A friend purchased the new DS DTX9950 from RS on Wednesday and loaned it to me last night. I did a number of comparison tests between it and the RCA DTA800B. (I also have a Tivax I will do a subsequent comparsion with).
I was able to successfuly interface it with my ReplayTV 3000 having it IR blast and change the channels automatically from the guide.
Use IR blaster code 749, 819, 899, 8749 or 9749 to control it from the Replay! More info in the CECB/ReplayTV interface thread here: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...1#post13596501
Here's my review:
Preface: I have used the RCA DTA800B and the Tivax STB-T9 boxes already. I did this comparsion directly between the RCA and the DS last night (for signal strength) as the Tivax is on loan to someone else right now. All tests were done with line out, to a Panasonic Plasma (and also again through a ReplayTV to a 8 year old Panasonic CRT)
+ MUCH stronger tuner sensitivity (see table at the bottom) than the RCA. More stations were watchable without freezing/blocking than the RCA. (Tested with in-room UHF bowtie antenna and with in-attic VHF+UHF antenna)
+ On screen text did not jump from interlace issues (unlike the Tivax)
+ Never had the unit lockup due to bad signal (unlike the RCA which requires a reboot)
+ Never had it lose the audio signal due to bad signal (unlike the RCA which requires a reboot to bring audio back)
+ Lots of menu options for things like color, opacity, etc..
+ 3 ways to get signal strength: Button on remote bringing up dialog with large gauge, a gauge in the info box after selecting a channel/pressing OK, or a smaller meter in the menu
+ I *THINK* there was no LG dolby digital left channel bug. Not personally owning a bad Zenith/Insignia, I don't know for sure, but tested both during NBC Nightly news and a later DD show, I could not hear a difference between left and right channel hissing on the high end (and I can still hear a CRT's 15.75Khz scan rate). My serial label seemed to show a May build date, which might mean it's fixed since the Zenith's with April dates are known fixed.
+ Has the analog pass through. Press a button centered in the remote and it switches to analog, press again and the digital output is back. Didn't test the actual signal strength / db loss though.
+ Press . and then you can enter a direct RF frequency, not the mapped digital one !
+ Setup menu has an Update as well as Rescan option. No more blowing away your already found stations.
~ The CBS eye logo appeared sharper but more jagged than it did on the RCA that looked softer but much less jaggies. Scaler must be different. I prefered the softer look on the RCA but others might like the sharper look. It was not as bad as the known bad GE scaler that pictures have been posted showing it's blockiness.
~ Didn't really care for layout of some parts on the remote and the need to press Menu to exit (no Exit/cancel button)
~ Menu seemed very basic athetically. Too large of text, many things may not be clear to a novice. (As compared to the Tivax or RCA that has longer descriptions, and the Tivax makes better use of color/graphics to help where the RCA uses a lot more text)
~ Scan for digitals went above channel 51 all the way to 69. Interesting since nothing above 51 will exist in 6 months.
- Many remote buttons much smaller than the RCA. Most are not Funai sized but still too small on a few, about right on others.
- Volume / Channel for the CECB used same raised rubber on the buttons, so hard to tell without looking which side does what especially when it's different from your other remotes.
- TV Control on very top for volume is reversed from logical order (+ on left, - on right) and buttons are the smallest on the remote
- 4 second delay after entering a channel and having it selected if I didn't press "OK". (An issue with interfacing it with a PVR that just sends the channel code alone)
- When changing a channel a super large text block showing the channel # appears. No information other than channel number and call letters. Other boxes give much more info like show title, signal strength, etc.. You have to press OK to bring this up afterwards if you want to see it.
- On screen display circles seemed very jagged. No dithering
- On screen text was very blocky/pixelated
- Unit got VERY VERY hot after a short time of use. An IR thermometer showed the tuner box area / external F connector posts reached 119 degrees! (The RCA hit about 104). You could lightly burn yourself unscrewing a coax cable after it's been on if it got any hotter.
- No beeping sound from signal strength meter
- Meter seemed to be delayed by about 5 seconds from actual turn of antenna. (the video reacted immediately but the meter didn't change until about 5 seconds later. Makes it harder to tweak an antenna quickly)
- Could not change aspect ratio on MANY sources. Seemed to lock it into the only one it thought was best depending on the program watched. (Must be paying too much attention to a 'default' ratio metadata that is sent with the broadcast.
- Had to press the aspect ratio button twice to change.. once to bring up the current, again to force it to change.
- Had menu option to select the default output: Lineout or RF. With Lineout selected, the volume level on line out actually dropped by about 50%. If I selected RF, but was still feeding Lineout, then the signal level was full and matched other boxes/components. VERY strange.
- The EPG only shows for the current channel. You cannot change the channel within the guide. You must exit the guide, change the channel then bring up the guide again. Very annoying. It's nice to see about 10 hours in advance on the guide, but it's for the current station only so you can't compare from the current to others without multiple button presses and actual channel change to the signal. The RCA is much better for this.
- Overscans the top and bottom (clips them off when showing in Zoom mode, and although detailed examination wasn't done with a test signal it seems to clip a few pixel rows off regardless of aspect ratio mode, including postage stamp)
- Frequent loss of sync. 2-3 times an hour got a bluescreen appearing for a millisecond when connected to my Replay, or a black/frozen frame when connected directly to my plasma. Note: This was even when signal strength was in the high 80's with no other noticeable pixelation/low signal issues. Another poster noted the same thing in another thread as well.
= Cuttoff between stable picture and dropouts/freezing seemed to be somewhere between 30 and 40 on the signal gauge (vs around 15 on the RCA)
Signal strength comparisons between RCA and the DS:
In order, the below signal level numbers represent UHF frequencies of: 38, 21, 44, 23, 19, all but 19 were in the same compass heading, 19 was about 180 degrees from those. All about 40 miles away.
Bowtie next to TV (took extra care to not move cables, boxes, change where I was sitting to ensure equal comparison between boxes)
RCA: 50-55, 71-74, 36-43, 54-55, 21-28
D-S: 78-82, 72-75, 53-67, 80-86, 52-60
Attic VHF + UHF antenna with long RG59 run to the room, pointed at the primary 4 frequencies towers. Luck that it picks up any of the digital signals.
RCA: 10-14, 41-51, 10-12, 16-22, 38-42
D-S: 21-28, 71-77, 15-22, 28-36, 69-74
As you can see the sensitivity off the same antennas is MUCH greater on the DigitalStream than the RCA. However the RCA gives a pretty good signal until it's around 15-20 levels. The DigitalStream starts breaking up between 30 and 40 levels.
Edit: 6/23 Added note regarding loss of sync signal