How to Tell If a TV Has a Digital Tuner

By Robert Vaux

Every television station in the United States will soon be broadcasting in digital. The old analog signals have become obsolete, and digital signals use up far less room on the bandwidth. Many television sets come equipped with digital tuners, allowing them to receive the new signals automatically. But other, older analog TVs won't be able to get the new signals, and their owners need to purchase a digital converter in order to keep watching their favorite shows. How can you tell if your TV has a digital tuner? There are a number of different ways.

Step 1

Check the front of the TV or the owner's manual to see if it includes a digital tuner. On the front of the TV, you will see a logo reading "Integrated Tuner," "Digital Tuner Built In" or something similar. The owner's manual should list it among the TV's features as well. If you don't see the logo or you don't have the owner's manual, don't panic. Your TV may still be digital-ready.

Step 2

Find out when the TV was made. The federal government mandated that all TVs made after February 2007 that cross state lines to be sold or that are imported from other countries must come equipped with a digital tuner. If yours was made after that, you're set.

Step 3

Ask the salesman. Federal law requires all television sellers to tell you up front whether your TV has a digital tuner. If it doesn't, ask to see one that does or purchase a digital converter box along with your TV.

Step 4

Contact the manufacturer. Most large manufacturers have their own websites where they list the capabilities of each of their models, including whether a digital tuner is included. Large electronics chains such as Best Buy and Sears offer similar information.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some confusion exists concerning the difference between digital TV and high definition TV (HDTV). "Digital" refers to how the signal is sent. "High definition" refers to the relative clarity of the signal. Accordingly, while all TV signals are sent digitally, not all of them are sent in HD. If you want to receive programs in HD, ask specifically for a high definition television, not just one with a digital tuner.
  • Beware of misleading labels on your TV. If it describes itself as "Digital Ready," "HDTV Ready" or the like, that's not the same as having a digital tuner. Make sure it lists the tuner as built-in before you purchase it.