What CECB is the best? And worst. Vote here. Updated tally 7/24/10 - Page 10 - AVS Forum
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post #271 of 541 Old 11-28-2008, 09:02 PM
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Summary
I have experience with only two converter boxes: a Channel Master CM-7000 and a DigitalStream DTX9950. This is a comparative review.

The CM-7000, when hooked up with the S-Video connection, has superior picture quality.
The DTX9950 is superior in almost every other way.

Comparison
Overall the DTX9950 is a more refined product, you can tell the moment it comes out of the box. It has larger and more clear fonts for the onscreen menus. The menus are more logical, and offer more control. Initial setup is easier. The box gets less warm in use, and is "Energy Star" certified. In standby, the DTX9950 uses a fraction of the energy. There is more control over fonts and colors on closed captions. The manual is much clearer and refined. The unit is physically smaller, and frankly looks better. Reception quality is better, in my area I get two more channels without digital artifacts, using the DTX9950. The "signal strength meter" is much better, with a nice red/yellow/green indication of signal quality (the CM7000 by contrast claims just about every channel comes in at "100%").

Deciding Advantages
The big advantage of the DTX9950 is in the remote control: it controls not only the converter box, but your TV. This means for most common functions you don't need to juggle two remotes. Specifically: it controls TV Power, TV Input Source, and TV Volume (just what you need!).

The big advantage of The CM-7000 is picture quality. Without the S-Video connection you get a grainy appearance, akin to poor analog reception. You get color bands (called "Morrie patterns") that crawl across people's faces. Hooking the CM-7000 up with S-Video clears all this up, resulting in clean vibrant colors and natural skin tones.

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post #272 of 541 Old 11-29-2008, 03:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

How's the Buick?

MyCuz thinks that a new battery will fire her up, but I'm concerned about the tires. I also have access to my Uncle Lou's '67 Plymouth Belvedere. MoPar vs. GMC? They are both intermediates. Does anyone know what was the 1967 intermediate Buick? Both of them are up here on Paddy Mountain.

The four bow-tie Antennacraft U-4000 arrived this week. It's an aluminum wonder. Very light weight. No assembly required, other than U-bolts to the indoor pole lamp. It doesn't have the steel reflector of the Eagle Aspen/ DB-2 antenna. The reflector is composed of aluminum bars.

Any feedback on the Antennacraft U-4000?

I know this is the CECB forum, but I'm impressed by the LG/Insignia/Zenith boxes used with these antennas.
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post #273 of 541 Old 11-29-2008, 07:47 PM
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just got the Tivax from brandsmart on black friday $8 out the door. pq is as good as can be expected, tested on 13inch and 19inch tv. the tuner seems to be better that then the one inside my 2yr old sony hdtv (stabbed in the heart). the guide data is really handy but varies from one station to another. i live in stone mountain, ga and have tall trees on on 2 of 4 sides of the house, my antenna is pointed throught them.

i can actually read then entire guide info with the tivax. the software on my sony hdtv doesnt allow you to scroll down if the guide info has more than a certain amount of characters.

happy so far. kids will be really happy, gonna go out and get another one soon, trying to see if i can score it for less then $5 otd.
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post #274 of 541 Old 11-30-2008, 05:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by electrictroy View Post

I have one coupon left. Where can I buy an APEX tuner for as cheaply as possible?

If you still have that coupon, you can head to Tigerdirect.com or Compusa.com to get DT502.
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post #275 of 541 Old 12-03-2008, 08:35 AM
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Thanks to a poster above - and thank you, poster above! - I read through the 9550 thread and decided to try one out.

I recently bought the Zenith 901, so this is my second coupon purchase.

My "big" TV is an older 31" RCA CRT SD, connected to the box with coax and A/V cables, so I won't try to compare picture or sound quality between the two boxes. They both look great, much improved over analog.

Points of interest:

The 9550 is now Energy Star labeled. So far, no temp issues, even after 4 hours constant on. The Radio Shack kid wrongly assured me that the 901 is not - confirming that you have to do your own research if you want to get the facts.

Running from the same rooftop combo antenna, I was surprised to see that the 901 picks up a station when connected to my bedroom TV - a bottom line 19" Phillips with only coax connection - that it wouldn't on the RCA. Meanwhile, another station that came in well on the RCA through the 901 sometimes breaks up on the Phillips. Go figure. Too many variables to say why. The RCA is connected to an amplifier/splitter, so that could be it. Or does the TV's internals affect a converter box's performance? I don't know.

I think that actual A/V performance is hard to gauge on my sets. Maybe time will reveal more differences. But I'd give the clear convenience edge to the 9550 so far:

Much better extended program guide.
Faster channel change via remote, although actual implementation is delayed on both boxes, and probably takes about as long. (There is a mildly bothersome electronic "click" on the 9550 when the new signal comes in.)
Much faster box volume control on remote.
TV volume control on remote.
Remote larger and more convenient. (901 remote will disappear into any gap in our seating.)
Signal Strength uses color band and numbers - much preferred.
Zoom feature terminology is more understandable: "16:9, 14:9, Zoom, Anamorphic".
901 is "Set by Program, Letterbox, Cropped,Squeezed."
Much more thorough manual (such as explaining the options above).

Other points of interest:

Just from tooling around (haven't thoroughly read either manual), it does seem that while you can speed up the 901 lock on a new channel by hitting the central, round button, this may slightly speed up the lock on the 9550, but it also brings up the display, so you have to hit it again to turn that off.

On my coax only Phillips, where I have to use channel 3 rather than Input to employ a box, it appears that the 901 has the effect of degrading the antenna signal strength. Normal reception is better without the box in the signal path. This didn't seem to be the case with the 901 and the RCA, where I use Input to go from analog to digital.

I haven't tried this with the 9550 on the same TV, but I'm guessing that it has more to do with relying on coax only than with the box itself. But this could matter to some, because Pass Through on the 901 means turning the unit off, where the 9550 has a button on the remote for this. If you're using the Input button, I don't think any of this will be a factor.

So far, I'm very impressed with the 9550.
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post #276 of 541 Old 12-05-2008, 11:55 PM
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Almost a year ago, I bought a ZenithDTT900, I guess it is, and was fairly happy with it. I chose this one based upon features at the time and in view of my "deep fringe" location. Based upon what I read in this forum and elsewhere on the web, I bought a pair of CM-7000's expecting better tuner sensitivity. The disappointment has been unexpected and unimaginable.
There are a few "local" channels in my area and four transmit from the same tower with comparable signal strength (all yellowzone per antennaweb). Of these I can get all but the PBS channel (freq. assignment Ch9.) This channel works fine on the Zenith and with the ATSC tuner in my Samsumg plasma. In fact using the signal strength meter in the Zenith, I used the antenna rotator to maximize the signal. If you are not familiar with the Zenith, there is an audio marker which becomes a constant tone when a strong signal is present. So it responds with my PBS local channel. Even at this optimized antenna orientation, the CM-7000 is unable to detect it on the UPDATE scan. Thinking surely there must be some bizarre anomalous trap in this particular unit, I cracked the other box open and installed it. The result was identical. By the way, other weak channels fare about as well with this one as the Zenith. But combining this flaw with the horrid little OSD strip and lack of "on/off" control for the TV, and I would find it hard to recommend this unit over the Zenith to anyone.
By the way I have no hatred for CM overall. I had a great antenna from them for years. I write this only because, had I seen such a post in this NG, I would be a happier guy today with a house full o Zenith DTT901's.
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post #277 of 541 Old 12-06-2008, 01:18 AM
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???? The Zenith is the number one rated and recommended box on this thread. Didn't you read through the whole thing?
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post #278 of 541 Old 12-07-2008, 06:45 PM
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Yes. But most of the comparisons of the 2 indicated that the CM has greater sensitivity. In my area, that concern is paramount.
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post #279 of 541 Old 12-08-2008, 01:35 AM
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Most people find that it usually does - when it's working right.

Just how "fringe" are you actually? The CM does have a tendency to overload fairly easily.
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post #280 of 541 Old 12-13-2008, 04:47 PM
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I've been entrusted with coupons from my immediate and extended family. With ten coupons in hand I made these purchasing decisions:

(2) Zenith DTT900 (both from April production)
(6) Zenith DTT901 (two from April, one each from May, June, August and September production)
(2) Zinwell ZAT-970A (both with 0829 production codes)

Most of the Zeniths were purchased at Bi-Mart or KMart for $49.99. Both Zinwells were purchased at Albertsons, the first for $49.99, the second for $40.00. The final purchase was a Zenith DTT901 purchased today at KMart for $49.99.

This is how I "voted."

"A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WILL SMELL AS SWEET. BUT IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT WHATEVER WE CHOOSE TO CALL A ROSE WILL POSSESS THE ROSE'S FRAGRANCE."

--Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1917)
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post #281 of 541 Old 12-14-2008, 05:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ceprise View Post

MyCuz thinks that a new battery will fire her up, but I'm concerned about the tires. I also have access to my Uncle Lou's '67 Plymouth Belvedere. MoPar vs. GMC? They are both intermediates. Does anyone know what was the 1967 intermediate Buick?

Sure, in 1967 intermediate Buick was Skylark. Would be called full size now.
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post #282 of 541 Old 12-23-2008, 10:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Updated Tally 12/24/08

Best
Zenith / Insignia – 34
Channel Master – 17 (note this unit was not available until the Zenith already had 15 ‘best’ votes)
Digital Stream - 9
DTVPal - 3
Tivax - 3
Apex - 2
Artec – 2
RCA -1
Coship – 1
Zinwell -1
Sunkey - 1
Samsonic - 1

Worst
DTVPal - 5
Sunkey -2
Magnavox - 2
GE - 2
Digital Stream - 2
Philco - 1
Zenith / Insignia – 1
Apex - 1
Channel Master -1

'Better Living Through Modern, Expensive, Electronic Devices'

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post #283 of 541 Old 12-24-2008, 07:06 AM
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Wow..a bazillion threads on here with every good (and some dumb) questions about CECB's and yet less that 100 votes in the poll.

Bob

The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the FOX,ABC,CBS,or CW Networks,MeTv, my employer or its parent company. Nor my wife for that matter!
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post #284 of 541 Old 12-24-2008, 07:49 AM
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Zenith for me (and my mother since I bought hers as well). Happy so far.
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post #285 of 541 Old 12-24-2008, 09:32 AM
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Apex 502 for me. Only have the one box but it certainly meets my needs. Provides an outstanding picture (for 480i) on both composite and s-video connections. Tested on three tvs. The overscan issue was fixed from the earlier 250 version. I have a direct comparison as one of my networks has both a HD and SD feed. When I set the APEX to full screen on the HD channel, I can see everything that is on the SD channel. For example, some commercials have small text at the bottom of the screen. With overscan, you lose some or all of the text. The APEX 502 handles it correctly and no text is lost. I will purchase a second APEX with my last card. Why? Works well and available locally. I had been leaning toward a CM 7000 for its supposed best picture quality but given my results, I don't see how it could have better picture quality on s-video than the APEX. Maybe match, but not exceed. IMO.
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post #286 of 541 Old 12-24-2008, 09:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdfox18doe View Post

Wow..a bazillion threads on here with every good (and some dumb) questions about CECB's and yet less that 100 votes in the poll.

You can lead a dope to water, but you can't make'em read.

Translation - Most forum users do not know how to use the forum to its best advantage. The 'sticky' topics in each of the HDTV forums provide answers to a very high majority of the issues readers have when coming here.

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post #287 of 541 Old 12-24-2008, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IDRick View Post

Works well and available locally. I had been leaning toward a CM 7000 for its supposed best picture quality but given my results, I don't see how it could have better picture quality on s-video than the APEX. Maybe match, but not exceed. IMO.

I think some people here who have compared them have said it's slightly better.

They pretty much rated the 250 Apex's s-video output to be about equal to the Zenith's composite. But that may have improved some with the 502 - I'm not sure.

If your TV's under 27", you're probably not going to notice anyway.
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post #288 of 541 Old 12-24-2008, 11:13 AM
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I have a 502, **NOT** a 250. Has anyone compared the CM7000 and the 502?

You bring up a good point on which tvs were used to evaluate the APEX 502. Two were small Panasonics but the third was a 32 inch Sony HD ready tv. The Sony has marvelous picture quality for both HD and SD signal. It will give you a great picture if you give it a great signal. SD from the APEX equaled our SD digital picture from cable. Please, PQ is important to me and I love the quality from our Sony and from our cable co. To match our digital cable SD is an indication of an outstanding performance from the APEX box. Like I said, I don't believe that the CM7000 could beat it on this tv. Likely it would match (if it is as good as people say). Being able to purchase locally and dealing with a local retailer if there are issues are two additional pluses for the APEX over the CM7000.
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post #289 of 541 Old 12-24-2008, 01:32 PM
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I posted in this thread, back when the DT502 first came out, that it was the best I had tested and it's still not represented in the "Best" list.

At the time, I compared it to the -APT, 9950, Venturer, and DT250. See the link in my Sig.
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post #290 of 541 Old 12-24-2008, 10:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by systems2000 View Post

I posted in this thread, back when the DT502 first came out, that it was the best I had tested and it's still not represented in the "Best" list.

Should have said something earlier, it's there now.

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post #291 of 541 Old 12-26-2008, 10:41 AM
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Another vote here for Zen DTT901 (bought two, so would that count as two votes.. ).

Superb and VIVID PQ/hd signals especially connected with double shielded/low loss composite Monster cables for output and Monster RF for signal input. 56 channels with Terk HDTVa + Motorola Drop Amp Broadband Signal Booster in LA County.

Update 1/3/09: I now get a total of 60 channels. Apparently, the metallic element of the Terk wasn't securely on the unit...and has to be "pushed" all the way in the antennae slot thingamajig...
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post #292 of 541 Old 12-26-2008, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by systems2000 View Post

I posted in this thread, back when the DT502 first came out, that it was the best I had tested and it's still not represented in the "Best" list..


Those seem to be the same box as the RJTech. At least with the one I have on hand. The RJ with smart antenna would not see the local PBS on VHF 11, but would take it if manually entered.

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post #293 of 541 Old 12-26-2008, 09:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

it's there now.

Thanks!
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post #294 of 541 Old 12-28-2008, 02:26 AM
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Near the beginning of 2007 I ordered my 2 government coupons because I read a Dish Network ad that stated their TR-40 would be available in a few weeks. (NOTE: The TR-40 and the DTV Pal are the exact same converter box, but I did not know it at the time.) I had just researched all converter boxes on the government site and found that ONLY the TR-40 had a program "timer" and it also promised to be sold for $39.99. I waited for months for the TR-40 to be released and called the Dish Network numerous times who would only say the TR-40 was not yet available. They did however offer me a DTV Pal for $60.00 and said it also had a timer. We are very poor and I did not have the extra money so I waited...for 8 months till the TR-40 was finally released. By then I found that my coupons had expired, but was able to get a pair from a neighbor who did not need his. I ordered my two TR-40s and through an error at Dish Network I received one TR-40 and one DTV Pal. Except for the outer box and the logo screen printed on each unit, THEY WERE IDENTICAL! If you looked at the back of both units they both had the EXACT same model number which is, "ID035". This meant that Dish Network lied. They had the TR-40 available all along, but apparently had been to greedy to sell it at $40 as promised so they deliberately delayed release as the TR-40, renamed it as a DTV Pal and sold it for $60.... and it gets worse.
Once I received my two units I installed them exactly as per the instructions. I have an outdoor color TV antenna and an antenna rotator on a 28' pole at my home and have always had great analog reception, but when the DTV Pal was turned on, all channels went a little fuzzy. The set up procedure on the DTV Pal has a signal strength indicator for setting up the antenna for best reception, but it is all screwed up. We get channel analog 2, 8, 11, 13, and so on. When using the antenna strength indicator it showed I had near perfect reception on channel 3, 9 & 10 which are not even channels in our area, but it showed NO SIGNAL at all on 2, 8, 11, and 13. This made the antenna strength indicator feature useless. I then found out that the DTV Pal blocked my Panasonic DMR-E85H DVD recorder from receiving any over-the-air TV Guide programming. The DTV Pal instructions said to "disable the digital features" on the DTV Pal to allow the TV Guide programming to get through to my DVD Recorder, but this does not work. It also said to use a G-link cable to get my DVD Recorder to tell my DVT Pal when to change channels to the correct one for recording from that channel. This does not work. For weeks I have called and talked to Level 1, 2 and 3 tech support at Dish Network and kept getting nothing but basic information on hooking up the antenna cables. One tech would tell me opposite from the next. On many points I corrected the techs on things they did not know, and all I had was the instruction book to go from. Just before Christmas 2008 an "Advanced Level 3 Tech" admitted that they had no training other than how to hook up the antenna cables! They had not even read the instruction book! My conclusion is that the DTV Pal and the TR-40 are junk and the people at Dish network are nothing but greedy liars. I would love to hear responses to my comments or better yet, anyone one who knows how to set up a DTV Pal to allow for TV Guide programming and the G-link cable to work with a DVD recorder. Thanks, James.
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post #295 of 541 Old 12-28-2008, 06:08 AM
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My "$40" DTvPal works quite well.

Bob

The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the FOX,ABC,CBS,or CW Networks,MeTv, my employer or its parent company. Nor my wife for that matter!
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post #296 of 541 Old 12-28-2008, 08:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesGalyon View Post

I would love to hear responses to my comments or better yet, anyone one who knows how to set up a DTV Pal to allow for TV Guide programming and the G-link cable to work with a DVD recorder. Thanks, James.

There is an entire topic devoted to this unit. Try looking for answers there. http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1001979

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post #297 of 541 Old 12-28-2008, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdfox18doe View Post

My "$40" DTvPal works quite well.

Are you using the timers regularly or trying to get the TVGOS feature to work?

Really, the box doesn't do certain things it's supposed to do (or at least do them dependably), it's flawed and buggy, and has so-so PQ. I guess if all you're doing is just turning it on, changing the channels and watching it, it can seem perfectly fine. And that's if that stupid program info download doesn't take place everytime you turn the thing on, like it does for me and many others.
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post #298 of 541 Old 12-28-2008, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesGalyon View Post

I would love to hear responses to my comments or better yet, anyone one who knows how to set up a DTV Pal to allow for TV Guide programming and the G-link cable to work with a DVD recorder.

Save yourself the trouble of researching, because it doesn't work for anyone. At least not yet.
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post #299 of 541 Old 12-28-2008, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

There is an entire topic devoted to this unit. Try looking for answers there. http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1001979

James,

There are more than 5,500 posts and nearly half a million viewings of posts in that thread. You are not alone.

"A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WILL SMELL AS SWEET. BUT IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT WHATEVER WE CHOOSE TO CALL A ROSE WILL POSSESS THE ROSE'S FRAGRANCE."

--Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1917)
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post #300 of 541 Old 12-28-2008, 02:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

Really, the box doesn't do certain things it's supposed to do (or at least do them dependably), it's flawed and buggy, and has so-so PQ..

Having been heavily involved in DTV and it's development since 1997,I know enough not to expect any of these boxes to always work "right" especially considering the cost of the boxes and the complexity of DTV and it's myriad of various consumer needs... Of the huge pile of these converters I have, none do everything exceptionally well, some don't even come close.
(Know many consumer electronic devices that work 100% flawlessly all the time and need no improvement?) How many of those $40 DVD players work flawlessly?

People need to get real and accept these boxes for what they are: low cost; virtually no profit margin; temporary solutions that cost ~$40 or so. They're not designed by the people who market them, and the engineers who do design them are like many of us who are subject to a number on a spreadsheet dictated by bean counters.
They're a product mandated by the "fedrul gubmint" to sell for $40.
(I have a friend who is on the engineering staff of the company that makes one of the more popular boxes so I am aware of the mfg's side).

Yea, it shouldn't be advertised as a Cadillac when in fact it's a friggin' Yugo.
And if they can;t make some functions work, then they should not enable them. However I do have several HDTV's that don't work as well as some of these converter boxes.

Ok, Rant mode off.

Bob

The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the FOX,ABC,CBS,or CW Networks,MeTv, my employer or its parent company. Nor my wife for that matter!
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