The DISH Network has started selling a converter box — called the DTVPal — for terrestrial television broadcasts, through a dedicated Web site at http://www.dtvpal.com/. Originally, the company had hoped to bring the converter to market at the $40 price of the US government rebate coupon, but the price has turned out to be $59.99 plus $8.95 each for shipping and handling. You can use a government coupon even if you order online, with a net cost to you of $28.94 per unit.
The DTVPal has a few nice features, including analog pass-through. This lets you receive analog broadcasts as well as digital broadcasts without changing the settings on your television. This is important now, prior to the February 17, 2009 transition date, so that you can continue to receive the existing analog broadcasts. After the transition, this feature will let you receive the low-power TV stations that do not have to switch to digital on the February cut-off date.
You can connect the box to your TV using either composite video or an antenna wire (RF) connection. If you use the antenna wire connection, you will tune your television to either Channel 3 or Channel 4 to receive the signal from the box.
There are many good converter boxes available on the market, and this would appear to be one of them. It’s interesting that DISH Network is marketing these, because satellite service subscribers won’t be affected by the transition to digital broadcasts. Many households with subscription television service — cable or satellite — often have extra televisions that are not connected to the service, so maybe DISH Network is trying to reach their customers who have such extra TV sets.