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Old January 22nd, 2009, 08:46 AM   #1
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TV converter box - advice needed

I'm looking to to buy a couple of TV converter boxes (to convert analog broadcast signal to digital one) and need help deciding. Any recommendations, advice, positive/negative experiences or help will be greatly appreciated. I have to say, I'm quite overwhelmed by the huge variety of such devices. Thank you.
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 01:22 PM   #2
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Hi Stylianos............

Er, could you be a bit more specific on what type of analogue signals you want converted to what type of digital?

Seeing as how you're first location address is MA. in the US**. I have to pick "set top box to recieve digital terestrial transmissions" from a very long list of possibles, tho' it's possible this is a country mile from accurate.

Just assuming for a moment I did, indeed, get it right, we're actually talking receiving digital signals and converting them to analogue*** for steam TV.

I'll hold further comment till I'm actually sure what I'm commenting on.


CS

** Which is supposed to be switching off the analogue TV transmitters and switching on the digital transmitters in about a months time (Feb, 09), BO allowing.

Hawaii, as we have all seen, has already done so.


***Not really accurate, can O/P digital as well via a HDMI connector, in most modern cases.

Last edited by Chris Soucy; January 22nd, 2009 at 01:29 PM. Reason: Further consideration
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Old January 23rd, 2009, 09:52 AM   #3
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Chris, thank you for replying, and my apologies for not being more specific; for a moment I forgot that this isn't a US-only forum.

So, yes, I do live in USA and pretty soon TV stations will change their broadcast signal from analog to digital; which means that those of us who still own analog TV sets and receive their signal through the so-called rabbit-ear antennas will have to get one of those converter boxes such as Channel Master CM-7000, Insignia NS-DXA1 or Zenith DTT901, to name a few. Now, the problem is that currently there are more than 40 different such devices on the market and so I was wondering if anyone can make any recommendations based on their experience.

Thank you.
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Old January 23rd, 2009, 11:35 AM   #4
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Alas, I got me a TV with digital tuner so I can't help other than to say: I really doubt there are going to be performance differences between models. Much like other computer equipment, they are all built on the same or similar chips.

If you can go in person, I'd look for the best GUI. Mail order? Good luck!
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Old January 23rd, 2009, 01:22 PM   #5
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OK, well...............

Not sure how relevant this will be to your situation, but might be usefull in your deliberations.

Can't help you with specific devices as none of your options will be available here, and vice versa.

However, the situation down here in the Boonies is as follows.

Currently available NZ TV options:

1. Analogue terrestrial SD (all major and most minor channels including Prime [Sky], not all channels available in remote areas. Free to air).

2. Digital Satelite Freeview SD (all major and most minor channels. Available NZ wide. Free to air. STB required.)

3. Sky Digital {Satelite} SD (The usual Sky line up including Prime. NZ wide. Subscription most channels. STB required.)

4. Sky HD {Satelite} (The most popular Sky channels. NZ wide. Subscription. STB required).

5. Freeview Terrestrial HD (All major channels excluding Prime, some minor channels. Free to air. STB required).


Freeview HD fired up last April, covering only the major urban centres.

We bought into it right off as we already had a 46" Sony X series Bravia Full HD set (Canon XH A1, for the use of).

Simply required purchasing a STB and away we went.

Love it.

The downside is we only have a single channel STB and a SD VCR recorder.

As the major channels here all throw their best stuff out between 20.30 and 21.30 hours, we find there are 3 really good programs on at the same time, and absolute garbage for the other 23 hours per day.

Our telly has two HDMI ports, with the STB in one of them.

Recently released, but way too expensive as yet @ $999 NZ, has been a Zinwell HD HDD PVR (High Definition Hard Disc Drive Personal Video Recorder, 250 Gig) with the ability to concurrently record two seperate HD programs whilst letting you view a third off the HDD.

"The Plan" is to get either one of those or another make with more features (when released in NZ) and plug it into the second HDMI port on the telly.

This would allow us to record two HD programs whilst watching a third live via our original STB.

As I said, may not be at all relevant, but guess it shows there are features you might just find useful if there is any correlation in programming between there and here.

Good luck.


CS
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Old January 26th, 2009, 09:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stylianos Moschapidakis View Post
Chris, thank you for replying, and my apologies for not being more specific; for a moment I forgot that this isn't a US-only forum.

So, yes, I do live in USA and pretty soon TV stations will change their broadcast signal from analog to digital; which means that those of us who still own analog TV sets and receive their signal through the so-called rabbit-ear antennas will have to get one of those converter boxes such as Channel Master CM-7000, Insignia NS-DXA1 or Zenith DTT901, to name a few. Now, the problem is that currently there are more than 40 different such devices on the market and so I was wondering if anyone can make any recommendations based on their experience.

Thank you.
Hi,

I own and have recommended the Zenith DTT901 to a number of friends. All have been happy with that choice. I have (briefly) used a borrowed ChannelMaster CM7000. I was not terribly impressed with the CM. It does have S-video output, which the Zenith/Insignias do not. The CM-7000 does display blocked/frozen picture elements when signals are low to the point that the Zenith shows no picture, but what use is that?

The Zenith seems reliable and well made. Look for it at Kmarts for $49.99 before coupon and tax.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 01:58 PM   #7
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I would recommend the RCA unit that is being primarily sold by Wal-Mart. I did quite a bit of research online prior to selecting this model, and it was only a coincidence that Wal-Mart is the main seller of this unit. I set one up at my mother's house in California, and it works very well. Good closed captioning is available as well. Be advised that, in general, you need a stronger signal to receive digital broadcasts compared to analog. At her house, several marginal stations can still be viewed in analog, but are blank in digital. For many, a new antenna and coax are in their future.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 03:35 PM   #8
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At her house, several marginal stations can still be viewed in analog, but are blank in digital.
That is (will be) the dirty little secret about digital TV. The FCC has things called 'contours': A, B, and C depending on signal level. IIRC, a broadcast station has to match the B contour. People viewing an analog station in the C contour will be out of luck in digital.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 08:17 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Andy Tejral View Post
That is (will be) the dirty little secret about digital TV.
Interesting tidbit, but a bit OT.

The OP is looking for converter box recommendations. I can't help since I'm too far away for analog or digital signals and too many tall trees for satellite. Stuck with cable.
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Old January 27th, 2009, 06:49 AM   #10
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Here's in a nutshell what you need to know.

There are some comparisons on the web, just Google for "compare hdtv converter boxes". The Zenith DTT901 is one of the good choices as it has analog pass-through - this might be important if you have small TV stations in the area, that are not required by the law to switch to analog. So if you want to tune into one of these, you will not have to do any switching on antennas/inputs.

In the end it doesn't matter all that much - and I am not trying to be condescendent, these are technical facts. Some argue that S-Video output will provide better picture. DTV converted to analog will give you a better picture in 9 out of 10 cases, regarless of the signal type, composit on S-Video. This converted signal will be viewed on an old TV set, and that TV set is what will ultimately limit the quality. Newer sets have always better quality.

"You can't receive DTV with a rabbit ear" is simply not true. I have a top of the line Mitsubishi DLP and I'm watching quite a few digital channels with a rabbit ear - shame on me, but didn't have the time yet to put up a proper antenna. It's true, some channels are coming in with a lot of noise on the analog side, but not at all on the digital side - with digital, there is no noise, there is reception or there is no reception.

Here's what you can expect: If you get analog signal with a rabbit ear, buying a UHF antenna will bring in the digital channels in most cases. Go here and enter your zip code, then fine tune your location on the map. See what stations you want to receive and buy an antenna using the color code.

Bottom line: an antenna will matter a lot more than the converter box.

I hope this helps.
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Last edited by Ervin Farkas; January 27th, 2009 at 09:09 PM. Reason: Corrections
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Old January 28th, 2009, 02:01 PM   #11
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A big 'THANK YOU' to everyone who's replied so far. Because of your responses my search for the "right" converter box will be less painful.

Ervin, thanks for pointing out the importance of good antennas and for the useful link.

Now, I seem to have a hard time finding reputable online (or offline) retailers who accept the government issued coupons and have either of the already mentioned boxes (Zenith, Insignia or Master Channel) in stock. Any links?

Thanks.
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