What Equipment Do You Need?
You will have to buy a new HDTV. Some HDTVs come with built-in tuners, while others do not. The tuner converts the signal into something that your TV can recognize. HDTVs that do not come with a tuner are commonly called "HDTV Ready." An HDTV without a tuner is worthless.
There was a big legal fight between Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the FCC about including tuners in all HDTVs. The FCC wanted tuners to be included, while the CEA did not. FCC reasoned that the including tuners would increase adoption of HDTV. The CEA said that tuners are only for people who want to receive signals via antenna and is worthless for people who want to use digital cable or satellite, which have built-in tuners.
Another reason that the CEA argued against including tuners into HDTVs is that it would drive up the costs of manufacturing the HDTV. It looks like the FCC won, and as of July 2004 HDTVs with screens of 36 inches or more must be sold with a tuner included. Smaller sizes will be phased in over the next three years.
If you want to use your computer to view HDTV, you can buy the upcoming ATi HDTV Wonder. It comes with an antenna to pick up airborne HDTV signals. It also has inputs for cable/satellite signals. If you already have a decent monitor, it might make sense and will save you lots of money to get an HDTV card for your computer.
There is another big reason why you might want to get a computer-based HDTV card. You will be able to play and record any show you want. This will be explained further in the broadcast flag section of this article.