Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Winegard RCDT09A Battery Operated DTV Converter Box

The February 17th shutoff of analog television signals is rapidly approaching, and one of the few actual casualties of the conversion to digital broadcasting is going to be your battery operated analog TV. The one you depend on when the power goes out.

There are currently only a handful of 7 to 10 inch LCD TVs with ATSC tuners available. They start at around $149, and are backordered on most sites. That’s a little pricey for me, especially when compared to my current 5” Coby set that I paid $20 for at CVS. Hey, it’s good enough to catch the news during a blackout, and that’s all it’s really for. It may seem like a little thing, but in an emergency it’s essential to stay informed.

Well, someone has finally come up with a solution. Winegard has come out with a converter box that has an optional battery pack and a 12v DC converter. It’s the RCDT09A, and although it’s not rated as “best of class”, it is a very serviceable little unit that features analog pass thru and a rudimentary program guide. Check out Cnet’s review here.

According to the manufacturer’s specs, it will run for up to 18 hours on battery power (6 D cell batteries), and it qualifies for the TV converter box coupon program. You can order it at Winegard Direct for $62.99, and the site is set up to credit your $40 coupon at checkout. Cool.

While the Winegard is the perfect solution for emergencies, for a straight up powered device I’d recommend the Zenith DTT901 converter. It rates highly in all categories on ConsumerReports.org, just look down the handy comparison chart for the device with the most dots. It has excellent reception, analog pass thru, easy channel tuning, universal remote and a much better guide.

I plan on using both coupons, one on a Winegard for emergencies, and the other on a Zenith for better reception in non emergency situations, like when the cable goes out and the big game is on. We’ve got a beautiful 27” Sony Wega flat tube analog TV that isn’t going anywhere until it dies of natural causes.

Be sure to check out our DTV transition survival guide for more detailed information on how the changes will affect you, and how you can get your coupons.

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