Thursday, June 18, 2009

Digital Conversion Box Trouble and Your Health

For help with Television Digital Conversion, these reputable sources are recommended:

http://www.dtv.gov/
http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/digitaltv.html
Consumer Electronics Association
Ehow's list of reputable recycling options for analog televisions

A Health-Related Topic?

Why is this a health-related topic? Because I'm acquainted with some elderly individuals who want to make the digital converter work for their analog television, but who are having significant difficulty doing so, and it's REALLY stressing them out. Despite help from more technology-savy friends and relatives and numerous calls to toll-free numbers that promise help and support--they are left with less-than-optimal television reception, inconvenient use of their remote controllers, and inadequate volume control. There comes a point when frustration leads to the path of least resistance and that's where these folks are headed. They plan to discard, donate or somehow rid themselves of their analog television, complete with the newly installed converter box. Then they'll doll out precious savings to purchase a new television with a digital receiver already built-in.

Money that could be Better Spent

This topic relates to health because of the affects of the unanticipated cost of a new television with a built-in digital tuner (could be at least $450) when budgets are already strained by basic needs. If the new fully-equipped television purchase is out of the question, feeling coerced into purchasing basic cable television can add around $25 to the monthly bills ad infinitum.

Television is certainly not indispensable, and as a nation we are certainly overly-dependent on this medium of entertainment. However, it's a great tool for health education and communication of important safety and health messages. The Internet is a great substitute for television for many of us, but not every segment of the population is ready to replace TV as their main source of information and entertainment.

Living on a Budget

Sure we've known about the television digital conversion issue for at least the past year; granted it's been in the works much longer, but last summer the ominous local television. But it's been a year of financial hardship for many--and the most vulnerable among us always suffer disproportionately in an economic slump.

Living on a budget may mean forgoing the luxury of cable TV . . . struggling to make the house payment discourages purchase of a newer, digital-ready television when the old old [analog] TV "works just fine." Certainly the government made an effort to offset the consumer's cost of this change-over by offering coupons for a television converter box worth $40 to those analog television viewers who didn't subscribe to cable TV. However, the coupon didn't completely cover the cost of even the simplest converter.

For the technologically challenged, there are underlying issues that make "hooking up the converter box" beyond frustrating. It's been less than a week since the change came about, and I suspect we will be hearing more about digital conversion problems in the near future.

Pollution!

This topic is also health-related because "dumps" are going to be bulging when frustrated consumers discard (formerly perfect) televisions in order to purchase one that works well for them in this post-digital conversion age.

Gary Shapiro, CEO and president of the Consumers Electronics Association, estimated that "53% of the nation's households [would] own a digital television by the end of [2007]," and he further projected that consumers would purchase at least 70 million new digitally ready televisions by the end of 2009. So where are all of the old analog televisions going? Perhaps relegated to the attic or basement . . . or set up as a DVD/VCR "only" television . . . donated to the Salvation Army or Goodwill . . . or piling up in a landfill leaching harmful chemicals.


(It is a bit of a stretch to write about the TV digital conversion here--but I hope the links may help someone, somewhere along the line.)


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