Sunkey SK-801ATSC - AVS Forum
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Coupon Eligible Converter Box (CECB) > Sunkey SK-801ATSC
Symbios's Avatar Symbios 10:01 PM 09-13-2008
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...








biker19's Avatar biker19 12:40 AM 09-14-2008
Thanks for the review. Does any other CECB have this Samsung tuner? The tuner is probably the same one used in its TVs - which means that with a software hack this thing could probably do QAM (probably true of other CECBs).
eyager's Avatar eyager 08:36 AM 09-14-2008
The EPG doesn't look too bad. Does it retain EPG information from other channels that were previously tuned, or is the EPG data limited to the current channel only? Is EPG data retained after powering it off? The box is using military time which is the norm in Asia, but not the USA. The programmers might not be versed in the concept of daylight savings time. I've have an HD tuner from tawain that could not properly handle daylight savings time.
pm3839's Avatar pm3839 11:11 AM 09-14-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Symbios View Post

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.
.................
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. ..........

Overall, it's a decent box, but could use a lot of improvements in the software department.............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...

thanks for the review and all the great pics! nice job...

one thing i dont understand are the PQ (picture quality) complaints about some boxes, like the DTVPAL/TR40 that u and others have mentioned....i am not a video fanatic but i would guess that am more critical than most people about such things....and i am former broadband/cable tv headend design engineer so i know what to look for and i would not excuse poor PQ or audio performance....i just got a TR40 and its PQ looks fine to me....and i have to believe that most if not all the other cecb boxes out there have similar PQ.... i am using it on an old (but still working very well) 26 inch SONY tv through its tuner on ch 3....no video inputs on this old tv....maybe on a much larger screen or a late model plasma tv it wouldnt look so good, i dont know....

for anyone else looking for other low cost boxes i think the ARTEC model (and its generic cousin, i dont remember the brand right now, ez to spot because of the strangely placed round control buttons in the top center of the unit) might be another decent low cost unit to look for....
Symbios's Avatar Symbios 01:24 PM 09-14-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by biker19 View Post

Thanks for the review. Does any other CECB have this Samsung tuner? The tuner is probably the same one used in its TVs - which means that with a software hack this thing could probably do QAM (probably true of other CECBs).

This is the first CECB I've seen with a Samsung tuner. I thought the same thing about it probably being the same tuner used in their TV's.


Quote:
Originally Posted by eyager View Post

The EPG doesn't look too bad. Does it retain EPG information from other channels that were previously tuned, or is the EPG data limited to the current channel only? Is EPG data retained after powering it off?

Nope, the guide data is not cached at all. I don't think it has the memory for it. If all you do is change the page, it has to re-download. Kind of annoying, but it only takes a second.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pm3839 View Post

thanks for the review and all the great pics! nice job...

one thing i dont understand are the PQ (picture quality) complaints about some boxes, like the DTVPAL/TR40 that u and others have mentioned....i am not a video fanatic but i would guess that am more critical than most people about such things....and i am former broadband/cable tv headend design engineer so i know what to look for and i would not excuse poor PQ or audio performance....i just got a TR40 and its PQ looks fine to me....and i have to believe that most if not all the other cecb boxes out there have similar PQ.... i am using it on an old (but still working very well) 26 inch SONY tv through its tuner on ch 3....no video inputs on this old tv....maybe on a much larger screen or a late model plasma tv it wouldnt look so good, i dont know....

Thank you!

It's very hard to see how soft the picture is through the TR40's RF output because it's so noisy. But trust me, through composite it's very soft. With the TR40, it looks almost exactly like watching a VHS tape, while the SK-801 looks similar to watching a DVD over composite.
Rammitinski's Avatar Rammitinski 02:16 AM 09-15-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Symbios View Post

It's very hard to see how soft the picture is through the TR40's RF output because it's so noisy. But trust me, through composite it's very soft. With the TR40, it looks almost exactly like watching a VHS tape....

So you're saying it hasn't basically improved much from the earlier DTVPal versions then, right?

I ask because there were one or two people here who claimed that it was improved in the newer TR-40's.
biker19's Avatar biker19 03:48 AM 09-15-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

So you're saying it hasn't basically improved much from the earlier DTVPal versions then, right?

I ask because there were one or two people here who claimed that it was improved in the newer TR-40's.

How could it? It's the same board hardware wise and I doubt much could be done for PQ in firmware.
Rammitinski's Avatar Rammitinski 12:28 PM 09-15-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by biker19 View Post

How could it? It's the same board hardware wise and I doubt much could be done for PQ in firmware.

I knew that - I just wanted to draw attention to his statement in case anybody here missed it.
slprp1's Avatar slprp1 06:49 PM 09-15-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Symbios View Post

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...








......The on screen displays look identical to the Apex 520/250 boxes.
Since the hardware specified is different......who knows what to expect from this box?
Symbios's Avatar Symbios 09:50 PM 09-15-2008
You're right. I knew I had seen this interface somewhere before... They seem to be running the same firmware. Even the version numbers are the same, except the Sunkey seems to be running a slightly newer build.

I would guess both boxes use Realtek CPUs and are running slightly customized reference firmware provided by Realtek.
hchaudio's Avatar hchaudio 11:46 PM 09-19-2008
Thanks for taking the time to give such detailed info on this box, Symbios!
I'm planning on using one of my coupons for a converter for my battery powered 'storm' tv. This one looks like a good candidate, since it uses a 12V wallwart power supply. I can't quite tell from your pictures-- is the power jack on the unit a standard looking coaxial barrel connector? That would make it easy to power from a battery pack. Seems to have the necessary channel select buttons on the chassiss.
Hchaudio
Symbios's Avatar Symbios 12:09 AM 09-20-2008
Yes, it's a very common size barrel connector.
may_queen's Avatar may_queen 10:39 AM 09-29-2008
Hello Symbios,

I read your review with good interest and appreciation! How has your experience been in the couple of weeks with this box? Do you still recommend it?

I bought Tr40 and wasn't really impressed with the video quality or reception so far. Of course, it does have best gui/guide, imho.

Thanks!
electrictroy's Avatar electrictroy 10:55 AM 09-29-2008
One thing this review does not discuss is:

- Sensitivity (number of channels) versus a Zenith, Insignia, or Channel Master unit (known for being among the most-sensitive).
Symbios's Avatar Symbios 11:16 AM 09-29-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by may_queen View Post

Hello Symbios,

I read your review with good interest and appreciation! How has your experience been in the couple of weeks with this box? Do you still recommend it?

I bought Tr40 and wasn't really impressed with the video quality or reception so far. Of course, it does have best gui/guide, imho.

Thanks!

For the price, I still recommend it. There are definitly better boxes out there if you're willing to spend a little more. For the price I paid, of course I'm still happy with the box. The only thing that really annoys me is the box is a little sluggish. I'd say there's about a 500ms-700ms delay before the box responds to a command.

Quote:
Originally Posted by electrictroy View Post

One thing this review does not discuss is:

- Sensitivity (number of channels) versus a Zenith, Insignia, or Channel Master unit (known for being among the most-sensitive).

Couldn't tell ya. I don't own any of those units. The only thing I have to compare it to is a DTVPal and a circa 2005 Humax HD tuner. The Sunkey's sensitivity is almost identical to the DTVPal and both units put my Humax tuner to shame.
electrictroy's Avatar electrictroy 12:23 PM 09-29-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Symbios View Post

The Sunkey's sensitivity is almost identical to the DTVPal.....

So it's "poor."

I have 3 DTVpals and they are all vastly inferior to the Zenith or CM boxes. If I try to use a DTVpal with rabbit ears/UHF loop, it's a little like watching time-lapse photography.
systems2000's Avatar systems2000 06:16 AM 09-30-2008
The APEX DT250 uses a much simpler interface. The software is also used in the Zentech DF2000, GE 22730, & the Goodmind DTA1000.
Rammitinski's Avatar Rammitinski 12:04 PM 09-30-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by may_queen View Post

I bought Tr40 and wasn't really impressed with the video quality..

Then you need to stop watching it on a large, HD display (or so some here would say).
electrictroy's Avatar electrictroy 12:08 PM 09-30-2008
Quote:


(or so some here would say)

(laughs out loud)
may_queen's Avatar may_queen 12:26 PM 09-30-2008
hmm.. Its on a 27" Sony. haven't dared to use it with a bigger screen!!! but 27" could be also considered big screen... ha ha ... perspectives.....

now, for the serious side, i am using a Tivax on a 40" rear-projection hd-ready Sony and can't complain about the video quality!!!

and, that tr40 on 27" Sony does a fine job of displaying digital content translated into some water colored paintings pretty well.... oh well!!!
biker19's Avatar biker19 10:49 AM 10-24-2008
If you have 2 coupons you can get 2 of these free at freetvsignal.com.
Rammitinski's Avatar Rammitinski 12:17 AM 10-25-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by may_queen View Post

..and, that tr40 on 27" Sony does a fine job of displaying digital content translated into some water colored paintings pretty well..

Good analogy - but the painter looks like he had a hard time staying within the lines.
systems2000's Avatar systems2000 12:42 PM 10-26-2008
Does anyone have the ability to compare the # of channels received and time to scan, with other units like the 901/-APT or the RCA 800b1?
systems2000's Avatar systems2000 06:23 AM 10-27-2008
Symbios,

Do you have a photo of the remote? How far from the transmitters are you?

Looking at the photos of the DT502, I wonder if the DT502 can be modified to have Up/Down controls on the box and S-Video added to this unit?
Symbios's Avatar Symbios 02:50 PM 10-27-2008
Here's an image of the remote: http://www.digital-tv-converter.net/...remote_lrg.jpg

I'm about 40 miles from most of the transmitters here.
systems2000's Avatar systems2000 03:50 PM 10-27-2008
At 40 miles, there doesn't seem to be sensitivity problems like those who are much closer and those of us like me at the outer fringes. I like that remote. Do the arrows control the Volume and Channels?

I ordered two from http://www.freetvsignal.com/ and will give feedback when I get them tested. I had two coupons expiring on the 30th and since it appears there's some potential with this box, I threw caution to the wind and spent $0.00 to get them. Don't worry I still have four coupons with potential to get four o more.
pm3839's Avatar pm3839 10:28 AM 11-01-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Symbios View Post

I was recently given a $40 government coupon because it expired in 12 hours,.....so I figured I'd have a little fun and just buy some random box online. I chose the Sunkey SK-801ATSC......I received it yesterday and have been playing with it quite a bit. For such a cheap unit, the 801 actually looks pretty sharp........

2 questions for u, Symbios...or for anyone else who has this Sunkey SK-801ATSC box >

does the remote have a 'CHANNEL RECALL' aka 'CHANNEL JUMP' function?
i saw the pic of the remote and did not see such a button but i'm wondering if 'CHANNEL RECALL' is still possible somehow thats not apparent from the pic. its a very useful thing to have on any tuner.

also, does anyone know of a web link to the owners manual for this box?

and thanks again for your review, Symbios.....nice job
systems2000's Avatar systems2000 12:15 PM 11-01-2008
The two I ordered got shipped yesterday by USPS. I was hoping to have them by yesterday, since I ordered them on Monday. I'll post when I get a chance to check one out.
tvmanplus's Avatar tvmanplus 08:48 PM 11-01-2008
pm3839

I found the manual here
freetvsignal.com/manual/sunkey.pdf

I am happy to say that I got my 2 free sunkeys in the mail today.
pm3839's Avatar pm3839 06:08 AM 11-02-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by tvmanplus View Post

pm3839
I found the manual here
freetvsignal.com/manual/sunkey.pdf

I am happy to say that I got my 2 free sunkeys in the mail today.

thanks, tvmanplus! please give us a review of it asap....

looks like no CHANNEL RECALL function on the remote....oh well....sure would be nice tho....

and hey....should we be worried that SUNKEY used a trial version of the pdf software to make that manual?...lol....and that the menu screens have 2001 dates? meaning they first developed this box 7 years ago?....lol....wow....but on the plus side, maybe that means all the bugs have been worked out!?
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