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.