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HD STBs are not eligible for $40 DTV vouchers

Ben Drawbaugh

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With only 412 days to go until analog TV goes dark, there are plenty of questions about the new voucher program that started yesterday. While none of the new boxes are available just yet, reading through the very long list of rules, we found something a little disappointing; any STB with HD outputs (DVI, HDMI or component) can't be purchased with the help of a $40 voucher. While we understand the government's desire to cut back on fraud -- while at the same time keeping costs down -- we can't help but think about all the early HDTV adopters that have "HD Ready" HDTVs. These people bought well before the DTV tuner mandate went into effect, and will be left out of the voucher program completely. Of course one could argue that if they could afford to be early adopters, then they don't need the hand out, but what about all those who picked up an HDTV on the secondhand market? The other interesting tidbit in the rules section is the inclusion of CEA-909, aka smart antennas. This is an antenna with a interface to the STB that allows the tuner to adjust the antenna to optimize reception. This can be very important to anyone who lives in an area where transmitters are installed in multiple locations.

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