Deciding which converter box to get - Page 3 - AVS Forum
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post #61 of 82 Old 09-03-2009, 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Floydage View Post

No way. You must have gotten a lemon. I really like the ones I've got, especially for the timer which I haven't had any issues with. PQ on composite and reception is equivalent to my CM. Now/Next does indeed suck but I mostly use the CM for EPG info...

Oh, the timers seem to work alright.

Other than if someone needed it for that, though, there are quite a few boxes I'd recommend before it.
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post #62 of 82 Old 09-03-2009, 11:05 AM
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I currently have the DTVPal Plus and I am very happy with it so far. However, I've been reading that the reception on it isn't as good as it is on other CECBs, even though it has some of the nicest features. There are two other boxes that I've thought about getting (that are actually available), which are the Magnavox TB110MW9 and the Tivax STB-T8. I know the Magnavox doesn't have analog passthrough, but I can live without that. They also say the remote for it is terrible, but that isn't an issue for me either. I don't even care too much about the program guide or other nice features that certain ones have.

The main thing that I care about is the reception, and I'm hoping that someone has compared at least two of the three boxes that I've mentioned to see which one picks up the most channels or has the most stable signal among the channels. However, if there is a CECB available that has better reception than all three, that would be great. On the DTVPal Plus, the signal usually starts to break up when it drops below 58% and then loses the picture completely when its around 50%, but video reviews of the Magnavox and Tivax boxes that I've seen show the signal strength WELL below that on certain channels with no interruption. Can anyone recommend one?
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post #63 of 82 Old 09-03-2009, 11:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

But when I quickly perused the Artec board and got a sense of the pros and cons, I realized that its strengths were what really mattered to me - decent reception, a better than average EPG (not as extended as that of the PP, DS, or Apex, but acceptable), control buttons on the box, small footprint, a strength indicator (a simple one, but at least some something, and with an audible sound I think), and most important, the ability to have stations added/deleted manually.

I remember when I tried to setup the CM just prior to the final conversion to digital and I was unable to manually punch in a desired station that hadn't already been scanned in. I would not want to repeat that inconvenience. With the other boxes I have, I can simply enter in a station as desired. What's nice about the Insignia and PP (maybe the Zinwell does this, too), is that when a new subchannel becomes available, those boxes AUTOMATICALLY add that channel in. My PP notified me the other day of "new program added" or something like that when I turned on the box. I thought, "what? I didn't add anything." To my surprise, one of the PBS stations added a fourth subchannel and the PP not only picked it up, but notified me of the addition and automatically added it to its program guide listing.

With the Channel Master, in order to add a new station, a re-scanning is required.

I saw a You Tube explanation of the Digital Stream product and its program listing looks decent and better than average with its ability to go out in time (I think it is 12 hours) as well as to describe the content of the program.

Sounds like you got the Artec Pro (an earlier post you listed an LL). The ones I see listed without the word "Pro" (I think LL and LS) don't have control buttons on the box other than power. Pro costs $5-10 more and I think comes with a composite cable set. There is also a pricier TVGOS version, probably has the buttons and such. LL is the LG chip tuner and LS is the Sanyo can tuner. I think the Pro uses an LS (older unit has it but haven't seen any breakdowns on more recent units > see Artec thread). More weird tuner changes like Zinwell.

There is an update scan function on the CM (i.e. so you don't wipe out your old stuff). I do wish I could manually tweak it per channel though. I've got two CBS's here, one VHF and one UHF (upper VHF was too hard for the ol' rabbit ears so they added the UHF). My Zinwells and Artec show both but the CM only shows one and I don't have a clue which one it picked (yeah, I wish it listed the RF # too!). I think my CM has displayed new subs on its own but I can't swear to it, not that many new ones here, my memory, etc.

The DS is 12 hours? I was about to add it to my extended EPG box wish list but want several days or more (my CM already gives me something like 11 hours).

What kind of prices you see on the PP?
I looked at the Sears website after reading your posts (thank you!) but they just list a Pal and the accompanyng pic is of a TR-40. Of course some of these websites are poorly correlated with the local stores (Sears shows a ship to store function though).

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post #64 of 82 Old 09-03-2009, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcy919 View Post

Can anyone recommend one?[reception]

I've gotten good performance from my Artec (LL tuner version), Channel Master, and Zinwells. I'm just giving you feedback on the ones I own although I've seen good tuner reviews on other boxes, don't want to misinterpret the info (plus I can't remember it all! ).

I haven't extensively tested the Artec but the LL is the same tuner used in the late Zenith/Insignias which I read are pretty good; it scanned in everything the other boxes did (good attic antenna though) and most of the channels came in when I hooked it to my luggage rack antenna on my van.

Some Artecs have the LS tuner (my previous post) which is the same as one of the Zinwell models (970A) so I suspect it works well. You probably won't find a Zinwell anymore.

There might be a thread on this subject but I don't know where. It might be good to have threads on each specific major performance function.

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post #65 of 82 Old 09-03-2009, 12:38 PM
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I went to a direct link for the LL version of Artec by freetvsignal and got a display of that model, not the model that is displayed on their home page.
Therefore, I bellieve that the LL model is the one that is being shipped - the pro model was listed as costing $9 after the use of the coupon.

The PP sold at Sears was about $48, I believe.

Yes, I know I can update the scan process for the CM, but a station cannot be manually entered, and the process of re-scanning is much more complicated that what the Insignia and PP do for adding a station, which is done automatically.
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post #66 of 82 Old 09-03-2009, 12:40 PM
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The page I ordered from listed the pro as costing $9, the LL as free. That is the model I apparently ordered.

Sears sells the PP at about $48 or $58 when they have it. I called Sears online and they only carry the Pal.

Yes, I know about the CM update scan feature; the process of adding a station is much more complicated than how the Insignia/Zenith and PP handle such a matter.
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post #67 of 82 Old 09-03-2009, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floydage View Post

I think my CM has displayed new subs on its own but I can't swear to it, not that many new ones here, my memory, etc.

I seem to remember my CM7000 doing it, too.
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post #68 of 82 Old 09-03-2009, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcy919 View Post

The main thing that I care about is the reception, and I'm hoping that someone has compared at least two of the three boxes that I've mentioned to see which one picks up the most channels or has the most stable signal among the channels. However, if there is a CECB available that has better reception than all three, that would be great.

The CM7000 has the best-rated PQ of any CECB (using s-video - composite is no better than most, though). It also has possibly the most sensitive tuner.

The only real faults it has are that the font is very small and hard to read on a smaller TV sitting far enough away, and that it has no pass-through. The remote's not all that comfortable, either, but I don't consider that a real fault, since it does do the job (not universal, though - few are). You could always use an aftermarket learning remote, too (some people make a big deal out of the fact that it has a few, useless buttons on it that don't do anything - but that's certainly not a "fault", either).

Also - you can't just "add" a channel - you have to do a re-scan to add it. But the re-scan is fairly fast, and you don't lose any of the channels you already have programmed in.

But if a priority for you is having the best possible PQ, and you have an s-video input, then the CM can't be beat for that (it's also one of the best boxes to use with a recorder that uses an IR blaster to change the channels on it - as it works with pretty much all of them). As a plus, it does have a halfway-decent program guide (you say that doesn't matter, but you do get used to it. That's why using the Zinwell drives me nuts sometimes - there's absolutely no program info).

I own the Pal (regular - F105) and the CM7000, and the CM pretty much beats in in every way except the guide (and the Pal has timers, too, if that matters to you). I will say that the build quality between the two is like night and day, also.

The Magnavox sort of has a reputation for being junk (it has a higher than normal incidence of people getting "non-working" models right out of the box - and also failings within a short amount of time), and as far as the Tivax goes, everything about it is nice (especially the PQ over composite - it's supposed to be nearly as good as the CM's over s-video), except for the fact that it's a bit slower than average to change channels, and (unfortunately) the tuner's not up there with the very strongest. Still a very good box, though.
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post #69 of 82 Old 09-03-2009, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

But if a priority for you is having the best possible PQ, and you have an s-video input, then the CM can't be beat for that (it's also one of the best boxes to use with a recorder that uses an IR blaster to change the channels on it - as it works with pretty much all of them).

It's not really the picture quality that is a priority, although I would like for it to be pretty good. My top priority is the signal reception where I might either receive more channels or have a more stable signal on the channels I already receive with the DTVPal Plus.
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post #70 of 82 Old 09-03-2009, 01:10 PM
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The CM should beat the Pal by a mile in that department. It does for me, anyway. At least for pure sensitivity.

I actually pick up stations from 200 miles away during tropo. I know that's during tropo - but still - none of my other tuners ever pick up anything that far away.

If your problems are being caused by multipath, though, the Zenith (or Insignia) would be your best bet, because the CM's not as good with that as those models are.

They say the Artecs are pretty much the same as the Zenith's - but I've never had an Artec myself (did have a Zenith, though).
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post #71 of 82 Old 09-03-2009, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

The CM should beat the Pal by a mile in that department. It does for me, anyway.

I actually pick up stations from 200 miles away during tropo. I know that's during tropo - but still - none of my other tuners ever pick up anything that far away.

Thanks, and I'll definitely look into that one. With the DTVPal Plus, the farthest station I've received when I placed my indoor antenna outside was from 165 miles away. But, that only lasted about five minutes!
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post #72 of 82 Old 09-03-2009, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

The page I ordered from listed the pro as costing $9, the LL as free. That is the model I apparently ordered.

Sears sells the PP at about $48 or $58 when they have it. I called Sears online and they only carry the Pal.

Yes, I know about the CM update scan feature; the process of adding a station is much more complicated than how the Insignia/Zenith and PP handle such a matter.

Deja vu all over again.

Sounds like you'll be getting the buttonless Artec model. If that means much to you and you're into electronic tinkering, the guys over yonder Artec thread have figured out how to kluge in their own buttons (disclaimer: I don't recall anyone testing it yet).

Ah, so I need to check my actual Sears store. Thanks for calling but you didn't have to go to that much trouble (glad you did though!). Now 10 bucks I would pay, not too crazy about 20 or 30. I guess it fluctuates on sales like Target, Frys, etc. I'll have to find a link to their weekly sales ad since their website is useless. Here's a cool but non-affiliated link someone posted for Frys:

http://www.frys-electronics-ads.com/

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post #73 of 82 Old 09-03-2009, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

The CM7000 has the best-rated PQ of any CECB (using s-video - composite is no better than most, though). It also has possibly the most sensitive tuner.

Yeah that's one quality box, it's even in a quality box.
Too bad they don't know how to write code; has all the workings of a top-notch hardware company to me (RF stuff, antennas, etc.).
I'd take another one for a 10-spot over most of the free boxes left. Frys is on the other side of town for me and my trips to friends that way have been out of sync with the sales.

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post #74 of 82 Old 09-03-2009, 09:52 PM
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After doing some more research on available CECBs, I am leaning toward buying the Zinwell ZAT-970A box since I can get it for free after using the $40 coupon on Amazon and it seems to have pretty good reviews. My question is, would it be worth it to spend the extra $10 on the Tivax STB-T8 or $30 (or more) on the Channel Master CM-7000? The main thing I care about is the signal reception since I already have DirecTV and I only watch OTA programming sometimes, but good picture quality is also nice. I already own the DTVPal Plus, but I have another $40 coupon.
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post #75 of 82 Old 09-03-2009, 10:55 PM
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The information I reviewed leads me to believe that the Artec3TAP-LL model ordered from the website (not the pro) does not contain control buttons on the box. That was what was featured in the picture and the features listing.

I'll see when I get it.

I had called the Sears online catalog in my desparation to get another PP - that's how I learned that they don't carry the PP, just the Pal. That told me how limited some of these boxes are - even the Zinwell is difficult to find.

As another board member said, he wouldn't want to pay more than a few extra dollars for a box. That's how I felt about the Digital Stream. I wasn't willing to spend $20 for that box after using the coupon. If I am going to spend $20 for such a box, I will be willing to spend another 30 or 40 for a box I really want. But for another $5 or 10, I'll go with a box that is better than average, without being considered necessarily "the best" in many regards.


mcy919- seems like reception and sensitivity are your most important determinants for choosing your next box. The consensus is that the CM fits that bill, but keep in mind that the navigation of functions through the use of the remote that accompanies the box is very clunky and nowhere as quick to use as that of the function buttons on the Zinwell or the PP. I am amazed at how quickly I can navigate through screens with the Zinwell remote, and I still find the navigation on the PP remote very user friendly - I use various buttons with more ease than the buttons on the Insignia remote which isn't too bad.

So, if all you really care about are the two things you mentioned, CM may be your choice. As was said before, the overall reception on the Zinwell and PP are not as strong as that of the Insignia. I haven't plugged in my CM post complete-digital conversion date. Prior to that it was not picking up a few of the weaker stations as well as the Insignia.

You may also want to consider the readability of displayed information on the screen. Be prepared to experience very tiny text on the CM display. If you have a large screen, the tiny text may not be annoying.
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post #76 of 82 Old 09-03-2009, 11:03 PM
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myc919- I thought I read on some posts that Amazon doesn't accept the govt. coupon.

If you can get the Zinwell for free, not a bad deal. Its reception is decent, although it doesn't seem to be picking up the VHF channels (6 and 12). My other boxes do.

If you are distant from signals and need a very sensitive and strong tuner, then the CM or Insignia/Zenith are good ones. I have no experience with the Tivax so I can't give any reviews on that one.
The other option is to invest money on a good antenna. Strong inside antennas can be purchased for between $25 and $50. Get a good antenna and you don't need the "strongest" tuner.

My PP was not picking up stations well inside my residence until I moved the antenna ten feet out of the kitchen area, but still far from the outside window, and it picks up all the available stations fairly well with minor need for antenna position adjustment for just a few stations. This reminded me of the importance of using a good antenna to optimize reception performance.
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post #77 of 82 Old 09-04-2009, 01:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

myc919- I thought I read on some posts that Amazon doesn't accept the govt. coupon.

If you can get the Zinwell for free, not a bad deal. Its reception is decent, although it doesn't seem to be picking up the VHF channels (6 and 12). My other boxes do.

If you are distant from signals and need a very sensitive and strong tuner, then the CM or Insignia/Zenith are good ones. I have no experience with the Tivax so I can't give any reviews on that one.

Amazon does accept the govt. coupon - you just can't use them right at checkout. Also, only one coupon per order. You need to enter the coupon info first at amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=amb_link_7343992_3 ?ie=UTF8&docId=1000246011&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=hero-quick-promo&pf_rd_r=02ZXXPKWHZ61RPKDZY MG&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_p=488615291&pf_rd_i=B001DVZXC0 (I added a couple of spaces so I could list the link).

mcy919 - Out of the 4 types of boxes I have (Zenith 900, Zinwell 970, CM-7000 and iNet SSR1921) each has pros and cons.

Zenith 900 - early model which has the audio issue problem with the left channel. Don't like it for that reason. Otherwise good recption, decent EPG and features.

Zinwell 970 - I like the timer feature but haven't used it too much. Poor EPG and I've had issues with audio and video getting out of sync. Happens when you have slight picture dropouts. Can't imagine watching a couple of hours of recorded shows with audio/video out of sync

CM-7000 Overall a good box. Terrible remote design but has a good EPG. Small fonts do make it difficult to read. Reception is a mixed bag. It might just be too sensitive for its own good. The only CECB I have that I've seen 100% signal strength while the picture is stuttering (multipath issue). Seems to lock onto most channels ok, but with my antenna the way it is won't show VHF 9. It reports that VHF 9 has 0% signal strengh (sometimes 12%). With the same antenna/cable my iNet box shows 40% and has a steady picture.

iNet SSR1921 This is a rebadged Tivax model with the analog passthrough. Available for free after coupon at ezdtv . com. Has good picture quality (using components a notch less sharp than the CM-7000 using S-Video on my 27" tv). Reception in my location seems to be the best overall out of the 4. Decent EPG and pretty good remote design.
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post #78 of 82 Old 09-04-2009, 04:13 PM
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CM-7000 Overall a good box. Terrible remote design but has a good EPG. Small fonts do make it difficult to read. Reception is a mixed bag. It might just be too sensitive for its own good. The only CECB I have that I've seen 100% signal strength while the picture is stuttering (multipath issue). Seems to lock onto most channels ok, but with my antenna the way it is won't show VHF 9. It reports that VHF 9 has 0% signal strengh (sometimes 12%). With the same antenna/cable my iNet box shows 40% and has a steady picture.

iNet SSR1921 This is a rebadged Tivax model with the analog passthrough. Available for free after coupon at ezdtv . com. Has good picture quality (using components a notch less sharp than the CM-7000 using S-Video on my 27" tv). Reception in my location seems to be the best overall out of the 4. Decent EPG and pretty good remote design.

Interesting as Wiki lists them as having the same tuner. Maybe there's software programmability of some tuners available to the box designers? Although it could be IC variation based on your info: Upper end of VHF band and fringe-sounding reception (40%).

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post #79 of 82 Old 09-04-2009, 05:03 PM
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I decided to get the Zinwell ZAT970A. I read lots of reviews on that one and the other two I thought about getting (the Tivax STB-T8 and the Channel Master CM-7000), and that one just seemed to be the best choice overall. Plus, getting it for free made the decision a lot easier!

Thanks for all of the feedback!
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post #80 of 82 Old 09-04-2009, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

I was rushed for time - I had one day left. I had no idea that almost every store was out of the boxes...........
The choice was the ArtecT3AP-LL. .......When these CECBs die through use, I assume that if Dish and Zinwell still make their boxes, they will have improvements and I will not mind paying $50-$70. What I hope they offer in the future is an LCD that displays the channel the box is tuned to.

i have the ARTEC....overall, it works well....so i think u'll be fine.....it has some interesting features/attributes that no other boxes have.....

and as for dtv converters in the future > i bet there wont be any....maybe one or 2 brands that will fade away quickly with time, at most.....all new tv's have had dtv tuners for years now so there wont be any demand/incentive for manufacturers to supply converters....or if they do they will be very expensive....maybe those will have an LCD display.....but i bet things will never get to that point....just my guess....

*** its high time to go back to OTA antennas and CANCEL our cable/satellite pay tv services! their greed is totally & insanely out of control! ***
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post #81 of 82 Old 09-09-2009, 08:56 PM
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To my relief, the ArtecT3AP-LL was delivered today by Federal Express, just as ordered from the freetvsignal website.

(Floydage - you had remarked that you thought I had ordered the Pro model due to what you saw on the ftvsig website. It appeared that the Pro model was being sold. I had to do a search for this model to have the offer displayed from the ftvsig website. Along with the "free" LL was the Pro, which for some reason was being sold for $9 after the use of the coupon. And as I posted earlier, I swear the next day when I double checked the site, the LL box was not available as free or available. I wasn't aware of MeritLine, so this was a stroke of good fortune given that I waited until last minute to use my coupon and was desparately trying to find a box other than the Apex 250 that fit most of my criteria and for which I wouldn't have to lay out more than a few bucks, which is what I would have had done for the Digital Stream being sold by Radio Shack for $58+. I simply wanted a decent box which offered an EPG that listed program content other than "now and next.")

I was concerned that another model might come, but it was the LL model.

It came protected only in the boxed container that all CECBs are packaged in, but at least freetvsignal put that box INSIDE a Federal Express shipping bag. So, when I opened up the bag, the box looked brand new, unscathed.

It should also be noted that FTVS kept me informed of my order along the way - emails were sent confirming my order, describing it, providing a tracking number for the FedEx package, and when I clicked on the tracking number, I could follow its location both in time and location. Yesterday, I was informed through FedEx tracking that it was delivered to a city in the state of my residence which was about two hours from where I live. Late in the afternoon the package was delivered to me - telling me that the package never sat around but continued on its way without delay.

The shipment took about 8 days to arrive, but that included a holiday weekday and the weekend, so I figure the destination time took about five days, and for a "no cost" purchase with free shipping, the turnaround time was excellent. For a free item, I would have been patient if the delivery time was a month!

Perhaps Solid Signal doesn't do this kind of packaging because they use UPS and find it easier just to place a shipping label on the box itself. Seeing how easy ftvsig did it got me to think of what little effort was required to provide at least a minium degree of protection to the box during shipping. Maybe UPS is less expensive to Solid Signal than Federal Express.

My initial review of the box is posted on the Artec site. I will say that just by looking at it and a quick scan through the manual, that it does what I had hoped (although I thought this model had channel selection buttons on the box, not just a power on/off button)
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post #82 of 82 Old 09-10-2009, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

It came protected only in the boxed container that all CECBs are packaged in, but at least freetvsignal put that box INSIDE a Federal Express shipping bag. So, when I opened up the bag, the box looked brand new, unscathed.

Same for mine (FTVS) except the bag was just a plastic-wrap type thing, no bubble pack, padding, etc. I bud of mine that runs a warehouse claims Fed-X is gentler than UPS. Maybe it doesn't matter as the product boxes are padded inside.

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