At least one manufacturer isn’t waiting any longer to warn the general public about the impending transition from analog to digital TV. RCA has just launched a new web site, http://www.keepmytv.com, which explains everything in terms that Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public can understand.
According to RCA’s press release, "Since launching KeepMyTV.com last week, RCA Audio/Video has contacted more than 100,000 RCA consumers to inform them of the new site, and hundreds have already signed up to receive more information about the completion of the nation’s switch to digital TV broadcasting in early 2009. Details of the government’s $40 coupon program, which will reduce the consumer’s cost for converter boxes, are expected to be released shortly."
100,000 visits in one week is pretty impressive traffic, although I’m not so sure that number is accurate. Given the general lack of attention to the DTV transition, that would indicate a significant portion of the U.S. population is indeed cruising the Internet, looking for help when their analog TVs go dark on 2/17/09.
The centerpiece of this new web site is RCA’s DTA800 ATSC/NTSC converter box, being tested this week in Washington DC at the NTIA and FCC. No retail price has been set yet, but the release goes on to say that the DTA800 is "designed to qualify for the federal government’s $40 coupon program." Well, if it receives ATSC signals and converts them to RF-modulated or baseband NTSC video, I guess it qualifies, doesn’t it?
The web site also provides a pair of videos. The first explains the "why" and "how" of the transition and does a very good job of it, although the host of the clip does mention early on that many American homes now have flat panel high definition televisions in their homes. This is bound to confuse more than one newbie, inasmuch as the DTA800 only provides standard definition video outputs.
The second clip explains how to hook up the DTA800 to your TV, using the RF input and output jacks. No mention is made of using the composite video and analog audio connections, but for a majority of households, the RF connection is going to be the easiest and fastest to use.
RCA, which was once a major player in HDTV sales, has become more of a video accessories company and certainly doesn’t have the market clout of Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, and other TV manufacturers these days. But it has beaten all of them to the punch with an informative, well designed and easy-to-use web site for anxious owners of analog TV sets.
Oh, and did I mention the "days remaining" indicator in the upper right corner of the home page? There’s just over 500 days until we bid bon voyage to terrestrial NTSC. Gosh, where did the time go?