It might be risky to wait much longer to prepare for digital TV. The federal government reports that U.S. households have ordered about 13 million of the free coupons for converter boxes. That's more than a third of all the coupons the government will dispense.
The coupons each cover $40 of the cost of one of the converters, which start at about $50. The converter boxes will enable old TVs and VCRs to receive broadcast signals after the government turns off stations in February. Each household qualifies for two coupons.
Some have suggested waiting to order the coupons because they expire after 90 days. And niftier converters, with features such as cable-TV-like programming guides, are scheduled to arrive at retailers later this year. That would be too late for the earliest coupons.
But there is no guarantee coupons will still be available months from now. They probably will be, particularly as unspent coupons expire and become available again to new applicants. But applications could accelerate as the February deadline approaches. It's a risk I'd rather not take.