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LG digital converter box due in 2008

January 6th, 2007

If you still have a traditional analog TV, you’ll finally have low-cost access to digital broadcasts by next year. That’s when an “affordable” set-top converter box from LG Electronics will hit the U.S. market, according to a company announcement. The small box will connect to a conventional television set, allowing it to receive digitally transmitted broadcasts over the airwaves.

In anticipation of the 2009 cutoff of analog TV broadcasts, the federal government will offer coupons worth $40 toward the cost of a digital-to-analog converter box (sometimes called a “digital TV adapter”). While LG did not disclose the retail price of its box, a target price of $50 to $60 was envisioned by Congress when it approved the consumer subsidy program.

Various consumer electronics manufacturers are expected to produce converter boxes, allowing millions of old-style TVs to survive the digital transition. LG and Thomson (which sells products under the RCA brand) each developed prototype set-top boxes under a contract with two broadcasting trade groups, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Association For Maximum Service Television (MSTV). Those boxes, once scheduled for delivery by the end of last year, have yet to arrive. Meanwhile, prices on brand-new digital televisions have never been lower, with Best Buy and Circuit City both reporting strong December sales of flat-panel sets.

LG’s converter box will feature, in the company’s words, “the latest ATSC-VSB circuitry for optimum reception”—the company’s own sixth-generation chipset, presumably [UPDATE: Nope, it’s the fifth generation]—along with a simple electronic program guide (EPG) and a remote control.

• Link: press release

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