Which TV Converter Box is Best? - AVS Forum

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Coupon Eligible Converter Box (CECB)

mlong30's Avatar mlong30
06:39 AM Liked: 10
post #1 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 26
Joined: Sep 2002
I just received my TV Converter Box coupon, and would like to know which is the best box at the moment. I've been reading other comments about the RCA DTA 800b might be the best choice, but not sure.

When I visit https://www.ntiadtv.gov/cecb_list.cfm I see a huge list of capable boxes, but can't find reviews on them.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks.

Matt
Indianapolis, In
walford's Avatar walford
12:59 PM Liked: 12
post #2 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 16,789
Joined: May 2003
What is your criteria for Best: Tuner sensitivity, Tuner ability to reject multipath signals, power consumption, ease of remote control usage or some other feature(s)?
ciwsguy's Avatar ciwsguy
02:48 PM Liked: 10
post #3 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 107
Joined: Dec 2007
mlong30,
When I received my Gov't coupons, I decided to experiment between two different brands. I really wanted the Echostar TR-40, but those won't be available until this Summer at the earliest. There aren't that many different brands of STBs available at the market moment, even though the Gov't says all these different models meet their coupon program requirements. I ended up redeeming the coupons on a Bestbuy Insignia and a Radio Shack Digital Stream.

IMO, the Digital Stream has a better On Screen Guide, a more sensitive receiver and a more robust remote control. Both were very easy to setup, but if you want a recommendation, I personally recommend the Digital Stream model from RS - that is IF you can stand all of the stupid questions they ask you when you buy anything in a RS store. I hate going to RS just for that reason.

my 2 bits worth.......

ciwsguy
rviele's Avatar rviele
03:07 PM Liked: 17
post #4 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 816
Joined: May 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by mlong30 View Post

I just received my TV Converter Box coupon, and would like to know which is the best box at the moment. I've been reading other comments about the RCA DTA 800b might be the best choice, but not sure.

When I visit https://www.ntiadtv.gov/cecb_list.cfm I see a huge list of capable boxes, but can't find reviews on them.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks.

Matt
Indianapolis, In

my vote goes to the insignia.
bdfox18doe's Avatar bdfox18doe
04:00 PM Liked: 75
post #5 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 6,492
Joined: Oct 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by mlong30 View Post

I just received my TV Converter Box coupon, and would like to know which is the best box at the moment. Matt Indianapolis, In

You need to spend some time reading here to draw your own conclusions.
Having most of the available brands, for me the pick is the Zenith/Insignia,Digital Stream, then the RJTech (Mustek). I don't like the RCA or Magnavox.
Rammitinski's Avatar Rammitinski
04:08 PM Liked: 20
post #6 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 17,437
Joined: Sep 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by ciwsguy View Post

I personally recommend the Digital Stream model from RS - that is IF you can stand all of the stupid questions they ask you when you buy anything in a RS store. I hate going to RS just for that reason.

At this point, once they ask me my name as the first question, they see right away that I'm in the system so it doesn't really go any further, thank God.

By the way, how would you compare the PQ of the DS to the Insignia? I hear it's less sharp. Other than that, I might consider it, because I've always liked my Accurian ATSC tuner (which is really a DS), and it seems to have retained a very similar interface and features (although the PQ on that isn't quite as sharp as either my Sony or Samsung tuners, either - but it still looks fine on a smaller, analog set).

Another thing - have you tried to see if a Pioneer cable box control will work it (like it did the Accurian box)? I need to know, for DVD recorder-IR blaster compatability.
11001011's Avatar 11001011
04:22 PM Liked: 12
post #7 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 1,361
Joined: Aug 2004
I have the same question. Locally I can find the Insignia, Zenith, and I guess the Radio Shack one but I haven't been there yet. (never even crossed my mind to check Radio Shack)

I guess my main concern on one would be ease of setup and use as it is going to my mother back east. So it needs to be plug and play or better yet just "play"

The second one I will keep sensitivity, multi path rejection and picture quality are my main concerns.

I really like to avoid Insignia branded devices so I guess it's Zenith or R.S.?
bdfox18doe's Avatar bdfox18doe
04:45 PM Liked: 75
post #8 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 6,492
Joined: Oct 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by 11001011 View Post

I really like to avoid Insignia branded devices so I guess it's Zenith

They're the same box. Plus to the Zenith is it's $49.99 at HHGregg if they have a store in your area.
indyjack's Avatar indyjack
05:10 PM Liked: 10
post #9 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 54
Joined: Jul 2005
I just ordered my first coupon hoping the TR-40 will be available. If not, I will keep searching for reviews like everyone else. If I had to buy today, I would head to
HHGregg for the Zenith.
mlong30's Avatar mlong30
05:12 PM Liked: 10
post #10 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 26
Joined: Sep 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by walford View Post

What is your criteria for Best: Tuner sensitivity, Tuner ability to reject multipath signals, power consumption, ease of remote control usage or some other feature(s)?

Well, for me it would have to be picture quality, then Tuner sensitivity. I would like to be able pick up all the signals, without dropping, if thats possible. I never heard of "reject mulipath signals" could you explain?

Thanks.

Matt
mlong30's Avatar mlong30
05:13 PM Liked: 10
post #11 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 26
Joined: Sep 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by indyjack View Post

I just ordered my first coupon hoping the TR-40 will be available. If not, I will keep searching for reviews like everyone else. If I had to buy today, I would head to
HHGregg for the Zenith.

Why the TR-40? Is there a site that gives a description of the features of each model?
bdfox18doe's Avatar bdfox18doe
05:20 PM Liked: 75
post #12 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 6,492
Joined: Oct 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by ciwsguy View Post

that is IF you can stand all of the stupid questions they ask you when you buy anything in a RS store. ciwsguy

Now what was their slogan? Was it "We've got Questions, You've Got Answers" ? Besides, you went in to buy the wrong thing, you should have asked about a cell phone.

(ex radio shack employee from the era of when they actually had real products to sell)
ciwsguy's Avatar ciwsguy
06:39 PM Liked: 10
post #13 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 107
Joined: Dec 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdfox18doe View Post

Now what was their slogan? Was it "We've got Questions, You've Got Answers" ? Besides, you went in to buy the wrong thing, you should have asked about a cell phone.

(ex radio shack employee from the era of when they actually had real products to sell)

The ONLY reason I darkened the door at RS was because the Zenith model at HH Gregg store had all been opened and tampered with. Other than the Wally World STB from Funai China, RS was the only other option here. Target stores don't yet have their STBs.

You did a smart thing leaving RS employment. Lord, I absolutely hate those stores.

Oh, if you go to RS to buy anything, I have a suggested response to their stupid questions.

Name :
Address:
Phone Number:
p.s. Be sure you hide your cell phone before you go into the store.

ciwsguy's Avatar ciwsguy
06:49 PM Liked: 10
post #14 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 107
Joined: Dec 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

By the way, how would you compare the PQ of the DS to the Insignia? I hear it's less sharp. Other than that, I might consider it, because I've always liked my Accurian ATSC tuner (which is really a DS), and it seems to have retained a very similar interface and features (although the PQ on that isn't quite as sharp as either my Sony or Samsung tuners, either - but it still looks fine on a smaller, analog set).

Another thing - have you tried to see if a Pioneer cable box control will work it (like it did the Accurian box)? I need to know, for DVD recorder-IR blaster compatability.

Rammitinski,
Since it's Standard Def analog, the Picture Quality is about the same. Only 480 lines of resolution and relatively small screen (Insignia is connected via coax to a 27" Panasonic tube TV / Digital Stream is connected via coax to a 20 year old 19" MGA. I haven't compared their composite outputs between the 2 sets. The MGA doesn't have anything other than 300 ohm UHF connections. I did find the Digital Stream has a more sensitive receiver - I was picking up digital transmitters on the DS that the Insigina couldn't see. Similar coax cable lengths, so I can only conclude that the DS is more sensitive.

Pioneer cable box? I dumped cable eons ago when Ku band satellite service came on line. Wouldn't have a clue about that part of your question.
ciwsguy's Avatar ciwsguy
06:59 PM Liked: 10
post #15 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 107
Joined: Dec 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by mlong30 View Post

I would like to be able pick up all the signals, without dropping, if thats possible. I never heard of "reject mulipath signals" could you explain?

Thanks.

Matt

In layman terms, "reject multipath signals" means that the receiver can focus on the main lobe of the signal, not letting a reflection or a sideband signal interfere with the focus on the main signal lobe. If you're familiar with "ghosting" while viewing analog TV, that is an example of a multipath reflection. The signal bounced off another object and arrived a fraction of a second later than the main signal, hence the multipath the signal took to get to you. Generally, you don't want multipath. I've never seen ratings on any Digital STB for multipath rejection, but I think you'll find they all work fairly well doing what they're intended to do.

From personal experience, I recommend the Digital Stream they sell at Radio Shack, assuming you can put up with their stupid questions that they really don't need to know. The guts of the Insignia brand at Bestbuy and the Zenith at HH Gregg are supposed to be virtually identical.
sterno3's Avatar sterno3
08:32 PM Liked: 11
post #16 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 549
Joined: May 2004
Which box has the smallest form factor? Do most of them come with remotes?
Rammitinski's Avatar Rammitinski
11:35 PM Liked: 20
post #17 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 17,437
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ciwsguy View Post

Pioneer cable box? I dumped cable eons ago when Ku band satellite service came on line. Wouldn't have a clue about that part of your question.

No, all I meant was that a Pio cable box code controlled the Digital Stream tuner. If you have a universal remote around, and a list of codes for it, all you'd have to do is try the Pio cable box ones to see if any will control the Digital Stream box.

My DVD recorders have all the same, standard Pio codes that the remotes have, so it's likely the IR blasters will control it, too.

(Or, if you didn't have a uni-remote, but had a recorder with an IR blaster, you could just try the Pio codes in the recorder.)
Rammitinski's Avatar Rammitinski
11:44 PM Liked: 20
post #18 of 32
03-25-2008 | Posts: 17,437
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sterno3 View Post

Which box has the smallest form factor? Do most of them come with remotes?

1.) http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?PROD=MG2000

2.) They all do.
dagger666's Avatar dagger666
03:26 AM Liked: 10
post #19 of 32
03-26-2008 | Posts: 1,109
Joined: Jan 2006
if you just got your coupons why rush out to buy one now. You can wait until the maxmadia and and echostar boxes are out. Digital switch over isn't for months and you are not missing anything on digital tv so i would wait. Remember none of these boxes will give you HD because analog tvs can't do HD. coupons are good for 90 days which falls well into the time echostars tr-40 will be released. Like the rest of us my coupon expires in may just a few weekes before the TR-40 release :-(
indyjack's Avatar indyjack
04:09 AM Liked: 10
post #20 of 32
03-26-2008 | Posts: 54
Joined: Jul 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by mlong30 View Post

Why the TR-40? Is there a site that gives a description of the features of each model?

The TR-40 created a lot of buzz at the 2008 CES and you will find a lot of talk
about it in this forum. I like the idea of a 7 day guide and a price matching
the coupon.
The down side had been the availability date has slipped until this summer.
ciwsguy's Avatar ciwsguy
04:15 PM Liked: 10
post #21 of 32
03-26-2008 | Posts: 107
Joined: Dec 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by dagger666 View Post

if you just got your coupons why rush out to buy one now. You can wait until the maxmadia and and echostar boxes are out. Digital switch over isn't for months and you are not missing anything on digital tv so i would wait. Remember none of these boxes will give you HD because analog tvs can't do HD. coupons are good for 90 days which falls well into the time echostars tr-40 will be released. Like the rest of us my coupon expires in may just a few weekes before the TR-40 release :-(

Wake up dagger666. If you have your coupons now, the chances are the TR-40's won't be available until June/July at the earliest.

If you think that you're not missing anything with digital TV now, then chances are you're not up to date on what digital TV provides. I started looking at DSTBs early because of all of the available digital subchannels that were NOT available in analog transmission. In my local market, there is ION TV. There is ONE analog transmission channel on ION TV in my market but they have SIX digital subchannels which is five more channels broadcast over analog. PBS here in KY broadcasts one HD and two SD programs in the bandwidth of ONE analog channel.

I can't speak for what digital channel selection is available in your market, but here I have about a 40% increase of available channels over analog. Why did I get my converter boxes now? Because I wanted to get those channels now. You don't have to wait until Feb 2009.
stpinindy's Avatar stpinindy
08:21 PM Liked: 10
post #22 of 32
03-26-2008 | Posts: 44
Joined: Mar 2008
Not only are there more channels but they have different themes which aren't available analog. Example, pbs sub-channels include the education channel with the constitution on and the create channel with home and garden programming. I found this with my hdtv vizio but My vcr doesn't pick up the channels so I can't record them or watch them on a tv not connected to satellite.
Rammitinski's Avatar Rammitinski
12:31 AM Liked: 20
post #23 of 32
03-27-2008 | Posts: 17,437
Joined: Sep 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by indyjack View Post

The TR-40 created a lot of buzz at the 2008 CES and you will find a lot of talk
about it in this forum. I like the idea of a 7 day guide and a price matching
the coupon.

It's also the only box to have a "VCR Timer" so that it can change channels when recording from it.

Supposed to have pass thru, too (but only composite out).
jpconard's Avatar jpconard
11:33 AM Liked: 10
post #24 of 32
03-27-2008 | Posts: 444
Joined: Aug 2005
Has anybody called the government to explain the reasons an extension is needed? I contacted Echostar and they said to get back to them in a month, there may be something they could do.

Why can't Echostar work with retailers or directly to do a pre-order system (reserve it on a real credit card, then when the product is ready do an online transaction with the government card). Is this not possible?
wildgoose's Avatar wildgoose
01:05 PM Liked: 11
post #25 of 32
03-28-2008 | Posts: 185
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpconard View Post

Has anybody called the government to explain the reasons an extension is needed? I contacted Echostar and they said to get back to them in a month, there may be something they could do.

The 90 day limit is passed by Congress so it will take more than a phone call to extend it. I've seen advice to contact your local representatives, but now I am thinking, this also makes an interesting news story. If this can get on the news, then there's more incentive for the government to do something about it.

I'd say write to all the news source you can think of to ask them to report on this. If this gets to say 20/20 (unlikely), you bet your a** it will be extended.
ciwsguy's Avatar ciwsguy
07:06 PM Liked: 10
post #26 of 32
03-28-2008 | Posts: 107
Joined: Dec 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by wildgoose View Post

The 90 day limit is passed by Congress so it will take more than a phone call to extend it. I've seen advice to contact your local representatives, but now I am thinking, this also makes an interesting news story. If this can get on the news, then there's more incentive for the government to do something about it.

I'd say write to all the news source you can think of to ask them to report on this. If this gets to say 20/20 (unlikely), you bet your a** it will be extended.

Dream on........ With so many different brands of boxes approved for the coupons do you think that the Gov't or the retails will pressure a manufacturer who are voluntarily participating in the program? Well, Duh!
TalkingRat's Avatar TalkingRat
08:02 PM Liked: 22
post #27 of 32
03-28-2008 | Posts: 2,180
Joined: Mar 2008
Supposedly the 90 days was to reduce illegal use (transfer/sale) of the coupons. It also facilitates a linear cycle, that the first 25% of coupons expire in the first quarter of the program. If everyone waited until all the products were available, mfgrs would lose the stream of revenue needed to maintain production, and production and inventory would be harder to manage.

The 90 day expiration provided huge incentives for a manufacturer to get to market on time. It may have cost dearly to do that, but the payoff with essentially guaranteed sales is in greater market share and higher profit margins. Next quarter with 70 competitors, the field will be tougher. No company would give up that advantage without a fight.
BuzzinBlair's Avatar BuzzinBlair
11:39 PM Liked: 11
post #28 of 32
03-28-2008 | Posts: 39
Joined: Mar 2008
As I read more and more of these accounts of CECBs with glitches or delayed availability I'm really glad I only applied for one coupon on January 1st. I'll use that coupon in May, and wait until the problems get worked out before applying for the second coupon.
Jcotton's Avatar Jcotton
01:11 AM Liked: 10
post #29 of 32
05-24-2008 | Posts: 50
Joined: May 2007
Multipath rejection is high on my list, so which box ?

Get a lot of ghosting and jumping pictures on computer tuner.

Live out of town, my ATI usb 650 used on computer
gets from 2 to 10 channels and the picture ranges
from great to unwatchable. Sure be happy when
the stations start broadcasting 24/7/365.

James
mclapp's Avatar mclapp
01:49 AM Liked: 10
post #30 of 32
05-24-2008 | Posts: 717
Joined: Apr 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jcotton View Post

Multipath rejection is high on my list, so which box ?

Get a lot of ghosting and jumping pictures on computer tuner.

Live out of town, my ATI usb 650 used on computer
gets from 2 to 10 channels and the picture ranges
from great to unwatchable. Sure be happy when
the stations start broadcasting 24/7/365.

James

I have a Zenith dtt900 and it handles multipath great I've turned my antenna every which way and made the analog signal un-watchable just to see how bad I can make it before I lose lock but the Zenith still gives me a solid Digital signal.

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