When analog television broadcasts are killed off in 2009, you’ll need a TV with a digital tuner to continue receiving free TV. (If you subscribe to satellite, cable, FiOS TV, U-verse, or any other TV subscription service, this won’t affect you at all.)

If you’re a cheapskate using rabbit ears to watch TV now, you’ll need to get yourself a digital tuner. Luckily the government is making it easy and you can now request up to two $40 vouchers per household to apply toward the cost of an OTA digital tuner. Those vouchers get mailed out in the middle of February and will expire 90 days after you receive them.

On the surface, this seems like a great idea. Until you read the fine print.

The vouchers can’t be used to purchase any set top box with HD outputs. They can only be redeemed on thirteen pre-approved STBs, all of which are strictly SD. Wonderful.

I subscribe to satellite but requested vouchers anyway. My taxes already paid for them, so I might as well take what’s mine! I pay $5 a month now for a third SD TV that I barely watch. I can switch that one to OTA and save myself $60 a year!

If you’ve been wondering what kind of reception you can expect with an antenna, plug your address into AntennaWeb and it’ll recommend the best style of antenna for you based on your geography and the type of broadcasters near you.

And if you DO use rabbit ears now, don’t let the lack of HD dissuade you from getting a voucher. The all-or-nothing nature of digital TV means that you either get a crystal-clear signal or none at all. I’ve got a small indoor antenna at home to supplement my satellite service and it really is marvelous. It’s “The Future” as they say.

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