Tuning into the free HDTV channels
HDTV breaks the old TV paradigm in many ways. One big difference is that not all HDTVs have a built-in TV tuner. Back in the olden days of NTSC and analog TV, this was quite rare — a few high-end TVs were “monitors” and required an external tuner, but they were definitely in the minority.
With HDTV and OTA HDTV broadcasts, the situation has been reversed — at least for the time being (more on that soon). Many sets sold as HDTVs today are HDTV-ready, but don’t have any electronics inside them that can pick up an OTA HDTV broadcast — or any ATSC broadcast, whether high-definition or standard-definition. (ATSC is the acronym for the Advanced Technology Standards Committee, an international, non-profit organization that sets forth voluntary standards for digital television.)
The government is requiring TV manufacturers to include built-in tuners that can pick up OTA HDTV, starting with bigger (36+-inch) TVs in 2005. Soon this lack of tuners won’t be a problem.