First DTV converter boxes get federal approval

Digital Stream Technology, a Korea-based electronics manufacturer, has received federal government approval for its $70 DTV converter box set for delivery early next year.

Approval by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) allows the DigitalSTREAM D2A1D10 and DigitalSTREAM D2A1D20 models to qualify for purchase with the government’s $40 discount coupon.

Each model measures 7.6in x 4.1in x 1.3in and supports all 18 ATSC DTV formats. The converters meet all of NTIA’s CECB requirements, are RoHS compliant, and exceed Energy Star requirements.

Though not yet approved by the NTIA, RCA demonstrated its DTA800 DTV converter box last week. The Thomson brand also launched, a Web site that shows consumers how to prepare for the DTV transition. The site offers instructions on how to use a DTV converter box to avoid having to make a major purchase of new television equipment.

“If your analog television is working fine, there's no reason to junk it and buy a digital TV right away,” RCA told consumers. With the converters, viewers now watching over-the-air TV on analog sets can continue watching after TV stations switch to digital broadcasting on Feb. 17, 2009.

NTIA also announced that the Radio Shack electronics retail chain has agreed to participate in the coupon program and that various government agencies including the Veteran’s Administration and Department of Agriculture will help distribute converter box coupons.