Cashing in on the Digital TV switchover

April 6, 2008

For more information visit www.dtv.gov.

If you haven’t been watching TV, you may not know about the digital TV switchover. If you have been watching TV, you may still not know what the digital switch over is or why it is important. On February 19, 2009 TV stations will longer broadcast analog TV, which people have been using these last decades. All the TV stations will switch to digital broadcasting.

The previous standard NTSC is capable of 1525 lines at 29.97 frames per second, while the new standard, ATSC is capable of up to 1080 lines at 60 frames per second. This means the pictures are more detailed with more fluid motion. Also, the information is digitally encoded, so you’re either going to see a clear picture or no picture at all if you can’t get a signal. Fortunately this means that most of us will get a clear picture. I have personally bought a TV converter box and it is definitely an improvement. You may also ask why 29.97 frames per second. The answer is because they didn’t know about color when they made the standard. Television has been long overdue for an update.

Where do I get a digital converter box?

You can get a digital converter box for your old TV at any electronics store, but you should take advantage of a government program that provides $40 vouchers for converter boxes. I was surprised when the BestBuy (BBY) employee there asked me where I got my coupon. She asked for the website, but I did not know it off hand. My receipt however had the website printed on it. You can get up to 2 coupons per household at www.dtv2009.gov. The converter box I purchased was $60, so it was $20 + tax out of pocket expense.

What is spectrum?

Electromagnetic waves come in many frequencies ranging from gamma rays to radio waves with visible light (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet aka ROYGBIV) sitting in the middle. The government regulates and licenses certain ranges of frequencies, so you don’t have different people interfering with each other. Since the analog television frequency band is no longer in use, the government auctioned it off with Verizon Wireless (VZ) and AT&T (T) among the winning bidders. One use of the extra bandwidth is to provide more wireless data services, which has also garnered the interest of Google (GOOG). This will advance the trend of mobile devices using more data services like the iPhone from Apple (AAPL).

How do I invest in the digital TV switchover?

Instead of buying a converter box, a significant amount of people will finally make the switch by buying a new HDTV. Television manufacturers are sure to sell many new televisions in the near future. A quick look at BestBuy and you’ll see television sets from Sony (SNE), Samsung (005930.KS, 005935.KS), Sharp (SHCAY.PK), LG (LPL), Insignia and others. All of these different HDTVs share some common components such as the digital TV tuner and decoder chips from Microtune (TUNE), Texas Instruments (TXN), Maxim Integrated (MXIM.PK) and Analog (ADI). Looking at a technological standpoint, Texas Instruments also provides its DLP technology in affordable rear projection screens and high end digital projectors.

There are many ways to invest in the digital television switchover, but it is hard to see who will come out ahead since there are so many players in the game


Make Most of Your Money: Amazon.com

September 5, 2007

With gas prices consistently over $2.50/gallon here in California, it makes even more sense to buy things online instead of wasting a couple of gallons of gas and time to drive to your local mall or Best Buy (BBY). One of the most popular online retailers is Amazon.com (AMZN), and that can be proven with their 2.89 billion dollars in revenue during the second quarter of 2007.

Many items qualify for free shipping as long as $25 worth of eligible products are purchased at the same time. It generally doesn’t make sense to buy a $21.99 Spider Man 3 DVD and spend an extra $2.98 in shipping cost when you can get free shipping by adding another $3.01 of eligible items to your cart. While the average customer would find it too difficult to find something that costs $3.01, and wouldn’t mind paying the miniscule shipping cost, you should be aware of filleritem.com. Simply typing in the amount that you want to fill into your Amazon order, you will get a listing of applicable items that are eligible on Amazon’s website. By doing a basic search (while unchecking the music and DVD catagories), I can get an extra small frog for $3.27 or a crystal orange jar opener for $3.49 to add to my order. You might not be able to use these items, but you can get more for your money while shopping on Amazon and use them as party favors, stocking stuffers, or find someone who would appreciate it more than you.