Zinwell ZAT-950A - Page 4 - AVS Forum
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post #91 of 220 Old 02-01-2009, 01:05 AM
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Concerning my overly sensitive Zinwell remote buttons: I switched out the batteries that came with the unit (no-name brand!) for a couple of good name brand batteries and, lo and behold, the sensitivity problem is gone! As someone said before, you have to be careful about using those included batteries.

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post #92 of 220 Old 02-01-2009, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by dattier View Post

Do you ever get into the city? The Jewel-Osco at Foster and Pulaski occasionally has ZAT-950A's, but the cost of coming there from Schaumburg if you weren't already going to that area would be worse than paying for shipping.

The other Jewel-Oscos where I've seen Zinwell boxes have had ZAT-970A's (and on one visit to the one on Foster, so did they) or ZAT-857's.

Thanks for the leads. I appreciate the heads-up information. I called, and at this time the Chicago Jewel on Foster by Pulaski has only the 970A's in stock. Amazon has been reporting "not available" for some time. My coupon is good until April and I'll keep looking. I'll also keep watch on this forum to check if anyone has found the 950A for $50. Thanks again.
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post #93 of 220 Old 02-01-2009, 09:37 PM
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Originally Posted by sixrealms View Post

I called, and at this time the Chicago Jewel on Foster by Pulaski has only the 970A's in stock.

Yes, sorry.  I was there today to get the 3-D glasses for the features during the Super Bowl, and all they had were blue-box 970A's.
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post #94 of 220 Old 02-02-2009, 10:29 AM
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With all the talk on this board about how lousy the Zinwell manual is, I expected to see the worst when I examined the contents of my unopened box for the first time.

I was impressed with the efficient packaging of the contents. I expected to see a four page fold out manual, but instead found a rather lengthy and detailed brochure, with pictures of screen menus a user would see when selecting various command options. What also impressed me was the fact that the manual appears to have been written, or at least, edited by a person whose first language is English. I found only one misspelling and the grammar was American-English friendly.

As I explore further and test drive the 950-A, perhaps I will appreciate some of the contents on this thread that denigrate the manual's content. Compared to the Insignia manual (or the manual for a neighbor's new Memorex DVD player), it is, at best, no worse. On first reading, it (the manual) impressed me as being more user friendly than that of the Insignia. Plus ... Zinwell included a "Quick User's Guide." It seems like they have at least made the effort to help users navigate their way through using the box.

The shutoff issue from the timer settings, from what others have said, seems best accomplished by using the sleep timer setting. If a person is away for days though, and has set the timer to go off in the future, this function will not help. I agree, the box should have been programmed to shut off at a selected time. If the box runs cool, then keeping it on should not be a problem.

As compared with the remote for the Insignia CECB, the Zinwell remote's length is a little bit shorter, buttons a little bit smaller, and is lighter in weight.

I was pleasantly surprised to read in the manual that the user can actually "name" selected stations - through an on-screen display keyboard! Also, the user can select the order in which stations get displayed. With these and other options this set offers, I am surprised that it qualifies as a CECB. As long as its ability to pick up stations relatively well, it offers more features than some other sets (except for the fuller EPG that some other sets offer).

One matter concerns me - unlike the Insignia and some other brands, there is no direct signal strength button on the remote, and by reading the manual, I don't see how a person could coordinate the repositioning of an antenna manually with the signal strength indicator when simply tuned to one station. It appears to me that the signal strength indicator is displayed only through the auto/manual tuning process of stations. I don't know why Zinwell couldn't have included this feature, given the other features this box offers.
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post #95 of 220 Old 02-02-2009, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by systems2000 View Post

Has anyone who has a ZAT-950A opened the unit to see if it has a Microtune MT2131 tuner, as been claimed by http://www.SolidSignal.com/ ?


Part is labled MT2131F.
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post #96 of 220 Old 02-03-2009, 09:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

With all the talk on this board about how lousy the Zinwell manual is, I expected to see the worst when I examined the contents of my unopened box for the first time.

I was impressed with the efficient packaging of the contents. I expected to see a four page fold out manual, but instead found a rather lengthy and detailed brochure, with pictures of screen menus a user would see when selecting various command options. What also impressed me was the fact that the manual appears to have been written, or at least, edited by a person whose first language is English. I found only one misspelling and the grammar was American-English friendly.

As I explore further and test drive the 950-A, perhaps I will appreciate some of the contents on this thread that denigrate the manual's content. Compared to the Insignia manual (or the manual for a neighbor's new Memorex DVD player), it is, at best, no worse. On first reading, it (the manual) impressed me as being more user friendly than that of the Insignia. Plus ... Zinwell included a "Quick User's Guide." It seems like they have at least made the effort to help users navigate their way through using the box.

Point taken. I guess some of us were a bit hard on the manual. I do appreciate the fact that it comes with something more than just a quick start guide which has become somewhat commonplace these days. After looking over the manual again, it is better than I had remembered.

My main complaints regarding the manual have to do with readability and user friendliness. After all, many people who will be purchasing and using these boxes know little or nothing about DTV, and a large percentage of those users may be elderly, so better readability i.e. larger fonts and more whitespace would be beneficial. The manual also seems to be written from more of a technical perspective rather than an ease of use perspective which can be a bit confusing for some people.

By comparison, Dish Network supplied a much more satisfying manual with their DTVPal. For one thing, the DTVPal manual is 37 pages versus 15 pages for the Zinwell. Unfortunately, the function of the DTVPal itself is less satisfying than the manual.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

The shutoff issue from the timer settings, from what others have said, seems best accomplished by using the sleep timer setting. If a person is away for days though, and has set the timer to go off in the future, this function will not help.

Not sure what you mean by this. Why wouldn't this work for future timers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

One matter concerns me - unlike the Insignia and some other brands, there is no direct signal strength button on the remote, and by reading the manual, I don't see how a person could coordinate the repositioning of an antenna manually with the signal strength indicator when simply tuned to one station. It appears to me that the signal strength indicator is displayed only through the auto/manual tuning process of stations. I don't know why Zinwell couldn't have included this feature, given the other features this box offers.

I don't see it shown in the manual, but I'm sure you've found out when you connected the unit that it does display signal strength whenever you change channels or press the Display button. Some people have complained that this doesn't display long enough. The Manual Scan screen comes in handy if you need to display signal strength for a longer period of time.
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post #97 of 220 Old 02-03-2009, 07:52 PM
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ok I am getting VERY confused with all these postings
I am in the schaumburg ill area and when I emailed dtv info , they said that the zinwell was better then the dtv pal, but said nothing of the 950 when I asked where I could buy it and they said albertsons or osco
The osco stores around me have thezinwell 970 with 904 in the upc code , whatever that means from the posings
NOW they also said that the insiignia is more user friendly, but nothing about it working with a vcr as an event timer
SOO can anyone SIMPLY explain which one is best and if not available are all these ACCEPTABLE,
as a note, I believe Best buy was the only one with the insignia and the are ALL out of stock and do not know if they are getting more
My coupon expires mar 2

thank you for condensing all this info saving me from trying to decifer all these posts
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post #98 of 220 Old 02-03-2009, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by winniepoah View Post

ok I am getting VERY confused with all these postings
I am in the schaumburg ill area and when I emailed dtv info , they said that the zinwell was better then the dtv pal, but said nothing of the 950 when I asked where I could buy it and they said albertsons or osco
The osco stores around me have thezinwell 970 with 904 in the upc code , whatever that means from the posings
NOW they also said that the insiignia is more user friendly, but nothing about it working with a vcr as an event timer
SOO can anyone SIMPLY explain which one is best and if not available are all these ACCEPTABLE,
as a note, I believe Best buy was the only one with the insignia and the are ALL out of stock and do not know if they are getting more
My coupon expires mar 2

thank you for condensing all this info saving me from trying to decifer all these posts

Insignia=ZenithDTT901 - same internals, different labels, Insignia only at BestBuy, Zenith at CircuitCity, RadioShack, KMart

If you need Timers to work with a VCR you need to look at either Dish DTVPAL/TR40/DTVPALPLUS or Zinwell 970A/950A Both also have analog passthru.

The 970 is being replaced with the 950. I've seen them at JewelOsco and Meijer

DTVPAL sold at Sears and KMart. Supposedly at a few RadioShacks and Dish Retailers. Plus and TR40 only sold online. DTVPAL=TR40 just different label.
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post #99 of 220 Old 02-03-2009, 10:12 PM
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winniepoah - check Circuit City, if there is a store in your area - and if they are still open - they are having a liquidation sale, and are selling the Zenith CECB - it is the same as the Insignia.

Just installed the Zinwell last night and will give my review after my recommendation to you ... if you want a simpler, more user friendly CECB, between the two, I would definitely recommend the Insignia. If you need a CECB that functions as an event timer, you will not be disappointed with the Zinwell, assuming you don't mind having to navigate through a few extra menu screens to perform various basic commands. Once you have the Zinwell set up, and all you need to do is change stations, it is easy to use.

rick313 - in your last post, were you referring to the Dish Pal or the Pal Plus that had some problems? I sacrificed the EPG on the Pal Plus to take my chance on the Zinwell. I agree with your point about the manual. I had to take out a magnifying glass to read it! While it explains most commands, it leaves out a few items, which the user has to figure out on his own, or by asking others on forums such as this one.

I'd like to get my most pressing questions out of the way first before I give my review on this box.

1. Is it normal for the audio volume and treble to be reduced when using the A/V connection (Ch 4)? When I switched to the "line" audio mode (RF) the audio and treble were "normal" (very similar to the original sound coming out of my stereo capable tv. Was the reduced volume and treble through the A/V due to the "dolby" audio output? My tv's audio output is only mono and stereo, no dolby. When I connect through the RF connection and select the audio output to "line," is the audio output still in stereo? The "Audio Mode" section of the manual on page 11 refers to selecting a "line out." I was unable to find any such option/choice identified in this way.

2. When selecting favorite channels, a password prompt is displayed. Is there a way to disable this prompt? I saw no way of turning off the "parental control" feature. When I entered the "parental control" menu, I did not see any option referring to turning it on or off. When I select new favorites, I would prefer to not be asked each time to enter a password.

3. You may have answered my question regarding extending the time display for the signal strength indicator bars. I had looked for an option of keeping the display appearing on the screen versus disappearing after 5 or 6 seconds.
Seems like the manual scan may be the answer.

4. When I first set up the list of favorite channels, I proceeded to press the channel up and down button on the remote and what I got was only a list of the channels I had selected into the favorites group - not all the originally scanned stations. (I had exited out of the favorites on screen menu display.) I had thought, that like the Insignia, that the move to favorite channels would occur only by pressing the favorites button on the remote. Somehow, I was able to navigate to an OSD menu that listed all the channels the 950 had originally scanned and was able to move through every channel. What is the easiest way to simply move through one's favorites, and also to move through non-favorite channels?
And if one has more favorites group, how does the 950 know which group is referred to simply by pressing the favorites button on the remote? (With the Insignia, it is much simpler!!)

(to rick313 - my reference in my post to the sleep timer not working at a future time referred to this scenario ... say today is Tuesday and you are going away for one week ... you want to record a program on Wednesday and another on Saturday ... the sleep timer extends only to 8 hours. I read in some post that the Zinwell doesn't turn off on its own, but in readinfg the manual, it says that it DOES turn itself off after 4 hours of inactivity, so if after the first recording is done, would it shut itself off four hours after the first "wakeup" setting, then turn itself on again for the Saturday "wakeup" setting?

Now my review - my first reaction on taking out the box was that this thing was very light, cheaply made, and accompanied with a thin gage cheap;y made RF cable. But when I turned on the box, my concerns of cheap quality disappeared.

The initial setting prompts is graphics driven versus text driven, making it easy to get through the "Easy Install" section. The channel scanning took, what seemed like twice as long as that of the Insignia, but that is just my subjective reflection. Seems like the scanning took two to four minutes. What got me gleeful is that the box picked up every station in my area that was broadcasting in digital. And even better, the signal strength of most stations was strong enough that I didn't have to reorient my small UHF antenna being used for tv reception.

I discovered that most comands are accessed through the menu choice on the remote. What blew me away was that when the listing of channels was accessed, as I navigated through each, a small picture was displayed on the right side of the screen displaying the real time broadcast along with the signal strength, functioning like a "preview" box. (Come to think of it, this might be another way to keep the signal strength bar on screen for a longer time if antenna direction reorientation is needed.) This display is much more helpful to the user in navigating through stations than simply changing from one station to another with a full picture display, and then having to go back to a list of all the stations.

I was also very impressed with the display of signal strength BARS. Yes - two of them. One for signal strength, the other for quality. The display is both in graphical and numerical representation.

I have mixed feelings about a full content information display occurring whenever a new station is selected for viewing. Sometimes, a user might just want to view the station, not to know what station they have turned to, the program name, the time of day, signsal strength, etc. I was unable to find any way of turning off the display. The opacity feature which controls the light intensity of the OSD is useful, but only allows for 50% opacity, not 100% (which would essentially turn off the display from being viewable). At worst, seeing this information is a nuisance for 5 to 6 seconds, at best, the display minimizes user intervention for being informed of the current status after chsnging stations - it's done automatically.

I was impressed with the speed with which viewable content was displayed when changing from one station to another (about a 1 to 2 second delay).

Because the box itself is so light, pressing the control buttons on the box requires that the box be held stationary, otherwise it moves!! Jacks in the back are sized perfectly to "grab" onto the attachments securely.

Maybe because the included batteries are so cheap that I found myself having to positon the remote directly in front of the sensor on the box. The Insignia remote is so powerful (even with the included batteries) that it can be directed 30 degrees away from the box and its signal still be received.

I did not experience the "over sensitivity" on the remote that another posted referred to.

The caption function seems adequate - font and text are readable. I have been able to only use the first setting so far (C1?).

I was disappointed in the program description displayed. The only information displayed is that odf the program name, not a brief description as provided by the Insignia.

I have yet to test the program timer function or the sleep function.

It seems odd to me that the cover box for this unit mentions nothing about the event timer capability. If I had not read about this unit and formed an opinion about this unit from the box cover, I would have passed, not knowing what I was passing on.

My guess is that the command format of this box is geared more to folks who are more comfortable with menu driven screens and performing tasks through computer software programs, than those seeking a simpler plug-in turn on box.

Besides the more extensive program description by the Pal Plus (7 days per channel, program description or name only?), is the Pal Plus still better than the Zinwell? Hard to believe that these are the only two CECB that can be programmed for event switching. Many people are not even aware of these sets.
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post #100 of 220 Old 02-04-2009, 05:32 AM
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Line out is a direct feed of the signal that doesn't go through a tuner.
On cecbs, that is the rca jacks and S-video.
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post #101 of 220 Old 02-04-2009, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THX-1138 View Post

Line out is a direct feed of the signal that doesn't go through a tuner.
On cecbs, that is the rca jacks and S-video.

So, when I have the Zinwell configured to Ch 4 with an RF mode of "Line", it is using the connection from the A/V RCA jacks? When the audio mode is set to "RF mode" it is feeding through the tuner itself? One of these settings resulted in volume and treble output that was reduced.

I forgot to mention that one of the really neat features of this model is the capability of favorites to be organized by "groups." I think this setting would be helpful for those stations that a user might want to watch, but less frequently than the "first tier" stations.

Some of the sub-channels are not desirable at all to me, but others I'd like to tune into now and then, but not be part of the main channel surfing viewing option. In this regard, grouping those channels into another "group" category of favorites would be a useful tool. I think only a more geeky designer would have come up with this option. I'm surprised it, and the even timer option, passed the CECB criteria. I don't know why other manufacturers other than Dish/Echostar would not have included the event timer option.
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post #102 of 220 Old 02-04-2009, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

rick313 - in your last post, were you referring to the Dish Pal or the Pal Plus that had some problems?

My experience has been with the original DTVPal not the TR-40 or the DTVPal Plus. However, they are all basically the same unit software wise.

One of the most basic problems with the DTVPal, in my opinion, is the poor picture quality compared to most other CECBs. It's ironic that the CECB with what many consider to be the best program guide also has some of the worst picture quality. It actually hurts my eyes to watch it for very long because it is fuzzy compared to the Zinwell and most other CECBs.

There have also been many problems with the timers: getting deleted, not firing, being changed. Over the past 6 months, Dish has fixed most of the timer problems, but a few still persist, and it has been a nightmare for people trying to exchange their defective units.

Finally, unlike the Zinwell units, the DTVPal does not provide any means to manually set the current date and time. Consequently, you are at the mercy of your local stations to provide an accurate date and time. In my area, I have sometimes seen stations whose time is off by 6-12 hours which causes havoc when you're trying to record using timers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

Is it normal for the audio volume and treble to be reduced when using the A/V connection (Ch 4)? When I switched to the "line" audio mode (RF) the audio and treble were "normal" (very similar to the original sound coming out of my stereo capable tv. Was the reduced volume and treble through the A/V due to the "dolby" audio output? My tv's audio output is only mono and stereo, no dolby. When I connect through the RF connection and select the audio output to "line," is the audio output still in stereo?

I have indeed noticed that the line audio volume is lower. Not sure why, but as far as I know, none of the CECBs output true stereo via RF. Have you adjusted the volume all the way up on your Zinwell remote? I find that's what works best for me because I can then fine tune the volume with the TV remote.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

my reference in my post to the sleep timer not working at a future time referred to this scenario ... say today is Tuesday and you are going away for one week ... you want to record a program on Wednesday and another on Saturday ... the sleep timer extends only to 8 hours. I read in some post that the Zinwell doesn't turn off on its own, but in readinfg the manual, it says that it DOES turn itself off after 4 hours of inactivity, so if after the first recording is done, would it shut itself off four hours after the first "wakeup" setting, then turn itself on again for the Saturday "wakeup" setting?

Yes, you've got it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

Besides the more extensive program description by the Pal Plus (7 days per channel, program description or name only?), is the Pal Plus still better than the Zinwell?

It depends upon whom you ask. I'm certainly happier with the Zinwell than the original DTVPal. I haven't tried the DTVPal Plus, but as I understand it, the only difference between it and the original DTVPal is that the Plus costs more and is supposed to have a more sensitive tuner than the original. Big deal! The Zinwell tuner also seems to be more sensitive than the original DTVPal.

I'm not saying that the Zinwell is not without its faults too. It could definitely use some tweaking, but in my opinion, its less expensive, produces a better picture, supports more program timer events (8 vs 5), provides manual date/time setting, and provides program timers that work. I really love the signal strength/signal quality meters too. They really come in handy for antenna positioning.
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post #103 of 220 Old 02-04-2009, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

...2. When selecting favorite channels, a password prompt is displayed. Is there a way to disable this prompt? I saw no way of turning off the "parental control" feature. When I entered the "parental control" menu, I did not see any option referring to turning it on or off. When I select new favorites, I would prefer to not be asked each time to enter a password.

I have the 970A and don't think there is a way to avoid that but you can change your password to "1111" so that you can quickly get that over and done with. Try it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

4. ... What is the easiest way to simply move through one's favorites, and also to move through non-favorite channels?

I press ENTER to get to the preview screen. From there I can press the Back Arrow or the Forward Arrow to cycle thru the groups. You can cycle thru the channels in a group by pressing the Up and Down Arrows. After I've found my desired channel I press ENTER to see the full screen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

"I discovered that most comands are accessed through the menu choice on the remote. What blew me away was that when the listing of channels was accessed, as I navigated through each, a small picture was displayed on the right side of the screen displaying the real time broadcast along with the signal strength, functioning like a "preview" box...."

Your 950A displays the signal strength on the preview box ? That's one thing my 970A doesn't do. Is it a graphical or numerical display ?
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post #104 of 220 Old 02-04-2009, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeM View Post

I have the 970A and don't think there is a way to avoid that but you can change your password to "1111" so that you can quickly get that over and done with. Try it.

My 970A (an 0830 model) came with the password preset to 0000, so there was no reason to change it.  The 950A's manual says that 0217 is an override password that will always work in case you forget the password, and both 0000 and 0217 work on my 970A.
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post #105 of 220 Old 02-04-2009, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by dattier View Post

My 970A (an 0830 model) came with the password preset to 0000, so there was no reason to change it.* The 950A's manual says that 0217 is an override password that will always work in case you forget the password, and both 0000 and 0217 work on my 970A.

I have the 970A and don't think there is a way to avoid that (the prompt for a password) but you can change your password to "1111". This way your finger is already on the "1", you don't have to reach down to press the "0"s or worse yet, the digits "0217". It's quicker.

P.S. This assumes of course that the "1" button is used to bring up the edit screen (as on the 970A).
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post #106 of 220 Old 02-04-2009, 03:35 PM
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thanks!
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post #107 of 220 Old 02-04-2009, 03:36 PM
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thanks!
circut city was wiped out a month ago , most around here closed during the first wave of closings
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post #108 of 220 Old 02-04-2009, 04:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

So, when I have the Zinwell configured to Ch 4 with an RF mode of "Line", it is using the connection from the A/V RCA jacks? When the audio mode is set to "RF mode" it is feeding through the tuner itself? One of these settings resulted in volume and treble output that was reduced.

Is there a selection of line on the Zinwell?
Normally both are active, but I think I have heard of boxes having a switching option.
Quite often you need both.
I normally run rf to the tv and line audio to the stereo equipment.
In this case, I can use the vcr as the output and I have many jacks on them.

Inputs normally have to be selected.

Selecting channel 3 or 4 only affects the RF signal, not the line output.
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post #109 of 220 Old 02-04-2009, 04:46 PM
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CECB's, with Analog Pass-Through (APT), don't work that way. APT only works through the RF output. RCA jacks only work when the CECB is "ON."
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post #110 of 220 Old 02-05-2009, 08:54 PM
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I was at a seminar yesterday and they said that you CANNOT record digital programs to a vhs tape, If this is true then what is the point of having the zinwell to use with a vcr?
Then another person said to set the vcr on channel 3 and the box on what ever HD not digital station Ie pick either 7.1,7.2 etc that is not digital Or get a dvd recorder. but then if I do , can you retape over dvd;s like a vcr, It seems a waste to tape, watch and then throw out the dvd
I am confused again
chicago area
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post #111 of 220 Old 02-05-2009, 09:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winniepoah View Post

I was at a seminar yesterday and they said that you CANNOT record digital programs to a vhs tape, If this is true then what is the point of having the zinwell to use with a vcr?
Then another person said to set the vcr on channel 3 and the box on what ever HD not digital station Ie pick either 7.1,7.2 etc that is not digital Or get a dvd recorder. but then if I do , can you retape over dvd;s like a vcr, It seems a waste to tape, watch and then throw out the dvd
I am confused again
chicago area

You can record programs converted from digital to analogue (this is exactly what the CECB does)on a vcr tape.

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post #112 of 220 Old 02-05-2009, 10:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winniepoah View Post

I was at a seminar yesterday and they said that you CANNOT record digital programs to a vhs tape, If this is true then what is the point of having the zinwell to use with a vcr?

I'm sure that person was referring to the fact that your VCR does not have a digital tuner. Thus, it cannot tune digital stations on its own. However, with the addition of a digital converter like the Zinwell, you can indeed record using your VCR. I do it every day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by winniepoah View Post

Then another person said to set the vcr on channel 3 and the box on what ever HD not digital station Ie pick either 7.1,7.2 etc that is not digital

There is some confusion here. HDTV (High Definition Television) is a subset of DTV (Digital Television), so there is no such thing as "HD not digital" since HD is by definition digital.

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Originally Posted by winniepoah View Post

can you retape over dvd;s like a vcr

Yes, you can reuse DVDs if you buy DVD+RW or DVD-RW discs. However, there is no need to purchase a DVD recorder if you are satisfied with your VCR. All you need to do is add a converter like the Zinwell to your setup, and all will be well.
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post #113 of 220 Old 02-05-2009, 10:10 PM
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Yes, that is the way to navigate through the favorites on the Zinwell 950-A.

I had made the mistake of trying to use it in the way the Insignia works - with the Insignia, the favorites are accessed by simply pressing the favorite button, and then repeatedly pressing it to move through the favorite channels.

If you press the channel up/down buttons on the Insignia after pressing the Favorite button, you move through all the loaded stations, not the favorites.

In this regard, the Zinwell is better designed, albeit involving more steps to navigate through the channels. With the Zinwell, once you select a "group" in which your favorites is organized, you stay within that station grouping. To return to all the loaded stations, you must return to "all channels." I didn't realize you do that by pressing the right or left arrow. I had been pressing the up and down buttons in the favorites/channel listing and couldn't get the "all channels" field highlighted. I now have two favorite groups, and find the Zinwell format for navigating through this list much more useful than that of the Insignia, particularly in light of having multiple favorite groups to choose from.

I don't think the manual explains how to navigate through the favorites listing to return to the "all channels" field via the right/left arrow buttons.

I tested the timer setting (event programming) and was relieved to get satisfactory results. Stations changed on time and without any switching delay on the visuals. As mentioned before, when the new station appears, the "information display" appears on the screen for 5 to 6 seconds. Sort of like a "time stamp." Could be useful in knowing the time the switch was made and to which station, as well as the signal strength. I will program the switch at least one minute before recording time on my vcr in cases where I don't want to see this information on a recording.

I tried to navigate through the timer setting option screen on my own, but found the manual useful in explaining that channel selection can be made by pressing "enter" at the channel option, vs. simply using the right/left arrow button to navigate through the available stations - they are listed by the station call letters, not by numbers. In my area, there is at least one station that is identified by the same call letters even though one is a subchannel. Using the "enter" button is preferable to avoid confusion.

Regarding my audio output ... When I had the Audio mode set to "RF mode," I was able to get the same audio output whether I viewed programming from my VCR via its (that of the VCR) channel 4 setting or switching to "L1" (which is normally connected with cables connected into the RCA A/V jacks.)

When I change the audio mode to "Line," I get the reduction in sound and treble. Yes, I do have the Zinwell's audio volume set to 100%. I would think that if the VCR is allowing me to view and hear output via the ch 4 or L1 setting on my VCR, that it is sending the signal from both the RF and A/V jacks.

I thought in the past that when I viewed the preview channel listing, I was getting a signal strength indicator. Last night, I didn't see that - just the "preview box" of the program being aired.

I forgot to mention that even though the Insignia gives a more detailed program description, pressing the "guide" button (allowing you to scroll horizontally through station listings for program descriptions) so far normally just lists the name of the program only, and in most cases just refers to "select station for program information." So, you have to actually change the station to get a program description for that station.

Last night I tried to manually select a station number that is not transmitting at a digitally readable number as of yet ( it will in the near future ). The Zinwell attempted to get a signal, which it couldn't obviously, but wouldn't accept the number as a valid number to store among the channel listings. I thought I was doing the procedure right, but my results failed. When the station boosts its digital signal, expected to occur on Feb. 17 (yes, I know about the delay announcement), the Zinwell will pick up the signal and no doubt add it to the listing of other stations.

I noticed an odd thing last night when I was seraching through thre preview screens. I can't specify the sequence of events here, but sometimes the Zinwell would say "no signal" for a station and then about five seconds later, would get a clear picture - it seemed like it needed to reorient its settings to broadcast the signal. The stations had a less than strong signal, so it didn't concern me that much, but it did seem odd that in another sequence of viewing, the stations' signal were received without delay.

I wonder if other Pal Plus users concur with the comment concerning its picture quality, timing issues, and other matters.

So far, I am relatively happy with the Zinwell. It seems to be working as expected. Wish the remote, manual, and program descriptions were larger, but I can live with it. This set has advantages over the Insignia - for me they consist of the options given to a user for selecting favorite channels into separate multiple groupings easily accessed, and the event timing capability.
My first impressions with the tuner of this unit is that it is at least as powerful as that of the Insignia, if not stronger. You'd never know it by looking at the box!! (The Insignia box is stylish.)

I don't know if other manufacturers have a tech support line, but from what I have experienced, the best tech support for this unit is a forum like this, not by calling the company.
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post #114 of 220 Old 02-05-2009, 10:28 PM
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Most CECB's have a delay or "No Signal," when you tune to a channel that is weak. The CECB needs time to acquire enough signal/data before producing a program.
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post #115 of 220 Old 02-06-2009, 12:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winniepoah View Post

I was at a seminar yesterday and they said that you CANNOT record digital programs to a vhs tape, If this is true then what is the point of having the zinwell to use with a vcr? ...

I am confused again
chicago area

Either whoever said that was wrong, or you misunderstood him/her.  I've recorded digital broadcasts to VHS through a Zinwell ZAT-970A and through a Magnavox TB100MG9, and I've done it in Chicago.
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post #116 of 220 Old 02-06-2009, 06:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dattier View Post

Either whoever said that was wrong, or you misunderstood him/her.* I've recorded digital broadcasts to VHS through a Zinwell ZAT-970A and through a Magnavox TB100MG9, and I've done it in Chicago.

well maybe they meant you can't record digital quality broadcasts to VHS which is true...that's why you have the zinwell to convert it to analog and then you can record it.

or the seminar people were wrong.
on a side note, I've heard misinforming stuff on the media such as "throw away those rabbit ear antennas after february" So i think now people think you don't need an antenna for tv?!
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post #117 of 220 Old 02-06-2009, 06:19 PM
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Correction on a stement I made in a previous post about navigating through favorites using the Insignia vs. the Zinwell ...

I still stand by my statement that the Zinwell is setup to make that navigation easier for the user ONCE THE USER IS IN A FAVORITE GROUP. (Once you are in that group, your channel selection changes are limited to the group you are currently in.)
The Insignia also allows the user to easily navigate through selected favorite channels by using the up/down buttons, BUT ... YOU CAN DO SO ONLY WHEN THE FAVORITE LISTING IS DISPLAYED ON THE SCREEN. Once that display disappears (after 5 to 10 seconds), pressing the up/down arrows does nothing. Pressing the channel up/down buttons accesses all selected stations.

Discovering this explained to me why when I pressed the favorite button on the Insignia remote and then pressing the channel up/down buttons I was returned to a choice of all stations, taking me out of my desired favorite listings. For quick access to all stations, this process serves a purpose.

I took this understanding with me when I attempted to use the favorite option on the Zinwell and had difficulty, but after learning of the way in which Zinwell handles this choice, discovered that its approach offered advantages for channel selection.

I know of people who have never figured out how to program their VCR's, even with onscreen directions. I believe they would have trouble using the Zinwell and never figure out how to use the timing feature or use navigate through the "favorites" grouping choices.

The manual explains these tasks, but leaves out a few small explanations that might trip up less tech savvy users. Sometimes a user can figure things out intuitively and through trial and error. Other users cannot.
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post #118 of 220 Old 02-06-2009, 08:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

...
Last night I tried to manually select a station number that is not transmitting at a digitally readable number as of yet ( it will in the near future ). The Zinwell attempted to get a signal, which it couldn't obviously, but wouldn't accept the number as a valid number to store among the channel listings. I thought I was doing the procedure right...

I assume you were trying (or should have tried) Manual Scan under the "Installation" menu. To do this you MUST use the true RF channel (not the virtual) number of your desired station. Try Wikipedia for that. Then in the Manual Scan screen, change Scan Mode to "By Channel". Move the highlight to the "Channel Number" line and find the desired RF channel number (or an already aquired channel) using the left and right arrows. Almost immediately you'll see the signal level bars (unless there's no signal or it's very weak). Now you can adjust your antenna for as long as you want. I think the minimum strength for stability is 20%. To have the channel added to the All Channel List, move highlight to "Search" and press Enter.

P.S. Again, this is for the model 970A.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

I know of people who have never figured out how to program their VCR's, even with onscreen directions. I believe they would have trouble using the Zinwell and never figure out how to use the timing feature or use navigate through the "favorites" grouping choices.

Yes, I've talked to people who never use their VCR to record anything. They just use it to watch pre-recorded material. I'm a TV addict who records stuff daily, so it's hard for me to imagine that people like that exist, but they do.

I doubt that I would ever recommend a Zinwell converter to someone who didn't plan on using the program timers. There are better converters on the market for someone who only wants to view programs on their TV.
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post #120 of 220 Old 02-06-2009, 10:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeM View Post

I assume you were trying (or should have tried) Manual Scan under the "Installation" menu. To do this you MUST use the true RF channel (not the virtual) number of your desired station. Try Wikipedia for that. Then in the Manual Scan screen, change Scan Mode to "By Channel". Move the highlight to the "Channel Number" line and find the desired RF channel number (or an already aquired channel) using the left and right arrows. Almost immediately you'll see the signal level bars (unless there's no signal or it's very weak). Now you can adjust your antenna for as long as you want. I think the minimum strength for stability is 20%. To have the channel added to the All Channel List, move highlight to "Search" and press Enter.

P.S. Again, this is for the model 970A.

The signal strength of the station I attempted to program in was listed at about 5%. When I "entered" "search", the channel number reverted back to the original number that was listed in the channel field, as though it ignored my attempt to enter the number. I did not use the VHF number; I used the RF number, such as 50. On the Insignia, even though the station is not broadcasting a strong digital signal to be picked up in my area yet, the Insignia allowed for the station to be added.

By doing additional investigation with the Zinwell "Channel" option, I see that I can display a vertical listing of stations by category (all, favorite groups) by selecting the right/left arrow buttons on the remote, and then by scrolling down the list, get that "previewing" box on the right side. I had thought I could only access this list by hitting the favorite button on the remote.

As I get more familiar with this, I'm sure I will be able to move from one menu screen to another faster. There are more screens to exit/back out of, like a pathway logically constructed.

Once a person understands how to program a VCR, and now an event timer on a CECB such as the Zinwell, the task takes less than 30 seconds.

Mitsubishi VCRs I have had have been the most user friendly for onscreen prompts, in terms of simplicity and logical paths. Sony once made a VCR with programming controls on the unit itself that one could figure out with barely a thought!! The Sylvannia VCR/DVD player/recorder/player I also use sometimes is unbelievably nonuser friendly, with remote commands nonintuitive and with programming commands needlessly overly manually intensive. I sometimes think that the Mitsubishi engineers were told to design a machine that required the least manual intervention for programming and doing tasks whereas the Sylvannia engineers were told to make tasks as nonintuitive and as labor intensive as possible.

Fortunately, the Zenith/Insignia and Zinwell folks have not made it too hard on users. (As I have said before, what were the Dish people thinking to not put at least a power on/off button on the Pal and Pal Plus boxes?)
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