HDTV tuner advice

There wasn’t a thread specifically on this question, so hey.

We never really watch broadcast television and don’t have cable, but for disaster scenario purposes we’d like to make sure we can get local television news. Our HDMI/VGA/DVI/Component inputs HDTV doesn’t have a tuner, so i guess I need to buy one. ATSC, right, with QAM incase we get cable some day?

Surprisingly, I can’t find a whole lot of options. Bestbuy.com lists a whopping 3 options. Am I missing something here?

If they’ve got three options, I’m impressed by the breadth of their selection. Between the fact that most TVs come with tuners and most people use cable boxes/Tivos anyway, doesn’t seem like there’d be much demand for standalone tuners.

If you don’t care about HD you can get any of the digital adapters they are pushing for the transition. Lots of options there, but otherwise most people have cable, sat or tivo so the market for HDTV tuners is minuscule.

It’s not really an “HDTV” if it doesn’t have a tuner, rather it’s a monitor. :-) If it says “TV” on it anywhere then legally it has to have a tuner from what I understand. And you don’t need anything for cable or satellite as the box they will give you does all the work.

I presume you’re talking about receiving over-the-air signals. If you don’t care about seeing things in hidef, you can apply for your free DTV converter box coupons and buy a DTV converter. Technically, they’re intended for analog TVs, but they’ll work fine with a digital set, as long as you have a composite video input. I went with the Insignia NS-DXA1-APT, which works fine so far.

If you do want to see things in hidef, you’ll need an HDTV tuner like the Samsung DTB-H260F. Note that the converter box coupons can’t be used on a hidef tuner, so you’ll end up paying full price on it. Hidef tuners have gotten scarce since all new digital TVs have been required to have one built-in for the last couple of years, IIRC, so not much of a market for them.

Just grab a zenith dtt901 and use the $40 government coupon. It should work out to around $20. Sure there is no HD ouput but for emergencies it should be all you need. Btw, anybody know where to get one of these? Seems radioshack no longer carries them. Circuity City is of course now dead.

The Insignia model I linked is just a rebadged Zenith DTT 901 (or vice versa).

Don’t forget that you will likely need an antenna.

Thanks for the heads up. I guess I’ll just go grab one of those.

You can also grab an ATI HDTV USB dongle. It will grab over the air HDTV broadcasts for your laptop or PC, if that’s something you might prefer.

Output on the OTA HDTV signals is remarkably good, though many people are preferring to purchase a separate antenna for use with it. I think it simply depends where you are living relative to the broadcast towers, so YMMV (and probably will).

Alright, I ended up going with one of those Samsung’s off Ebay. Thanks.

For what it’s worth, you might compare with the SiliconDust HD Homerun, which gives you two QAM/ATSC (but not NTSC, which I really don’t understand) tuners that connect to a LAN and can be accessed by any computer on that network to get any unencrypted broadcast. I have one that I use for recording cable broadcasts in the clear as part of my DVR setup and it’s been nothing but good so far. For a home setup, I can’t think of a better alternative, though obviously things don’t work so good if you want to take it on the road.