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April 19, 2008

DTV2009: What Is Analog Pass-Through? What's Analog Pass-Through Have To Do With My Converter Box?

static-tv.jpgWhat is analog pass-through? While first a little background. As you probably know by now, come February 17, 2009 analog television signals will be switched off for good, meaning that if you want to watch TV, your TV will need to be able to process digital signals. For a good number of us with cable or satellite subscriptions, this won't affect us in the least. But for those who aren't subscribers and only receive over-the-air (OTA) signals (think rabbit ears), we'll need to either bite the cable bullet, buy a new digital TV, or a set-top box that'll process digital TV signals in a way that can be interpreted by your analog TV so you get a picture.

But will ALL analog signals really be shut off on February 17? Not exactly. Low-power TV stations, translator stations, and Class A stations will all be able to transmit analog signals past the February deadline. These types of stations are free, OTA signals that were created for rural residents, or those in tough geographical areas with poor reception. Right now there are 7000 of these types of stations and there is no set timeline for their eventual switch to digital. For television viewers who anticipate using these types of channels, their best bet if going the set-top box route is to purchase one with analog pass-through.

By now you've probably put two and two together and answered the initial question for yourself. A digital converter box with analog pass-through is just a converter box that allows the remaining analog signals through so they can be displayed on your TV screen.

If you're not sure whether or not you're being served analog signals from these types of stations, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has a full list of them available online. If you're not keen on wading through a list of 7000 stations, there are a couple of little tricks you can use. Most low-power stations have call letters that end in -LP or have 5 characters starting with K or W followed by two numbers and two additional letters.

So how do you know if a converter box has analog pass-through? If you head over to the NTIA's list of approved converter boxes, those with analog pass-through will have an asterisk next to them, but we'll display them here to make it a little easier for you. Currently these are the approved analog pass-through boxes:

  • APEX DT250
  • Magnavox TB-100MG9
  • Philco TB100HH9
  • Philco TB150HH9
  • RCA DTA800B1
  • TATUNG TDB3001

So there you have it. Analog pass-through sounds a little technical but it's really simple. A converter box that allows analog signals through unprocessed so you can watch them on your TV has analog pass-through. Stay tuned over the next little while for reviews of all of the converter boxes featuring analog pass-through. And one more thing-make sure you order your $40 converter box coupon from the NTIA before you head out to buy one!

Read More in: Digital TV Transition 2009

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Posted by Justin Davey at April 19, 2008 7:06 AM

Recent Comments

I am confused on this Analog pass-through. I have researched it but still do not understand, if I need this or just a basic box and which one is hte best. Thank you.

Posted by: Tabby at February 19, 2009 12:33 AM

I was going to try to email you, but I can't find your contact info. I want to ask about the static tv image used on this page. Is it trademarked by you or someone else? If so, could you provide me with any information about it?

Posted by: Chad at October 10, 2008 12:07 PM
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