Zenith vs. Channel Master CECB - which is better? - AVS Forum

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Coupon Eligible Converter Box (CECB)

electrictroy's Avatar electrictroy
05:26 AM Liked: 10
post #1 of 18
09-15-2008 | Posts: 776
Joined: Jul 2008
My parents are depending upon me to help them switch to DTV in February 2009. (I'm sure many of ye also have people who need your help.) Since my parents use nothing more than rabbit ears + UHF loop, I need to get the most-sensitive box possible in order to pickup weak signals. Right now I'm torn between the Zenith DTT900 and Channel Master CM7000.

Based upon my own tests, it's a bit of a tossup. Both have excellent tuners that surpass the other tuners I have tested (Hisense, DTVpal, Zinwell), but they do not act identically. The Zenith senses at least one channel (PBS33) the CM does not. However the CM handles noise better on weak channels (WGAL8), reconstructing a viewable image while the Zenith freezes for one-two seconds (very frustrating). So the Zenith can get an extra channel, but the CM has better noise-handling and watchability.

One advantage of the Zenith is the better tuning bar that shows a "bad" signal is present, while the CM shows no signal whatsoever (0%). The Zenith's indication of a weak signal helps the viewer adjust the antenna.

So:

For those who have BOTH boxes, what kind of results did you get for your channels?
finlay648's Avatar finlay648
12:37 PM Liked: 10
post #2 of 18
09-15-2008 | Posts: 77
Joined: Apr 2008
I haven't found much difference in sensitivity or ability to reject multipath. I'm 70-90 miles from the broadcast towers but mostly LOS through some trees.

I find the features of the Zenith better and the annoyances less. The only advantage for the CM is the S-video output and the remote. The signal strength meter on the CM is much less useful than the Zenith's. The remote on the Zenith is small and hard to read in low light; the CM remote is larger and easier to use. A universal remote might help.

The CM has the annoying habit of losing a signal and then popping in a bunch of new channels related to the physical channel number when it finds the signal again. For example I have a weak channel virtual 28-1 to 28-4 but often I'll find that I also have channels 27-1 to 27-4 where 27 is the digital channel for analog 28. This has happened on several of my weak channels. The Zenith does not do this. Also the Zenith has the ability to manually scan for channels which the CM does not have.

I find the PQ similar between the two on my old Sony Wega though the CM will sometimes show white dots on the top of letter-boxed SD pictures on HD channels but zooming the picture gets rid of them.

John
Rammitinski's Avatar Rammitinski
12:45 PM Liked: 20
post #3 of 18
09-15-2008 | Posts: 17,437
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I agree - Zenith. If they would appreciate the better guide though, I'd get 'em the CM.

Yeah, my CM also does a similar weak signal thing, where I'll get some channel automatically programmed in occasionally that's over 150 miles away. Then I go crazy trying to figure out what in the heck channel it is, and where it came from. Not a major problem, but strange at times. I have all kinds of those channels in my deleted list. I don't even know where half of them are from.
systems2000's Avatar systems2000
08:07 PM Liked: 10
post #4 of 18
09-15-2008 | Posts: 2,094
Joined: Jun 2008
Have you thought about looking at the APEX DT502? It has the S-Video, a nice guide, more sensitive than the Insignia (I've tried several makes and models of CECB's) at about 76 miles - 2edge, Smart Antenna ready, at least a 24hr Full EPG w/reminder (Full EPG removes the program and allows for multi-channel information), and the remote is very user friendly, except it isn't capable of turning the TV on/off.

It also has dual tuning bars (Strength/Quality), which is the only way to tune (I understand the Zinwell is the only other CECB to have this feature).
wymann's Avatar wymann
08:36 PM Liked: 10
post #5 of 18
09-15-2008 | Posts: 226
Joined: Sep 2003
Sorry to hijack the thread, but I'm also looking at the both Zenith DTT900 and Channel Master CM7000.

Would you recommend getting one of each? Or getting two of the same model (Zenith or CM)?
nwiser's Avatar nwiser
08:42 PM Liked: 10
post #6 of 18
09-15-2008 | Posts: 446
Joined: Jun 2008
I've got both, and the Zenith (Insignia) is likely to be more hassle free than the CM. While it has its flaws, they're insignificant compared to the image issues and droput issues I have with my CM-7000's.
equivocal's Avatar equivocal
12:02 AM Liked: 10
post #7 of 18
09-16-2008 | Posts: 159
Joined: Nov 2006
Or wait to see if anything better comes along. Maybe one of those silicon tuner CECBs will actually make it to market and turn out to be better. Perhaps one of the many obscure brands will put out an overachiever.
Rammitinski's Avatar Rammitinski
12:39 AM Liked: 20
post #8 of 18
09-16-2008 | Posts: 17,437
Joined: Sep 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by wymann View Post

Would you recommend getting one of each?

I would.
electrictroy's Avatar electrictroy
07:06 AM Liked: 10
post #9 of 18
09-16-2008 | Posts: 776
Joined: Jul 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by systems2000 View Post

Have you thought about looking at the APEX DT502? It has the S-Video, a nice guide, more sensitive than the Insignia

Really? I'll have to try it out.

Where's the lowest price dot-com that sells the Apex? I have one coupon left, so maybe I'll give the Apex a try.
systems2000's Avatar systems2000
06:39 PM Liked: 10
post #10 of 18
09-16-2008 | Posts: 2,094
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I got mine at BestBuy and if you don't like it, you can exchange it for an Insignia -APT. Both are the same price of $59.99. The Zenith 901 is $49.99 at K-Mart ($10.00 less than most retailers) and $59.99 at Circuit City.

NOTE: There is a DT502 (newer) and a DT250. They have both stacked together and at the same price. Major differences: DT502 - Better EPG, but requires rescan for antenna change. DT250 - Manual channel add, but anemic EPG. Both seem to acquire stations at the same sensitivity.
wymann's Avatar wymann
04:05 AM Liked: 10
post #11 of 18
09-17-2008 | Posts: 226
Joined: Sep 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

I would.

Thanks, I guess I shouldn't put all my eggs in one basket. I'll have to make a trek to Frys before my coupons expire.
lmemsm's Avatar lmemsm
10:12 AM Liked: 10
post #12 of 18
10-20-2008 | Posts: 16
Joined: Jul 2008
After reading this forum's recommendations, I bought a Zenith DTT901 and Channel Master CM7000. I really like the Zenith better. The Zenith seems easier to use. Remote on Channel Master is hard to manipulate. Need to press hard for it to react to input. Both don't get all the local stations I'd like to get (and could get in analog). I do seem to be able to tune in more with the Zenith than the Channel Master because I can manually add a station on the Zenith and then try to move my antenna to get it in. With the Channel Master, have not seen a way to manually enter stations, so whatever you get after trying to automatically set stations when antenna is in various positions is it. Also noticed the Channel Master seems to run a lot hotter. I've left my Zenith plugged in and connected to my TV. Am afraid to do so with the Channel Master. The only thing I like better about the Channel Master is that the TV Guide shows more than now and next airing on a station. If I buy another converter box, it's definitely going to be the Zenith.
jjeff's Avatar jjeff
12:03 PM Liked: 99
post #13 of 18
10-20-2008 | Posts: 9,933
Joined: Nov 2007
I'd probably have to agree, for most people the Zenith is a better choice. Unless you need the S-video(and have a display capable of displaying it's slightly better PQ) or as you said the better guide. I don't really care for the warmth of the CM but I've left it on for days and it hasn't caused any problems yet. I also like the smaller Zenith remote. I think the CMs remote buttons are a bit spongy.
Either way as far as the CECBs go I think were talking about a Lexus vs an Acura. Either one is better than the majority of the CECBs out their. You probably couldn't go wrong with either.
systems2000's Avatar systems2000
09:15 PM Liked: 10
post #14 of 18
10-21-2008 | Posts: 2,094
Joined: Jun 2008
Try an APEX DT502 or DT502A for your next CECB. It's the one I use over the Insignia -APT (Zenith clone), although the DT502 has the same problem with the station list (waiting to check the DT502A).
jjeff's Avatar jjeff
02:32 PM Liked: 99
post #15 of 18
10-22-2008 | Posts: 9,933
Joined: Nov 2007
I did and didn't care for the Apex 502 at all. I thought the PQ was closer to the Zenith DTT-901 than the CM and I also didn't like the large amount of overscan. Here's my review of the Apex if interested.
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...4#post14572624
systems2000's Avatar systems2000
05:56 PM Liked: 10
post #16 of 18
10-22-2008 | Posts: 2,094
Joined: Jun 2008
Your review says you had the DT250. I also have a DT250, but recommend the DT502 over the DT250. Check this thread http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1055421
leschwartz's Avatar leschwartz
08:54 AM Liked: 10
post #17 of 18
10-23-2008 | Posts: 61
Joined: Feb 2002
troy,

I'll weigh in here: I have compared several CECB's, and currently use a Zenith DTT-901 and Tivax STB-T8's. The Zenith is easier to use -- with an especially nice feature that remembers the zoom you set for each channel. The Tivax seems to have superior reception, running better on rabbit ears / UHF bow tie. In either case, I suspect you'll need to worry the antenna issue some: I'm only ten miles from the towers, and getting the antenna aimed correctly can mean the difference between perfect and unwatchable.

I'm not sure I would worry the channel guide too much, since most older folks I know don't bother to use that feature.

Larry
jjeff's Avatar jjeff
02:57 PM Liked: 99
post #18 of 18
10-23-2008 | Posts: 9,933
Joined: Nov 2007
systems2000, you're correct, I tried the 250, not the 502. My dyslexia must have kicked in
Is the 502 the replacement for the 250 and is that what Best Buy now stocks?

edit:according to your link it looks like it's the replacement. Sounds like it's a better box than the 250 which I tried.
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