One more person's view of the CM 7000 -
the pros -
1. Very sturdy and feels well made, much heavier than the other boxes. Feels like it will last.
2. The buttons on the front panel of the box (unlike what some other posters have commented on) feel sturdy and give resistance to the touch, feel locked in place.
3. The buttons on the remote feel sturdy and offer more resistance than I'd like (perhaps a good thing), again feeling well constructed.
4. Contents inside the box were mildly well padded to withstand mild shock. The box itself had a plastic protective cover over its panel to protect sensitive areas (control buttons, remote sensor). If you think the box during shipping is going to be banged and dropped, get added protection - the padding in the box leaves the contents susceptible to potential damage.
5. Noted stronger ability to hold reception on strong stations without breaking up as often as my other boxes. Ability to pick up two weaker stations to the point of holding them longer before breaking up. (I had hoped for much better reception on the weaker stations than I got, but it seems like with the right antenna, I will experience less breaking up. I was hoping for miraculous reception of these stations and the reception fell far short of that hope for those weaker stations.)
Many times I noticed the signal meter down in the 10 to 30%range for some weaker stations (at the strongest signal for these weak stations), and there was momentary break up of the signal. I have tuned to stations where the signal meter reading is between 90 and 100% and sometimes much lower while the picture is held most of the time. PP loses the picture in the low 60% range, as does the Zinwell when the signal reading goes too "low." With the CM, the signal reading seems as though it has to almost be below 15% or lower for it to drop the picture.
6. Many options for customizing closed caption appearance, the best feature being that as a preference is modified, the appearance/display of that choice appears on the same page as the menu options, allowing the user to experiment and see how modifications will appear before exiting out of that menu. Insignia, PP, and Zinwell don't do this - you make the changes, go to your station, wait for the cc to appear and then see the results of your modifications.
7. Fast initial scanning of stations. Helpful listing of each station as they are locked in to the memory.
8. Retention of already loaded stations during updating of potential new stations not received on the initial load. (You don't have to do a total "rescan.")
9. Excellent EPG - not a grid like Pal Plus, but a large listing of future programs per station with the ability to stay on that program listing menu without having to back out of any screen (other than having the station you were watching change to the station you want listings for. Decent length of description of each program for those that list it.
10. Ventilation holes (many) not only on the bottom, but also on the top.
11. No wall wart. Easy to plug in cord. (Decent cord length, too.)
12. Large text in the manual. (Read cons!!!)
13. While the appearance of changed stations is not as fast as that of Insignia or Pal Plus, the change is fast enough. I noticed it seems to be a half to one second slower.
14. The way in which keeping loaded stations in the memory is handled - you can "delete" a station by simply keeping it from appearing during channel selection changes, allowing you to "add" it back in without having to rescan for it. You can mark a station as a favorite and thus have a list of favorites to choose from. I didn't explore this so I don't know yet how the CM handles movement among the favorites when that button is pressed.
15. Useful remote buttons, such as "favorites, mute, back/recall, and cc." Dedicated channel rocker button. (Many times during my initial testing, I pressed the up and down arrow buttons, as I would on the PP!)
1. As warned by many posters, the OSD, especially the information banner, is ridiculously small. It is the smallest by far of any of my boxes. I thought the Pal Plus was a bit hard to read (as compared to the Zinwell or Insignia). I'm grateful the PP's text is AS LARGE as it is given the text size of the CM. I tested the CM on my small portable tv's and at first the appearance was unreadable. I mean, not hard to read, I mean unreadable. I realized I had the set connected via the RF connection. When I switched to the RCA link, the text was slightly more legible, but not by much.
I got used to barely being able to read the banner title of each station (which appears when changing stations), and knowing that the leftmost portion is cut off by the edge of the tv screen. The positive about the size is that unlike the other boxes I have, when I change a station, I have come to accept that for a few seconds, a good portion of the screen will be taken up by the banner/info display. At least with the CM, only a very small part of the screen will be taken up by this information. (this banner info goes away by itself in a short period of time).
Through experimentation, I found that as far as close captioning goes for a small portable screen, what results in the most decipherable appearance is a font size of LARGE, style of FONT 4, and BG Opacity to TRANSLUCENT. Other settings I left to the "default" setting. Because the appearance of the cc is so small and my small tv seems to blur images (even did this with my PP), I needed to have the CM separate each character from each other and any other surrounding color as much as possible to make each character stand out as much as possible. I got to the point where I could read the letters with some effort. Not good by any means, but at least barely readable - before, the appearance was unreadable.
2. The navigation path to do commands on screen is clunky. There is no "cancel" button or any way to go back to a previous step - just an "exit" button. This is noteworthy when making changes in the cc menu screen. You cannot modify preferences and also change the close captioning choice, such as going from cc1 to digital 1 - you have to exit out of the preferences, select the cc choice and then go back into preferences. (I did notice, however, that the CM seems to remember what cc preference choice was your last, so when you choose preferences and hit ok, it goes to the most recently selected preference choice.)
Unlike the Zinwell's remote capability, you have to press a button repeatedly to toggle through choices, such as through the various close caption choices, just like what you have to do with the Insignia. With the Zinwell, you hold a button down and it automatically moves you through choices - this is helpful for backing out of a menu - with the CM, you have to press, press, press the buttons. When you are moving down the future program listings for a station, rather than holding down the "down arrow" button and letting the CM automatically scroll down, you have to press, press, press, the buttons for each scroll down. VERY TEDIOUS.
3. No way to manually add a station other than rescanning through the update. There is no way to get a temporary signal read on a station not scanned into the CM. Zinwell allows you to do this, I think Insignia does, too. But the CM is powerful enough, so if you do a rescan and play around with your antenna's position during scanning, it there is any way for the box to lock in on a station, it will do it. The first time I scanned stations, it missed a few (the weak ones). Next time during the rescan, I pointed the antenna in various directions, and at the very end with a few seconds left, it locked in on the weakest station.
4. No analog pass through. Sure, after June 12, most people won't need that feature, but until then, it's nice to have it available.
5. Short RF cable (looks somwhat well made, though).
6. Large box size (not too large, but requires some room for placement).
7. Somewhat longer time to display a new station as compared with Insignia/Zinwell/Pal Plus. Still quick, but slower than these by a half to a full second.
8. Several useless buttons on the remote, already described on other posts. One button on the remote (labeled, "wide" I believe) changes the format of the displayed screen. YOU DO NOT NECESSARILY KNOW THAT THIS BUTTON PERFORMS THIS FUNCTION AFTER HAVING READ THE MANUAL AND USING THIS CECB FOR THE FIRST OR SECOND TIME!!! I thought there would be some adjustment button after pressing this button to activate the format choice. I couldn't find one, and after a tech call, was told how to do it. A needless oversight in the manual in this regard. How much editing does it take for the company to not explain, "press the WIDE button toggle through format displays?"
Each press of the button changes through a full, letter box, zoom, zoom1, zoom2, or some such description. At first I thought the screen display was mishandled by my tv. None of my other CECBs handle this formatting this way. This typified the less user friendly nature of the navigational system of this box as compared with the Insignia, Pal Plus, and Zinwell, almost all of which I could figure out quickly with barely a read through the manual. With the CM, to perform a few basic fuintions, such as changing the screen format, I was left in a daze as to what button got the screen reformatted.
(Every manual I have read has had some oversight, misspellings, etc. At first, I thought the CM had gotten it right, and that it had been edited perfectly. There are at least two (that I know of) major misspellings that almost give away that the editor or printer did not learn English as his/her first language. Any editor whose first language was English would have picked up on these two glaring misspellings and had them corrected before manual printing. Also, a non-tech editor would have read the manual to double check that it addressed almost every major basic user process. There is one page that addresses ways in which to deal with the mosdt common problems, so at least some thought was put into it. Also, credit should be given for printing the manual in large text font size.
Guess that explains most of my first reaction. I may have more after June 12.
My questions to other CM users -
for a small tv screen size, what cc preferences have worked best for you?
On my small tv, which sometimes puts color on cc letterring from the tv cc itself, I see that the letters for program descriptions are multicolored. Do the letters for program descriptions appear multicolored on your screen, too?
Is there any way to move down the listing of programs for each station without having to press the down arrow each time you want to move to the next time period?
Have you found any way to deal with manually checking a station that is not yet added?
I am still not sure if the box should have the orange/yellow light on when the box is turned off and all that means is that it is in standby, or if the light should be red, signaling "off."
I tested my CM on three different antennas - two were dipole only, one way a UHF/VHF combination. The VHF pulled in most stations strong, never got the two "weak" stations. The UHF/VHF pulled in the two weak stations when the antenna was pointed in a specific way with no room for error. It was an UNamplified antenna. Have other CM users found that an unamplified antenna is sufficient for pulling in most stations including the weaker ones? The antenna that worked the best among the three was the VHF/UHF (RCA ANT145). I had a fine tuning dial knob and a UHF "plate" rotatable by 180 degrees.
So far, my box has not gotten "stuck" or experienced any "problems." The major problems so far have to do with the close to unreadable text size of cc and other displayed messages on a small tv screen, and the tedious nature of having to work through the menu screens and option. I am impressed with the boxe's ability to hold signals.