The quest for a DTV converter box

We've had digital TV tuners for years, but for many there's a lot of anxiety associated with trying to ensure you're ready for the analog shutoff. So to do our part in helping to make the digital transition a success -- and to get some much needed cred' with the mother-in-law -- we set out on a quest for a DTV converter box.

Finding a DTV converter box that is eligible for the $40 voucher is pretty easy, in fact, in almost every place we looked, we found 'em. The problem is that the voucher is only for $40 and since those who actually need one in the first place are too cheap frugal to pay for cable or buy a new TV, every penny counts.

We started off at the newest addition to the community, Best Buy. After searching around a bit, a nice blue shirt finally pointed us to a fairly large stack of Insignia DTV converter boxes in a place we might not have ever found them. Unfortunately this was the only type BB had, and the price was $59.99, which would make our cut $19. The employees knew what the deal was, and made sure we didn't have cable or anything and there was also plenty of literature about the transition nearby.

Not happy with the price, we headed across the street to the big red plug and on an end cap in the back we found a much smaller stack of Zenith boxes without a price tag. After we hunted down a red-shirt we learned that the price was suspiciously exactly the same as across the street, but unlike Circuit's competitors no one cared if we actually needed the little black box.

Searching for the best deal, we headed next door to Tar-zhay (read: Target), only to find that no one there was ready for the transition and not only did no one know what we were talking about, but no DTV boxes were anywhere to be found, so we were off. We were on our way to Wal-Mart when we spotted a Radio Shack, so we stopped by to find a Digital Stream -- yeah we never heard of it either -- for, you guessed it, $59.99. Again, we were impressed that the employees qualified us by asking if we had cable, nice.

At this point, most would've called it a day and gave up on trying to save a few bucks, but not us, so off to Wally World we went. After braving the terrifying parking lot for a spot and navigating the huge aisles, we found the electronics department way in the back of the store. Then shortly after, we discovered a pretty large stack of Magnavox DTV converter boxes for the low, low price of $49.87. So yes, we spent an entire Saturday afternoon to save $10.12 -- we like to think of it as 50 percent off -- an amount we could've easily saved by looking online before setting out on our adventure -- but what fun would that have been?