6 CECB Showdown - Apex/ChannelMaster/Tivax/DTVPal/Zenith/Digital Stream - Page 4 - AVS Forum
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post #91 of 111 Old 06-01-2009, 04:40 PM
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Well, since the price of a CM 7000 has gotten so low and since I had coupons still, I went ahead and ordered one. It arrived with the expected pros and cons: like great reception (pro) and ridiculously unreadably small on-screen-text (con).

The reason I'm here is because Delphin had written about the difference in composite output from these boxes. With previous CECBs, I had gone to different televisions around the house, and flipped back and forth between RF (channel 3/4) and RCA jack (composite) signals. Frankly, the RF inputs were almost indistinguishable from the composite. I really had to spend time studying the screen to spot the difference.

The CM 7000 is unlike any other CECB I've used. The RF input is horrible. The screen shows a lot of interference. (Like setting your DVD player to output on channel 3, even though there is a channel 3 in the area.) On the chance CM sent me a bum cable, I tried the cables from the other CECBs. No improvement.

This matters to me because so far I'd been hooking up the CECBs through the RF, and the DVD/VCRs through the composite. It's an easier set up for me, both in use and when changing out equipment. That set up will not be possible with this CM 7000. The RF picture is really unusable.

So I'm asking, has anyone else compared RF/coax and composite picture quality? Did I get a bum box, or this (another) limitation in the CM 7000?

Thanks for any info.
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post #92 of 111 Old 06-01-2009, 05:34 PM
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On my 27inch CRT TV the composite is ever-so-slightly crisper and better color as compared to RF...but I played with it for 10 minutes and a tried a bunch of channels before reaching that conclusion. Initial impression was they are indistinguishable. No way would I call the RF unusable; been using it for over a month and perfectly happy with it; never even tried the composite before now.
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post #93 of 111 Old 06-02-2009, 06:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JNinCA View Post

....
The CM 7000 is unlike any other CECB I've used. The RF input is horrible. The screen shows a lot of interference. (Like setting your DVD player to output on channel 3, even though there is a channel 3 in the area.) On the chance CM sent me a bum cable, I tried the cables from the other CECBs. No improvement.
...
So I'm asking, has anyone else compared RF/coax and composite picture quality? Did I get a bum box, or this (another) limitation in the CM 7000?

Have you tried inserting some attenuation in the line? It sounds like the CM-7000 is overloading your TVs tuner.
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post #94 of 111 Old 06-02-2009, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wws View Post

Have you tried inserting some attenuation in the line? It sounds like the CM-7000 is overloading your TVs tuner.

Hmmm... that is an interesting idea, but like I said, I already tried different coax cables. How else, besides a longer, smaller cable, would you put attenuation between the CECB and the TV?

Ninja1 said he hooked up the CECB and really had to look for it to spot the difference between RF and composite. That has been my experience with CECBs until the Channel Master.

{Also, I failed to mention that when I unboxed the CM, the channel 3/4 switch was pushed into the box. I had to pick it out to use it. I didn't think that would affect the RF signal, but I guess I was wrong.}

In Zath's original comparison at the start of this thread, he didn't mention the CM 7000 has inferior RF output. Unless someone knows RF output is worse on the CM 7000 than the other boxes, IMHO, I got a banged up box.
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post #95 of 111 Old 06-02-2009, 11:14 AM - Thread Starter
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I have not tested the RF output - I'm on svideo and rca audio cables. I might have some time in a week to give it a try if you'd like.
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post #96 of 111 Old 06-02-2009, 12:47 PM
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I've only used s-video on a 32" TV, and RF on a 13" (that's where it's at now). The RF on the 13", does, I agree, look pretty bad. But then, it's kinda hard to really scrutinize the PQ on a 13" TV. But as I see it right now as it is, it doesn't look very good at all.

I haven't tried any other box on the 13" though, so I can't say if it's the TV to any extent or not (and I tried re-calibrating it the best I could to that source. Didn't help all that much, though).
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post #97 of 111 Old 06-02-2009, 02:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JNinCA View Post

Hmmm... that is an interesting idea, but like I said, I already tried different coax cables. How else, besides a longer, smaller cable, would you put attenuation between the CECB and the TV?

It is a little box with a couple of F-connectors on it. You should be able to buy them from a place like Radio Shack for a couple of bucks. Or flag down a cable TV guy. He has loads of them in the back of his truck, and might give you a couple. They usually come in fixed loss steps, like -6 db or -10 db. For example:

http://www.hometech.com/hts/products....html#GC-ATTEN

I have an old Radio Shack Archer "TV-VCR SIGNAL OVERLOAD ATTENUATOR". It is variable from pass-through to almost no signal at all. No idea if they still sell something like it in the stores. I bought mine about 15 years ago. It was quite handy for a previous setup, where I had a preamp up on the antenna mast that was a bit too "hot" for my needs. Here is one that looks identical to my Archer unit:

http://www.antennasdirect.com/attenuator.html

Quote:


In Zath's original comparison at the start of this thread, he didn't mention the CM 7000 has inferior RF output. Unless someone knows RF output is worse on the CM 7000 than the other boxes, IMHO, I got a banged up box.

I wouldn't say "banged up". Maybe your TV overloads too easily? Either way, it wouldn't hurt to try a bit of attenuation.
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post #98 of 111 Old 06-03-2009, 11:35 AM
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wws,
Could a splitter be used as a quick-and-dirty attenuator (in case JNinCA happens to already have splitter(s) laying around) ?
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post #99 of 111 Old 06-03-2009, 07:34 PM
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Splitters can be used to attenuate. Make sure you terminate all outputs.

I use In-Line attenuators, since I have them in 3, 6, 9, 10, & 12dB increments.
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post #100 of 111 Old 06-03-2009, 10:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ninja1 View Post

Could a splitter be used as a quick-and-dirty attenuator (in case JNinCA happens to already have splitter(s) laying around) ?

As system2000 says, sure! The same page I linked to above has terminators on it:

http://www.hometech.com/hts/products....html#GC-C110T

Any tuner front end is designed for a certain range of input levels (dynamic range.) It is a tradeoff between weak signal detection and overloading from strong signals. Better equipment generally handles a wider dynamic range than cheaper equipment.

It would be interesting to know what kind of dynamic range these CECB boxes have. For example, the CM-7000 has been reported to have good sensitivity to weak signals (and my experience is that it does.) Yet there have been a few reports of the CM-7000 messing up on *very* strong signals. I would bet that these folks are overloading the CM-7000 and a bit of attenuation is all it needs.

My ham transceiver has a knob on the front that lets you dial in 0, 10, 20, or 30 db of attenuation before the signals ever touch any electronics. Normally the front end is pretty robust - so one leaves the knob set at 0 db. But sometimes when there are a lot of strong signals on the band (e.g., during radio contests), the front end overloads - causing a lot of distortion. Adding 10 or 20 db of attenuation, to bring the strong signals down to a level that the front end can handle, is just what the doctor ordered.
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post #101 of 111 Old 06-04-2009, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wws View Post

It would be interesting to know what kind of dynamic range these CECB boxes have. For example, the CM-7000 has been reported to have good sensitivity to weak signals (and my experience is that it does.) Yet there have been a few reports of the CM-7000 messing up on *very* strong signals. I would bet that these folks are overloading the CM-7000 and a bit of attenuation is all it needs.

I find the CM-7000 to have excellent dynamic range. The selectivity remains excellent even while being pounded with numerous 2 to 5 million watt analogs less than 4 miles away. I do have a problem with a local channel 34 (WUSA-DT 9) that hiccups once or twice every minute. Even when attenuated, the problem does not go away. I feel it is more of a compatability issue with WUSA-DT than a signal quality problem.
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post #102 of 111 Old 06-07-2009, 10:52 AM
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I agree: performance is terrific.

All the complaints about the "trappings" of the CM-7000: its crazy remote, unreadable on-screen typeface, no chance of upgrades, etc. are true. (I wouldn't buy it for grandma.)

However, when it comes to what you buy a CECB for, reception, the CM 7000 really performs. The south end of my house is blocked from LOS by 3 big trees. This was going to make the digital transition tough for us, since dynamic multipath (blowing leaves) killed reception on windy afternoons. The CM 7000, combined with an amplified SS-3000, is absolutely rock solid.
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post #103 of 111 Old 06-08-2009, 01:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JNinCA View Post


The CM 7000 is unlike any other CECB I've used. The RF input is horrible. The screen shows a lot of interference. (Like setting your DVD player to output on channel 3, even though there is a channel 3 in the area.) On the chance CM sent me a bum cable, I tried the cables from the other CECBs. No improvement.

This matters to me because so far I'd been hooking up the CECBs through the RF, and the DVD/VCRs through the composite. It's an easier set up for me, both in use and when changing out equipment. That set up will not be possible with this CM 7000. The RF picture is really unusable.

So I'm asking, has anyone else compared RF/coax and composite picture quality? Did I get a bum box, or this (another) limitation in the CM 7000?

Thanks for any info.

On my CM7000, the RF ch 3/4 picture is crisp and clear, though I do find that when I am using the RF output, that the small screen text gets a bit harder to read than it is on S-Video (which is already bad enough).

I expected this, given the small size of the fonts used, but other than that, overall, I find the quality of the video from the CM7000 on RF to be fairly close to what I see with a direct composite connection (and this is quite good, certainly in the top tier for CECBs).

Try flipping the CH3/4 selector switch on the CM7000 back and forth a few times, just to make sure that it is making a clean solid selection.

If you are hooked directly to the set, so there is no possible interference from a VCR or other device, and you still can't get a clean picture on either ch3 or ch4, then you probably do have a CM7000 with a bad RF modulator.

-Delphin
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post #104 of 111 Old 04-15-2013, 06:20 AM
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Well at the risk of "beating a dead horse" I have been reading all the threads and post trying to see what the best OTA converter box that is currently (2013) out there would be for me. I will be using it with a Magnavox CRT "non dig" 32in TV that has s-vid and composite in, along with stereo audio out.
What would you good folks suggest? Or would I be well off to just shag on down to my local Wallyworld and get one of their 35.00 Sunkey ATB150S?
Edit
I do get an excellent signal OTA now on my main 52" 1080p Samsung Plasma using it's built in tuner. I will split the signal in the attic using the FIOS cables that are already in place going to the bedroom Magnavox CRT with a booster on the Ant. before the splitter.

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post #105 of 111 Old 04-15-2013, 07:16 AM
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Unless you really think you'll notice a difference in picture quality using S-video or you want a guide better than next/now, I'd look for the Zenith/Insignia. I really like my CM-7000 but I'd have to agree with the OP on his negatives. Some CMs also seem to have a problem with premature power supply capacitor failure although none of my CMs have that problem and they were purchased almost day one.
To me picture quality was my #1 concern but I like the overall polish of the Zenith/Insignia boxes too.
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post #106 of 111 Old 04-15-2013, 07:43 AM
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Thanks jjeff. Is the Zenith carried by any of the local style retailers? Fry's, R/S ect?

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post #107 of 111 Old 04-15-2013, 07:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Wow talk about resurrection! It's funny to see how much I wrote so long ago. I've moved on to TVs with built-in tuners or my DTV-Pal DVR, so I don't even use any of these any more!

I still have a few TVs with CECBs, but they remain unplugged and gathering dust. I used the Digital Stream every day and was still very satisfied with that one. AFAIK, all the others have worked fine as well.

oldtexasdog, if you or anyone else is in need of a CECB, hit me up via PM and I can send you whichever one you want. Just give me shipping + say 10% to cover Paypal costs and gas smile.gif.
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post #108 of 111 Old 04-15-2013, 08:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord_Zath View Post

I still have a few TVs with CECBs, but they remain unplugged and gathering dust. I used the Digital Stream every day and was still very satisfied with that one. AFAIK, all the others have worked fine as well.
I could say just about the same thing.  Of the four CECBs we have here (one Magnavox, one Zenith, one Zinwell) it's the Digital Stream that remains in use, not out of any superiority over the other converters but because the TV it's connected to is the only analog set we still use (and use only rarely at that), the others having been replaced with sets that have their own ATSC tuners.
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post #109 of 111 Old 04-15-2013, 10:20 AM
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Probably not much out there now in the brand new market, or at least of the top-tier boxes. I see Amazon is still selling Zinwells but it doesn't appear they're the same as the ones I knew and loved; looks completely different including the menus and features like the timer (for recording with a VCR, etc.) and Favorites aren't listed in the manual; I suspect it's been outsourced...

There were only a few boxes with s-video.
My two CMs are still working fine too although I split their use back in the heavy use days, past year or less used for a DVD recorder tuner and a PandP 4:3 TV (next to my main TV) tuner, resp. Nice ~half-day EPG which I still use on occasion.
I've read to beware the Apex 250s due to reliability issues but the 502s may be OK.
There was a TRT box that looked to be the holy grail of them all, may still be sold online from them. Very little exposure here as only sold through them to the best of my knowledge.

Lord_Zath deal sounds hard to beat...

As much time has passed I'd also consider used HD tuners, I've found a couple for $20 each when I picked up a free HD 16:9 CRT about a year ago. Some of the 'older' satellite receivers have HD OTA built-in and don't require a subscription.
I've got an HTL-HD and my friend has an older HIRD-E8 (or E86). I suspect there's a list of others somewhere on AVS or the 'net, the more recent the better as the tuners are of a higher generation, plus DVI or HDMI for future use. At some point they caught on and started requiring a subscription.
Now I can't get any EPG out of those two above. With satellite it's supposed to be great, I've heard it 'may be' accessible for free with a basic dish hook-up but I don't have the sat hardware to try it.

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post #110 of 111 Old 04-15-2013, 01:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord_Zath View Post

Wow talk about resurrection! It's funny to see how much I wrote so long ago. I've moved on to TVs with built-in tuners or my DTV-Pal DVR, so I don't even use any of these any more!

I still have a few TVs with CECBs, but they remain unplugged and gathering dust. I used the Digital Stream every day and was still very satisfied with that one. AFAIK, all the others have worked fine as well.

oldtexasdog, if you or anyone else is in need of a CECB, hit me up via PM and I can send you whichever one you want. Just give me shipping + say 10% to cover Paypal costs and gas smile.gif.

That's a BIG Thank You! PM sent

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post #111 of 111 Old 04-15-2013, 03:19 PM
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Hey I remember that 'smile', which road was I on? biggrin.gif

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