Digital Converters and VCRs

Gene Janowski wants to know if he'll be able to record programs on his VCR after broadcast television switches to all digital.

When American television stations cease analog broadcasting (as I write this, there's a bill before the Senate to postpone the transition from February 17 to June 12), your VCR will no longer be able to record shows directly off of the air.

Basically, you've got three options:

1) You can connect your new converter box to the VCR, and the VCR to the TV. The problem: You can't watch one show while recording another.

2) You can buy a second converter box, and have one going to the TV and the other to the VCR. But you'll have to remember to set the channel on the box instead of the VCR, and the box doesn't have a timer.

(For more details on either of these first two options, see the FCC's Setting Up Your Digital-to-Analog Converter Box With a VCR page.)

3) Buy a digital video recorder, like a TiVo. Use it to record new shows, but keep your VCR connected for watching old tapes.

Add your comments to this article below. If you have other tech questions, email them to me at, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum.

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