How many people didn't need a coupon, but since it didn't cost anything they got one anyway just to jack the system around?

    I can think of one.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold's former #5 fan, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 2:26pm

    Re: What a joke!

    Really, when did getting TV become a right?

    When government felt the need to distract the masses from the man behind the curtain. People caught up in who got booted on American Idol don't worry about federal budgets that our grandchildren will still be paying off.

    Remember the one about the frog that gets boiled to death because the water is heated up slowly? What you didn't know is that the frog was watching TV the entire time.

     

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  7.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 2:28pm

    The switch to DTV has been a long time coming. I think that the current economic crisis may have shifted the numbers a bit on the numbers of people they expected to keep their old TVs. I am suspecting that they figured more people would just buy new TVs (especially christmas 2008) and instead people didn't buy this year, and instead are going to hang onto their old TVs for another year.

    It is also not clear from the story if there is in fact a shortage, just the potential for one if the redemption levels remain as high as they have been - at 60% redemption, they are short. At 50% redemption, they are fine.

    So it's a "maybe - possibly" situation, nothing more at this point. The manufactures are right too, there is no money to be made in set top boxes after that point, so why bother?

     

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  8.  
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    Ayn Rand, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Re: What a joke!

    No actually the fact that someone pays for it makes it not a right but rather a handout. A right is something you are allowed to do or something that prevents others from doing things to you. There is no mention of so called positive claim rights anywhere in the Constitution or any other founding frameworks of this country. Maybe according to the UN this is a right but until the guys in blue helmets run this country it is still a luxury and not a right.

     

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  9.  
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    Tgeigs, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 2:44pm

    ELF wave effects on the spectrum

    We know the story behind the switch to DTV is partly improved quality, but mostly it frees up the electro-magnetic spectrum. Does anyone know the amount of the spectrum used by ELF waves that the Navy uses for comm equipment?

     

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  10.  
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    Scott, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 2:57pm

    Shortage????

    Oddly enough, almost everywhere I go that has TVs for sale (including the grocery stores, now) there are at least a couple of pallets of converter boxes sitting in the aisle. I'm not sure where the shortage idea came from.

    Sounds like spin to me.

    The price of the converters is more in the $50 range here in Atlanta.

     

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  11.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    Re:

    Comments not made by me.

     

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  12.  
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    Some older guy, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 3:08pm

    Re: Re: What a joke!

    "When our taxes paid for it, you ignoramus."

    Are you serious? I was always under the impression that comercial paid for it, hench the millions of advertising dollars they compete for. If your wondering how they compete? well they more ratings they get the more comercials they get to run and get paid to run them.

     

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  13.  
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    some old guy, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 3:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: What a joke!

    Are you serious? I was always under the impression that comercial paid for it, hench the millions of advertising dollars they compete for.

    Ever hear of the FCC?

    Neither me nor the OP were referring to the content.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    JAFO, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 3:31pm

    Converter boxs

    Sounds like just another article to promote something about nothing...I was in a Best Buy in NJ last week that had 3 pallets of the damm things on the floor in front of the TV area (hundreds of 'em)....and I dont believe thats a shortage...or for that matter that they are needed in this area due to the cable and satellite saturation...its just stupid people buying them,and the Govt. should halt the coupon program by not supporting any future funds to it and NOT push the transition date any further back.

    If after the transition date takes place and your TV does'nt work than the rest of us know your from the bottom percentile...and that you need to buy a newer energy star rated digital ready tv....buy the way you'll love the picture so shut up support the economy and spend some money on something other than ramen noodles sneakers or video games.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 3:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: What a joke!

    WTF are you babbling about? Our taxes paid for damn near everything in this stupid transition except for the stations to upgrade.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    another mike, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 3:45pm

    more than one transition

    Cox Communications is converting one city to an all-digital network in the same time-frame as the government spectrum-grab and that's causing all manner of confusion.

    Here's a story from the local pet-cage liner about it. And another. And a letter from someone who's really confused and thinks the network upgrades are because of the "government conversion to HD." Angry and confused.

    In their defense, it's heaven's waiting room there so the technical literacy is about what you'd expect. When I get that gray, I'll short myself across the mains so I don't have to deal with being the only geek in the old folks' home.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 3:55pm

    Re: What a joke!

    Wow, how fucking dense can you be?

    TV became a "right" when we started paying for the enforcement of its content by the FCC.

    Maybe your ass should be out looking for another board to troll? Seriously, do you have some problem against people who may not have wanted to upgrade their more-than-adequate TV at this point in time but would still like to get their news when they get home from *gasp* work!?!? Fucking retard.

    Converter coupon = socialism!?!?

    Can I have some of what you're smoking? A huge portion of this was paid by our taxes and the rest was paid for when the FCC sold off those frequencies. That's not socialism, dweeb, that's called social services. Other examples include your highways, garbage collection and even a decent chunk of your internet.

    Seeing as how some people rely on their TV to be able to warn them of emergencies, etc. I think you need to get your own life before complaining about someone else's.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 3:56pm

    Re: Again, why does this require a Government Subsidy?

    Because the FCC chose to sell the band to private interests and that money helped pay for the converter boxes. Where have you been all this time that you missed that very glaringly obvious point?

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    ToySouljah, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 4:09pm

    Re: Shortage????

    Exactly the same here in Texas. Pallets of converter boxes so I see no shortage. The price at Best Buy was like a little over $50 for the Apex one. If this coupon thing was such a hassle why didn't they just offer have the stores give an instant discount and then be reimbursed by Uncle Sam? It would save the government money from having to print out the paper coupons and be much more efficient in getting the boxes to the people that need/want them. Of course this only works if people are honest (since it could easily be abused) and in America nowadays it seems honest people are a dying breed.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 5:19pm

    Re: What a joke!

    "... a bunch of whining, lazy-a** welfare recipients."
    " ... nothing but 100% socialism'


    Is that you Rushbo ?

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 6:31pm

    There is no particular "right" to free TV, but there is a moral obligation that comes from completely obsoleting everyone's receiving equipment that they have invested in.

    For a certain segment of the population, over the air is the only way they get TV. In order to make the transition to digital work out (I would say quickly, but it has taken forever), the government agreed to support a program to help those people who could not afford or desire to move to new receivers to still be able to receive what they received before when they made the investment in their existing TV.

    Remember when TV went from black and white to color? black and white TVs still worked without issue, and the color standard was actually watered down at that point so that the signals were backwards compatible. It wasn't possible this time, so this is the solution.

    It is nothing more than an attmept by the government to move TV to new frequencies while not affecting the population. The cost of that is converter boxes.

    Talking about "rights" and "whining, lazy-a** welfare recipients" misses why this is happening.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 7:39pm

    I dont see why anyone would expect the continued existence of things like tornado alerts broadcast on tv and radio.
    Damn socialists, why cant you go buy your own weather station like everyone else?

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Freedom, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 10:21pm

    Re: Re: What a joke!

    >> Wow, how fucking dense can you be?

    Really, is the best argument you can make? Nice!

    >> TV became a "right" when we started paying for the enforcement of its content by the FCC.

    Just because "we" started paying for it and it is regulated by the FCC doesn't make it a right.

    >> Seriously, do you have some problem against people who may not have wanted to upgrade their more-than-adequate TV at this point in time but would still like to get their news when they get home from *gasp* work!?!?

    Yes I do in fact have a problem with people that refuse to change and think they are owed something by "the people". Your TV is no longer more-than-adequate by the very fact that it can't receive OTA ATSC signals just as my 300 baud modem is no longer more-than-adequate.

    Change is a part of life - get over it. I definitely don't think I should have to pay for the few people that refuse to keep up with the times. The decision was made that the conversion to digital signal would open up new markets and be better for our country (a surprisely smart decision by our government). Are you serious that can't absorb the real cost of a converter or a new TV? Really? Seriously, Really? You would sink so low as to take a welfare check/coupon from the government for this? You wonder why I say that America needs to wake up. The change was good for our country and the least you can do is pay the small amount to keep current if you still want OTA signals. It isn't like you are sitting in an emergency room, THIS IS JUST TV!!!!!

    >> Converter coupon = socialism!?!?

    Yes, thanks for agreeing ;)

    With everyone in the US (i.e. our government) owing over $11 trillion dollars in debt, I have a major issue with any 100% non-essential program that hands out more money. Especially for one that is for nothing more than just TV. Sure the amount is small, but ever dollar counts and we need to wake up and stop spending like their is no limit. At some point, we have to pay the creditors or face real change!

    >> Can I have some of what you're smoking?

    The only thing I'm smoking is a good case of Capalitism, independence and can-do attitude. Something that we seem to be losing more and more each day in this great country. I'm not smoking a bunch of poor is me, how dare they change something that costs me money, I need a bail-out and so on roll of crap.

    >> A huge portion of this was paid by our taxes and the rest was paid for when the FCC sold off those frequencies. That's not socialism, dweeb, that's called social services. Other examples include your highways, garbage collection and even a decent chunk of your internet.

    Socialism is defined as promoting public/state ownership and administration of goods/services and their distribution, and a society characterized by equality for all individuals.

    Sorry, but that is actually what the coupon program is. Heaven forbid someone doesn't have a TV (equality for all) - the all mighty grand TV that has become so darn important that we can't imagine someone not using one and have to make sure that not one minute passes where they can't get a signal or for what passes as news on it.

    >> Seeing as how some people rely on their TV to be able to warn them of emergencies, etc. I think you need to get your own life before complaining about someone else's.

    If getting your information (emergency or otherwise) via the TV is important to you, then you should bare that expense. Keeping current with technology is part of life. I suppose in your world if your TV breaks we should buy you a new one as well? After all, what if an emergency happened and your TV didn't work and you can't aford to buy a new. Oh the horror, how will I sleep.

    If you have so little resources that you can't afford an inexpensive converter box or new TV, you've got bigger problems to worry about and should be spending less time watching TV and work on solving your core problems. In fact, not supplying coupons would be a good way to wake up those affected to achieve something instead of sitting on their collective lard a**es on the sofa and zoning out.

    Freedom

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Freedom, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 10:36pm

    Re:

    >> There is no particular "right" to free TV, but there is a moral obligation that comes from completely obsoleting everyone's receiving equipment that they have invested in.

    TV isn't an investment, it is a product and like all products have a limited useful life.

    >> For a certain segment of the population, over the air is the only way they get TV. In order to make the transition to digital work out (I would say quickly, but it has taken forever), the government agreed to support a program to help those people who could not afford or desire to move to new receivers to still be able to receive what they received before when they made the investment in their existing TV.

    If you really can't afford a new TV or a converter box you've got bigger issues. For those true hardship cases where someone has to have TV and just can't pay for the converter box, local resources can help (family, etc.). However, getting TV is not a right. If you can pay your electrical bill, I'm assuming you can find $100 for the true cost of a converter box.

    >> Remember when TV went from black and white to color? black and white TVs still worked without issue, and the color standard was actually watered down at that point so that the signals were backwards compatible. It wasn't possible this time, so this is the solution.

    >> It is nothing more than an attmept by the government to move TV to new frequencies while not affecting the population. The cost of that is converter boxes.

    >> Talking about "rights" and "whining, lazy-a** welfare recipients" misses why this is happening.

    I fully realize the whys, I just think our mentality has changed that the government owes us and more importantly needs to take care of us. What really bothers me is that this isn't even for something that matters like getting health care and so on, it is about making sure you can watch TV. I'm sorry, but it is just TV and while a nice gesture, with $11 trillion dollars of debt and going up each day, it isn't something we can afford.

    Freedom

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    VlogHog, Mar 28th, 2009 @ 1:49am

    Does anyone who has cable notice any difference in picture quality? Any.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2009 @ 6:42am

    Last time I went to compusa they had a pallet of those things. I can't see that many people not already having switched. I difference between digital and analog off air tv is so great there should be reason to not having switched already.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2009 @ 7:12am

    "Freedom"

    You're kind of an ass aren't you.

    Hopefully you feel better now that you have vented your anger. Put down that rifle, the clock tower is not a good place for you to be right now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    pointing out your stupidity, Mar 28th, 2009 @ 7:41am

    Making a mockery of you

    No, that was not El Rushbo, Mr. Olbermann.


    I agree with the people who think this report is bunk. I work at Best Buy. Have TONS of converter boxes. I even see them at Walls-mart too. Leads me to believe that story is standard liberal garbage designed to stir up emotions and make people think they're being taken care of by the government.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Mar 28th, 2009 @ 10:27am

    Converter boxes

    I really like your posts, and like Michael you are usually "dead on", but you blew it here.
    The government issues coupons, industry provides boxes. It would be most inappropriate for government to interfere with industry, though it is quite appropriate for the government (since we can't depend on industry to say "I did a boo-boo") to comment on the shortage of boxes .
    Blaming the government for a mistake the industry made is quite inappropriate - shame on you!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Mr. Olbermann, Mar 28th, 2009 @ 10:42am

    Re: Making a mockery of you

    "No, that was not El Rushbo, Mr. Olbermann."


    Sure sounds like him to me:
    "... a bunch of whining, lazy-a** welfare recipients."
    " ... nothing but 100% socialism'

    Maybe he needs more hillbilly heroin

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Robin L. Ore, Mar 28th, 2009 @ 2:29pm

    HDTV Set Top Boxes

    I agree with the comment about the frog. One of the “sleeping giant” issues with HDTV was over 2 decades of little to no knowledge about HDTV, what it is, and what it is about. As one of the original pioneers in the industry, I have been deeply involved these issues. I find that most people are just as confused now as they were then.

    Television, telephone and other communications technologies have cost we consumers more of our wealth than we have spent on automobiles. The entertainment industry is the nations # 2 export, after aerospace. Television (and radio) is the emergency broadcasting mechanism to warn the population and give instructions in a time of emergency.

    What is being “subsidized” here is the Japanese, Chinese and Indian hardware and software industry, not America’s poor people, who should not have to pay to receive what has always been free over the air broadcasting on their investment of a TV set. It may surprise you to know that the NHK, Japan’s broadcasting company, goes to the homes of Japanese citizens every year and charges them a tax on their TV set.

    The many billions of dollars of investment by Americans in new HDTV monitors and set top boxes will go primarily to these countries and companies while the US economy worsens. We are being entertained to death.

    The software, which now includes our entertainment industry, music, movies, and other media is becoming increasingly “free” due to “stealing” of revenue to artists and distributors. The money makers are the hardware manufacturers, the exhibitors of destination entertainment such as 1st run motion pictures and the advertisers. For a time, disk rentals and home delivery of disks will be popular because the picture is better than what low bandwidth can currently provide for HDTV large screens.

    Meanwhile, contrary to popular belief, the broadcasters were partially subsidized with government interest free loans and great terms on broadcasting station HDTV “head end” equipment, mostly by the same standard affiliated hardware suppliers.

    Sony, Sony, Sony…with their fists in the air like Hitler youth in a video back in the eighties are putting spyware on your computers, buying up Hollywood and all of the money to be made is not just in TV’s. It is for cameras, for disk players, for broadcasting equipment, for cable equipment, for fiber optics equipment, and for satellites, among other lesser known items. This “system”, otherwise known as the “standard” for HDTV was not supposed to end up like this, it was supposed to benefit suppliers worldwide, including American ones.

    Our once burgeoning industry was sold to Japan and later usurped by China, in really unfair trade agreements for tobacco in the 80’s, cars and airplanes in the 90’s, and beef in the 2000’s. Now, during the next decade, we will be selling our brains, because we will be brain interfaced and completely vulnerable to attack due to an unsafe network architecture and a brainwashed public.

    For a while we will have a choice, but it won’t be long before the frog starts to boil. By then, of course, it will be too late. Hold off the transition and let them sit on their stuff. We can’t afford to pave that road for them which will benefit the oil industry to power it the most. Let’s support US entrepreneurs, like myself, in our attempts to create manufacturing jobs and industry here at home. How is that for capitalism?

    Femtobeam™
    Insight Member

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2009 @ 2:32pm

    Re: HDTV Set Top Boxes

    HDTV != digital TV transition from analog

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Hans, Mar 28th, 2009 @ 5:10pm

    Lame

    Right, blame the government because of course they're responsible for manufacturing converter boxes. And of course they're responsible for knowing exactly how many OTA televisions there are in the country, so they can provide the right number of coupons and boxes. Oh wait, if they're responsible for the boxes, then they could just avoid the coupons in the first place.

    There's plenty of things I think the government does wrong, but this attack is simply stupid. The last thing I want to waste more of my tax dollars on is someone "look[ing] into the supply situation" or "tak[ing] steps to ensure it would be sufficient" supply of boxes.

    This is the "insight" we get from the expert Carlo over at Insight Community? Wow. What a joke.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Freedom, Mar 28th, 2009 @ 8:59pm

    Re: HDTV Set Top Boxes

    >> The many billions of dollars of investment by Americans in new HDTV monitors and set top boxes

    You mentioned twice in your comments that buying a TV (or a converter box) is an investment. Another poster has mentioned the same thought as well. Do you folks really believe that buying a TV is a investment?

    An investment to me is something that provides a reasonable chance of returning me more money than I put in and/or a dividend, etc.

    A TV (HD or otherwise) is just a consumer product, gadget, device that is at best nothing more than a depreciating asset. Like all these devices they have a limited useful live.

    I supposed in some remote definition that you could say what the TV provides you (education viewing, etc.) could be investment worthy, but the actual TV itself isn't.

    Freedom

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Ray, Mar 29th, 2009 @ 12:47am

    Still boxes at a local store here

    I wonder why some areas have a "problem" and others do not?

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Sos, Mar 29th, 2009 @ 3:50pm

    @ Freedon

    Your TV is no longer more-than-adequate by the very fact that it can't receive OTA ATSC signals just as my 300 baud modem is no longer more-than-adequate.
    Absolutely!! Another parallel... did the government hand out GSM mobiles when they killed the analogue mobile network?

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2009 @ 9:11pm

    Re: Wasted coupons

    i did

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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