8 Million TVs and Nothing's On

On February 17, 2009, the entire fleet of RVs, all 8 million of them, will be thrown into disarray. Campers and retirees from Happy Isles campground in Yosemite, to the Wal-Mart parking lot in Yonkers, will run into the streets in full panic mode, because the old analog TVs built into their RVs will not be able to tune into Matlock reruns. The tiny microwave will still nuke and the miniature toilets will still flush, but the TVs will show static. Yet another casualty of the switchover to DTV.

To the rescue, a number of companies are helping (ie. profiting from) anyone with an analog TV in their RV. More specifically, they are pointing out what a terrific opportunity this is to upgrade to a flat (space saving!) screen digital TV, while using your existing crank-up antenna. For modest cost, outfits such as RVDigitalTV.com will sell you an eXtreme makeover kit to upgrade to the new technology. They promise free high-def over-the-air TV programs, with no monthly subscription fees! Of course, that's what anyone with a DTV will get, but it seems more impressive when companies say it in italics.

Well, I think most RVs are smart enough to get a government coupon worth $40 toward the purchase of a converter box, and wire it into their rig; it will allow an old analog TV to receive free digital broadcasts. Or, they can simply buy a new DTV (AC or DC, whatever they are running). On the other hand, for those prone to panic, I suppose upgrade kits are a good thing.

Perhaps more interesting is the mobile DTV standard being presented by Samsung and LG Electronics. DTV was not designed for mobile reception (ie, watching TV while moving) and new technologies have been developed to allow that. If and when they are approved and implemented, then RVs will be a prime market for that new technology. I can hardly imagine the panic that will ensue. -Ken C. Pohlmann

Open Mobile Video Coalition