Best Buy Gives Analog the Boot

You now have a good reason to splurge on a new TV. Your old clunker is more than an eyesore -- it's soon to be an obsolete relic.

In a move that strikes a nerve with frugal consumers everywhere, electronics retailer Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) has announced that it stopped selling all analog television sets as of Oct. 1. Best Buy says the move comes "as the end of the analog broadcast era draws near."

All analog TVs will stop working after Feb. 18, 2009, the date the FCC requires broadcasters to stop transmitting analog signals. That's going to become a royal pain for the estimated 60 million people who currently use antennas or analog TV sets. Their only option is to buy a new digital TV, or an analog-digital converter that will work on your old set. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has agreed to provide two $40 coupons for converters to homes that currently don't have cable or satellite TV.

In the past several years, analog TVs, those half-ton wood-encased tubes that rarely come with remotes, have been taken over by flat-panel and high-definition screens. The newer technology provides a considerably sharper and more lifelike picture than the older analog TVs. It makes Maria Bartiromo's close-ups that much better.

The switch will end up being a boon for electronics retailers such as Best Buy, Circuit City (NYSE: CC  ) , Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) , and Costco (Nasdaq: COST  ) . Best Buy had already experienced triple-digit same-store-sales growth for digital TV sets in 2006. Now factor in the millions of consumers who need to replace their old rabbit-ear TVs, and retailers could end up doing quite handsomely.

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