Five Common Gadgets That Won’t Work in February

In case you’ve been out sailing around the world without a radio or hiking the Appalachian Trail all summer and haven’t heard about the big upcoming national switch to digital television, you may not be aware that many of the electronics in your house may not work after February 17, 2009.

DTV Coupon

On the day of the switchover, TV stations will no longer transmit their analog signal that many old TV tuners use to receive programming. To make it possible to use devices that only work off the old analog signals, our government is providing a $40 coupon to help defray the cost of a DTV converter box which you can buy now for around $59.

Here’s a rundown of some devices that won’t work at all or without a converter box.

1. Portable TVs

Portable TVPortable TV   Portable TV

If you own one of those battery powered, portable TVs that you use when the power goes out, on your boat, or at the ball game and it is more than a few years old, there is an almost 100% chance it has an analog tuner and won’t work. These TVs will still work if you hook them up to a cable TV connection but that sort of defeats the purpose of these. Word is that Winegard (www.wingard.com) will offer a battery powered converter but the whole system won't be as portable as it once was.

2. Old TVs That Are Hooked Up to Antennas

Old TV   Old TV

That TV at grandma’s with the set of rabbit ears antenna on top will probably not work after February 17th. The best bet is to get the grandkids together and buy her a new 19” LCD TV with a digital tuner. You can get a decent set for around $300. It will be easier on her eyes and better for the environment too.

*note these old analog sets will most likely work with a TV converter box, which is affordable and easy to install

3. Those Old Rabbit Ears Antennas

Rabbit Ears        Digital Antenna

The new digital signals will be transmitted over the air on both the VHF and UHF bands. Rabbit ears which are tuned for VHF may work but you may need to add a UHF antenna too. You can buy antennas which are designed to receive digital signals for around $30.

*note A reader pointed out that if you are close enough to the transmitter (i.e. an urban area) your old rabbit ears antenna might be perfectly adequate to receive the digital signals coming in over VHF and UHF.

4. Multiband Radio TV Receiver

Radio    Radio
Do you have a shortwave or multiband radio in your house? If so there’s a good chance it has a TV audio receiver for “listening” to TV programs. If you use that feature a lot and want to keep using it after February 17th you’re going to have to replace the radio with a new model that receives digital TV signals.

5. Old VCRs

If you have an old VCR that you use to record different programs on different channels and you receive this over the air, you’re out of luck. Even buying a converter box won’t help since the VCR would most likely have no way of changing channels on the converter box. Your best bet would be to upgrade to a DVD recorder which you can buy for well under $200.

Retrevo's Advice

If you've been looking for an excuse to replace your old TV, the DTV switchover is as good an excuse as you're going to get. You can get an LCD HDTV set for well under $1,000. Another option is to get the converter box and move the old TV to the back bedroom and get a new HDTV set for the living room.

You'll find all the information you need to make an informed buying decision on high definition TVs along with reviews and manuals for all popular gear and gadgets like Digital Cameras, GPS, HDTV, and more.

Other articles featured in this newsletter

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Be a better informed shopper with these seven facts about HDTV

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Retrevo's gadget gurus picked out some shiny new gadgets for you including
a new laptop from Toshiba that is thinner than a MacBook Air.

Deal or No Deal?

Deal or No Deal?

A GPS with Text to Speech for under $100.

Gadget Rumors

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This week's rumors include an October 14th announcement of a MacBook Touch,
Windows Mobile 7, and more.

HDTV Product Advisor


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For associated with people, though, the vast possibilities showed by using a radio webcam make getting one very helpful. For example, office and home video surveillance is often performed lately by an invisible webcam using the captured footage fed directly for the computer. The ability to shoot live feeds of scenic views on the internet is an extremely desirable thing to be capable of perform, both for the one that posts it and people who locate the feed and are in a position to view the conditions in anywhere around the world certainly where an webcam is ready up to capture live footage. Wireless webcams may also be critical in serious situations like traffic surveillance. sex chats

TVs will still work in Feb!!!

Um. My 'old antenna based tv' will work just fine to watch DVDS or VCRs.

Who cares about broadcast TV it's all drivel anyway.

TV antennas

TV antennas will still work after Feb 09. They can be used to pick up HD or digital reception, as long as you have an ATSC tuner. So the antenna itself will still work!


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Digital Tuning

Absurd comment on the VCR's not being able to tune in digital signals.By using the Digital to analog converter ($59)
less $40 Gummint Coupon the SAME way as you would hook it up to the TV,into the "f" terminal,even off a splitter you will be able to record DIGITAL tv signals.

The problem with VCRs


You're right, a converter box will allow the VCR to record programs. The point I was making was the fact that only a couple of boxes offer a programmable timer that can change channels. Otherwise, you'll be stuck recording whatever channel the converter box is on which may or may not be a problem. I still say, it's a good excuse to upgrade to a DVD recorder.

VCR recording

What ARE those "couple of boxes" that have a programmable timer and can change channels?

The VCR Issue

Since I subscribe to a cable TV service, my analog TV will be "covered" once the Big Switch takes place. That being the case, won't my old VCR be able to record shows from any channel I receive just as it has pre-digital? I mean, doesn't the VCR simply record whatever the TV is receiving from whatever signal? And won't I still be able to record one channel while watching a different one?

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VCRs in the 21st century

I own two analog TVs, both more than 20 years old, both smaller than 23 inches. I have converter boxes on each of them already, and each box is also running through an analog VCR. They record just fine. True, you don't have all the bells and whistles, like auto channel change and programming. You say, it's a good excuse to pop two bills on a new video device. I think, in a nutshell, you have put your finger on what is wrong with this country.

I say, it's a good excuse to watch less TV. Spend the $200 on a handheld GPS instead and get off the freaking couch once in a while.


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prob. w/ VCR's and DVD player info

If you are so back in time you still don't have basic cable or satelite TV, and using a VCR to record the 5 (wow there's 5 now?) (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and the CW) They will soon be non analog channels! VCR's, like all tape play/rec devices will soon be extinct like the LPand turntables. By the way, you can get a DVD player for less than $30 new if you look for the store ads. And if you have av/audio jacks you can still plug all this stuff into that stereo/surround sound system just like your VCR is. And...just on a humorous note: If you are like my neighbor who refuses to get one of the digital converters (pay the cost of one) for your old rabbit ears, don't knock on my door cause now you can't get the Superbowl. Oh, and I like your web site.


{{smack forehead}}..

Look.. if you have a VCR hooked up to a digital cable box already, you NEVER use the VCR to change channels anyway.. you leave it set on channel 3 or 4 (whichever isn't used in your area), and use the built-in program guide your cable company feeds into your cable box to pre-set shows and movies you want to record ahead of time.. then you set the VCR's timer(s) to match..

it's really complicated so I'll explain it so even Joe the Plumber who isn't really a plumber understands it..

- you want to record Championship All-Star American Idiots two days from now at 10pm.. the program is two hours long
- shove a tape into the VCR that has at least two hours of free space on it..
- select your record mode.. SP or "Standard Play".. (which will use an entire tape at high speed / high quality, for a single two-hour recording), or EP (also known as "Extended Play"), the slow mode which can record six hours on a tape whose cardboard sleeve says "six hours".. FF or RW until you find something you can either record over, or FF to a blank area of the tape that'll hold two hours of new recording, without accidentally erasing over your favorite episodes of "Hot Babes Who Won't Give You The Time Of Day Even If You Shave Your Head and are Covered with Tattoos and Piercings".. (you, not them, although these days, it could be either or both..) ..
- if you're using a fresh, blank tape, straight out of shrink-wrap, just shove it.. into.. the.. VCR.. :) .. don't forget to take it out of the box first!..
- program the VCR's timer to start recording at DD:HH:MM and to stop recording at DD:HH:MM.. don't mess with the VCR's channel changer.. just leave it set to 3 or 4, wherever it's already set.. "But the show is on channel 199!".. yeah, it is, it doesn't matter, Einstein..

(if you don't know how to program a VCR timer, buy yourself a box of crayons and a pad of paper and just sit quietly in the corner and draw pretty pictures.. leave the high-tech stuff to people with IQs over 50..) ..

- over at the digital cable box, find Championship Idiots on the cable system's program guide and press the correct button on the box's remote to change to that program on that channel at that time.. even if it's a couple days from now.. yeah, you can do that.. no foolin'!..

Then.. magically..

At DD:HH:MM, the cable box will switch to the channel showing Championship All-Star American Idiots, and the VCR will start recording..

Wow.. pretty difficult, huh..

Ya don't NEED to tell the VCR to change channels.. just tell it when to start recording, and when to stop recording and make sure there's a tape in it with enough blank or recordable space to record what you want to record.. it doesn't matter if the VCR was made last year or ten years ago.. as long as it has co-ax inputs and programmable timers.. and I don' t know of ANY VCRs made in the last ten years that don't have those things..

Ya don't have to go buy a DVD recorder, a new $1000.00 teevee.. shave your head some more.. or anything else.. IF you already have digital cable, and your VCR is connected to your cable box with a co-ax cable, that's all ya need..

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Digital Converters

I understand why the digital standard is being adopted, but frankly I welcome the day I won't be able to watch the same biased news, the mindless "reality" shows, and the lot. I have to agree, get off the couch and do something, or read a book. But that's my choice and has been for over 20 years, so yes, I'm so back in time . . . . and glad.

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vcr's that are in a tv,

Will my VCR work that is inside my panasonic 27 in tv that is hooked up to direct tv. It does now, I just have to get up and turn it on manually.


Its 2009, people. If I was president, I would send my own version of the SS around door to door, executing people who still use VCRs for any reason whatsoever. It would help with the population explosion as well. DVD recorders are practically being given away at wal mart these days. Jump into 2001 and get yourself one LOL



Thank God Almighty that the government or anyone living in 2009 can't take my old "back in time" memories from me...at least not yet..altho that technology may arrive pretty soon!! I have stacks of VHS tapes that mean much much much, did I say MUCH? More then the 30 or 40 DVD's that I own. And as for a DVD player us brainless low IQ people can buy the stupid things all day and night on Ebay, Flea markets, Yard sales, Thrift and Consignment stores and Pawn shops up and down the streets of any city in and out of the nation. I have the VHS set up in the back because its cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter (don't ask me why.) My main PC with the fancy LCD screen and DVD player is set up in the living room because I end up falling asleep on the couch because I sometimes end up answering emails on up into the night..if I don't answer right away I get more emails asking,"what's wrong?" I also have a portable with a dying battery and can't locate the other one. I have one also on the compaq and a Sony with the works that cost $400 brand new...only I got it off Ebay and ended up receiving it as a gift. The people who gave it to me never used it because they could not figure it out. Took me 10 minutes to install the drivers and set it up. My Dad had one of those old LP 8 track tape stereo wooden players. I remember joking about it before I listened to it. I can see the attraction now...he died a couple of years ago at 84. I'm sure my younger sister threw his PRIZE POSSESSION straight into the trash. Take some advice and go back a little ways yourself when people respected each other to much to kill, steal and destroy right in the streets and not bat an eye!! My VCR will run on till it decides its to sick to keep up the pace. Watch an old movie and soften your heart a little..it won't kill you!!

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I forgot to mention that I also watch TV on my PC...altho the 2 stupid TV tuners I bought from off Ebay, do not work!! So I have an obsolete satellite key that I also purchased from Ebay and I do find a few interesting items to watch. Then I discovered that I could watch films on PBS and the discovery channel (which I love!) I also noticed movies, clips, animations and a bunch of really stupid overrated things on YOUTUBE!! How about HULU?? But I am one of the first to admit that a PC just ain't a TV!!