Since You Asked: Television 2.0 on sale, coupons available

I just received my "coupon" from the government to purchase a new digital TV converter box, so my screen won't go blank next February. When I searched online for the "participating" retailers, I found that the cheapest box I could find was still over $52. The coupons are for $40. I swear I heard on the radio earlier in the year that someone had them for $40, so there would be no out-of-pocket expense. Twelve dollars isn't all that much, but if I wanted to spend money on TV, I would pay for cable. Do you know of anybody offering them for the $40 amount? Thanks,

— Angela, via e-mail

First let's catch everyone up. On Feb. 17, all broadcast TV signals will switch from analog to digital. This means if your television is more than a year old, you will need a converter box to view television using "rabbit ears."

What the heck are "rabbit ears"? If you need an answer to this, you probably don't need to worry. Cable and satellite subscribers already have a converter in the box they use to view programming, although you may not be getting the "full HDTV experience" (bandwidth limitations have left some subscriber HDTV signals less than full HDTV).

If you only use your TV for video gaming or viewing VHS tapes or DVDs, you needn't worry either.

When we looked online this week, we found several brands of digital-to-analog converters available for as low as $48.49, but some of them required that you pay shipping. We found some new boxes available for less than $40 from individual sellers, but they cannot accept the government coupons.

Here's our advice: What's your rush? The best time to buy is when supply outstrips demand, and it seems that will be sometime closer to when the conversion happens, what with economies of scale and competition and obsolete inventory and all that.

We're romantic optimists here at the Since You Asked Stately Pleasure Dome, so we're actually hoping that on Feb. 17 — Conversion Day — everyone will shut off their TVs and choose real life instead of that fake stuff that is poured into our minds through the boob tube.

What? Your set doesn't have a "tube" anywhere near it? OK, here are some suggestions to replace "boob tube," most courtesy of our online readers — choose one: fat screen, pox box, digital drool, God-box, fail box, putz panel, digital dummy, not-YouTube, passive panel and death of deduction.

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