I was recently given a $40 government coupon because it expired in 12 hours, and the person didn't need it. I didn't really need another box, as I have 3 DTVPals... But I'm not one to turn down free stuff, so I figured I'd have a little fun and just buy some random box online. I chose the Sunkey SK-801ATSC simply because it was cheap and I've never seen anyone mention it here.
I received it yesterday and have been playing with it quite a bit. For such a cheap unit, the 801 actually looks pretty sharp. It's about the size of a DSL modem, and has plenty of ventilation holes (something which a lot of other boxes seem to lack). The front panel has 3 of the most essential buttons needed should you lose the remote (channel up/down and power).
The remote is very awkward to hold. It's too flat, and too wide. You'll probably want to use a universal remote if you buy this thing. It seems like logic was tossed aside when they designed the remote, the button placement just makes no sense. I love how the channel and volume buttons were placed on the very bottom, as if they're something you'll rarely use. Fortunately, the arrow keys can also be used to change the channel/volume, so it's not the end of world.
When you first plug it in, it asks some questions and then scans for all available channels in the area. It doesn't waste any time doing this either, I was surprised by how quickly it scans. The Samsung tuner seems decent; it found every channel my DTVPal did, anyway. The signal meter is nice, it shows signal quality and signal strength, and stays up for as long as you need it.
PQ is very good. Miles ahead of the DTVPal. I think this is about as good as it gets over composite. If only it had S-video... The box also has analog passthrough, which works when it's off.
The GUI is about as basic as they come. There's not much to say about it, it's blue and full of text... It was clearly designed by a programmer, and not a graphics designer (the EPG is listed under Apps in the menu. It doesn't get much more nerdy than that). One thing that really annoys me is it doesn't display show titles as you change channels. It just shows a channel number in the top left corner, just like they did in ye olde days of analog TV...
If the picture appears off-center, or parts of it are cut off by your TV, there's actually a service menu where you can adjust vertical and horizontal position as well as horizontal and vertical size, which is pretty cool. I don't know of any other box that lets you do this.
Overall, it's a decent box, but could use a lot of improvements in the software department... It has a 4 pin header on the motherboard (which is accessible via a small cover at the bottom of the unit), which perhaps could be used for firmware updates.
If you're looking for a solid no-frills cheap box, go for it. But if you're looking for a user friendly box, or one grandma can actually use, you might want to look elsewhere.
BTW, I got this box from Happy Iguana for $13.99 shipped, after coupon. They include a subscription for 57 issues of TV Guide (for free, supposedly...), which you can cancel by mailing a form to them. If you do this, they'll send you a refund check for $10. If I actually ever get that check, the total cost of this box will be $3.99. Not bad...