If you're only looking to pick up your local channels and are fairly close to your broadcast source (use http://www.antennaweb.org to find out what channels are available), then no. You do not need a digital cable box.
If you are looking to get the channels offered by your local cable company (above and beyond your local channels), then yes. You do need a digital cable box. This cable box also decodes the encrypted channels your cable provider sends based on your subscription.
yeah.. the only way to get high definition is to use an antenna or a digital cable box.
as far as comcast forcing everybody to switch to digital.. we should be thankful for a couple reasons:
1. no more snow or grain in the picture.
2. some additional room on their network structure by not using the analog connection.
it is like saying, the analog video electrifies most of the copper wire.. and there is little room for anything else.
with digital.. they can fit more than one 'signal' on the copper wire.
that is how we get digital television AND internet AND telephone from the same copper wire.
do we need all of those signals? no, not always.
it saves their copper wires from being over loaded.
that means less wires = money savings = more money to pay for the sensitive digital equipment.
the 'servers' would look simple and less complicated.. less wire mess.. less connectors.
of course, the number of subscribers has probably gone up, since some people dont have cable television but do use the internet.
all i was trying to say is - more room on the copper wire = multi tasking.