Which Digital converter box should I buy? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 45 Old 04-20-2010, 03:47 PM - Thread Starter
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These all range from $40-$49 shipped. I actually may need to buy 2. If 2 of the same are used on the same floor, will I have a problem with the remotes controlling the other one? If so, can you choose the best and #2? One setup will be with a 32" analog set, VCR, and OTA antenna. The other setup will be a 27" analog set with portable antenna. Thanks.

1) Apex DT150

2) Apex DT250

3) AccessHD 1080-U

4) Magnavox TB110MW9

5) Digital Stream DSP7700P

6) Zinwell ZAT-970A

7) Venturer(no model #) at Target
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post #2 of 45 Old 04-20-2010, 04:15 PM
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Topic moved to proper forum.

Check this topic: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1029256

'Better Living Through Modern, Expensive, Electronic Devices'

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post #3 of 45 Old 04-20-2010, 04:19 PM
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What ever you can find now....

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...

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post #4 of 45 Old 04-20-2010, 05:40 PM
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Probably #1 or #5.
Definitely not #3.
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post #5 of 45 Old 04-20-2010, 05:44 PM
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Probably the Zinwell for your VCR, since it has manual timers, and maybe the Apex for your TV only.
Personally I like the Channel Master CM-7000 for it's better quality S-video(IMO better than the Apex) and the Zenith/Insignia clones for overall reception and design, but you didn't mention either of these so maybe they are no longer available.
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post #6 of 45 Old 04-20-2010, 07:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Arxaw, you had a bad experience with the Magnavox? I haven't come across the Zenith or Insignia. The seven I listed are at Amazon, Walmart and Target.

I added 2 more to the list above.

Which are the 2 best for me? Thanks.
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post #7 of 45 Old 04-20-2010, 07:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McC View Post

Which are the 2 best for me? Thanks.

Again, check the link I posted above. It lists the CECB's in two categories, best and worst, with a tally of votes from end users. It covers over a year of end user experiences. It hasn't been updated for awhile because after the Digital Transition, interest in CECB's dropped off dramatically.

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post #8 of 45 Old 04-20-2010, 09:50 PM
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There are a lot of Zenith DTT901s on eBay, selling for around $40-$50. Many of them are "new in box."

Even though I have an HDTV (a 32" LCD), I use one in addition to the HD DVRs that I use for normal viewing. Its easily-accessible signal meter is convenient for aiming my antenna. Its manual channel-add mode is nice for channel-surfing for distant stations because it lets me step manually through all the physical (RF) channels to see which ones have signals on them, without having to add them to my channel list and clutter it up.

With an RF channel 3 connection to the TV, the picture looks pretty decent. With composite video it looks a bit better.
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post #9 of 45 Old 04-20-2010, 10:17 PM
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My Radio Shack has a bunch of Digital Streams on the shelf, and Best Buy here still has the Apex.

Amazon sells the Zinwell for $40.00 (w/free shipping).

Solid Signal still has the Channel Master.
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post #10 of 45 Old 04-21-2010, 09:16 AM
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I've read that the Apex are junk with maybe the exception of the 502 model.
My 'perception' is that Magnavox and Venturer are el cheapo.
I would pick the Zinwell out of that list; is in the better pic and tuner category of CECBs and only of a few with timers (VCR); crummy EPG though and has been found to be glitchy on the timer and favorites programming (see thread, there may be workarounds to these problems).

The Artec makes a good Zenith/Insignia substitute that can still be bought online. Same chipset, quality, power miser, etc. Better EPG and can be run off of 12 V (automotive, etc.).

Check out the TRT thread, there are two boxes but I forget which one was prefered. This mysterious brand 'appears' to be the holy grail of CECBs but most of us didn't even know about it until it was too late (coupons expired) due to poor marketing by the company. They have to be bought directly from the company to the best of my memory (info in the thread). One box reminded me of a ChannelMaster (pic Q/tuner/s-video) with a great EPG AND a program timer, plus some other goodies.

I love my ChannelMaster though, my Zinwells make good VCR helpers, and my Artecs are good for camping (+ decent EPG).

Check out the aforementioned vote thread but I wouldn't put too much emphasis on the actual tally of votes. The reason being is that there is a very uneven distribution of votes (brick&mortar vs online, popular brands vs less known, etc.). Read through the folks' discussions though - good stuff.

Also watch your local Craigslist - I use the keywords "tv converter" in the category 'all for sale/wanted.' Note: Many folks are now selling TVs cheap and throwing in a converter that is worth more than the TV as they replace them with flat panels, so check out some of those ads within this search too.

You will have a remote control problem with any two of the same in close proximity but hopefully they'll be in different rooms. Some different brands will even control each other (ex: a CM will effect a Zinwell but not the other way around).

What's the diffierence between an OTA and portable antenna?

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post #11 of 45 Old 04-21-2010, 11:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. By OTA antenna, I mean my outside one.
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post #12 of 45 Old 04-21-2010, 02:06 PM
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Oops, yeah - totally forgot about the Artec. That's still available (new from Meritline), and it's a good one, too.
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post #13 of 45 Old 04-21-2010, 03:24 PM
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+1 on the Artec, or a Zenith or Insignia (BestBuy clone of the Zenith), if you can get one on eBay.
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post #14 of 45 Old 04-21-2010, 03:54 PM
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Here's a post from not too long ago of some useful online retail links:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...0#post18397380

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post #15 of 45 Old 04-22-2010, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floydage View Post

I've read that the Apex are junk with maybe the exception of the 502 model.
My 'perception' is that Magnavox and Venturer are el cheapo.
I would pick the Zinwell out of that list; is in the better pic and tuner category of CECBs and only of a few with timers (VCR); crummy EPG though and has been found to be glitchy on the timer and favorites programming (see thread, there may be workarounds to these problems).

The Artec makes a good Zenith/Insignia substitute that can still be bought online. Same chipset, quality, power miser, etc. Better EPG and can be run off of 12 V (automotive, etc.).

Check out the TRT thread, there are two boxes but I forget which one was prefered. This mysterious brand 'appears' to be the holy grail of CECBs but most of us didn't even know about it until it was too late (coupons expired) due to poor marketing by the company. They have to be bought directly from the company to the best of my memory (info in the thread). One box reminded me of a ChannelMaster (pic Q/tuner/s-video) with a great EPG AND a program timer, plus some other goodies.

I love my ChannelMaster though, my Zinwells make good VCR helpers, and my Artecs are good for camping (+ decent EPG).

Check out the aforementioned vote thread but I wouldn't put too much emphasis on the actual tally of votes. The reason being is that there is a very uneven distribution of votes (brick&mortar vs online, popular brands vs less known, etc.). Read through the folks' discussions though - good stuff.

Also watch your local Craigslist - I use the keywords "tv converter" in the category 'all for sale/wanted.' Note: Many folks are now selling TVs cheap and throwing in a converter that is worth more than the TV as they replace them with flat panels, so check out some of those ads within this search too.

You will have a remote control problem with any two of the same in close proximity but hopefully they'll be in different rooms. Some different brands will even control each other (ex: a CM will effect a Zinwell but not the other way around).

What's the diffierence between an OTA and portable antenna?

I have two Venturer CECB boxes I bought at Target in 2008; they are working great and have a powerful tuner. The menus are quite similar to the Zenith. They are the exact same box as the Winegard box, and can also operate on batteries with a special kit available from Winegard.
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post #16 of 45 Old 04-22-2010, 04:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alg2468 View Post

I have two Venturer CECB boxes I bought at Target in 2008; they are working great and have a powerful tuner. The menus are quite similar to the Zenith. They are the exact same box as the Winegard box, and can also operate on batteries with a special kit available from Winegard.

Great, good to know, thanks! I think the part about Target and I recall it being the same as an RCA (good thing I wrote "perception" ):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_CECB_units

But after further review I see it's a different RCA model than I expected (I expected the basic Walmart version). Decent chipset, Zenith/Insignia-like. Middle pic Q per:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/e...es-ratings.htm

Funny how many of these seem to have a kinda common design, check out how many share the LG decoder/tuner set. Throw in the Artec as well.

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post #17 of 45 Old 01-22-2011, 01:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arxaw View Post

Probably #1 or #5.
Definitely not #3.

I've got #3, and it's worked pretty good for me since I got it in July, especially with two antennas thru a splitter and a 50ft cable run.

Now in NE Tucson, AZ with a cheap rabbit ears antenna. Got everything except KTTU (MyNetwork).
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post #18 of 45 Old 01-22-2011, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by SycamoreSeej View Post

I've got #3, and it's worked pretty good for me since I got it in July, especially with two antennas thru a splitter and a 50ft cable run.

I think that list had since been edited as I believe #3 was a Magnavox (see post #6). Needed a list-lock.

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post #19 of 45 Old 01-23-2011, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floydage View Post

I think that list had since been edited as I believe #3 was a Magnavox (see post #6). Needed a list-lock.

Ah. Wouldn't get a Magnetbox if my life depended on it. I'd get a second Access 1080 for my room when i get the money. $25 on TigerDirect.com.

Now in NE Tucson, AZ with a cheap rabbit ears antenna. Got everything except KTTU (MyNetwork).
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post #20 of 45 Old 01-24-2011, 12:23 AM
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If the converters are located in seperate rooms try to use the same model. If both televisions are on at the same time an echo can be induced due to processing times in devices.

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post #21 of 45 Old 01-24-2011, 08:52 AM
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That's a good price, Seej. I'm surprised anyone is selling new boxes that cheap. I think they only charge a couple of bucks to ship too (slow boat).

Yeah I've experienced the echo problem, mirayge. Unfortunately I'm short on ChannelMasters (s-video living room) while I have an abundance of Zinwells. Not a huge problem as I'm usually the only one here but muting the CM is common while I'm doing stuff in the kitchen.

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post #22 of 45 Old 01-25-2011, 10:11 AM
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Any DVD recorder with a digital tuner can be used instead of a CECB. Last month I purchased a Magnavox digital tuner ZV450MW8 VHS/DVD recorder through Craig's List for $20. The digital tuner works well for viewing OTA stations and the DVD recorder works well recording those stations. This ZV450MW8 is programmed to record from various local stations almost daily. The VHS mechanism "eats" videotapes so this recorder is not used to play or record videotapes. I suppose I should place a strip of tape over the VHS slot to prevent VHS use by another family member.

The first photo shows the ZV450MW8 and a Philips indoor antenna. The second photo is a screen shot from channel 10.3. The picture quality is actually much better than my low res screen shot demonstrates.
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post #23 of 45 Old 01-25-2011, 11:21 AM
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My favorite CECB model is the Zenith DTT901 seen at the top of my home office main stack in the first photo. Number two is the Zinwell 970A seen set up with a well-used analog tuner Panasonic DMR-ES35V recorder in the second photo.
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post #24 of 45 Old 01-25-2011, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DigaDo View Post

Any DVD recorder with a digital tuner can be used instead of a CECB.

And I suspect they would have an HD tuner which would be good for 'down the road.' I bring that up because I've been on the lookout for one of those widescreen CRT HDTVs on the cheap but not all came with digital tuners; would be kind of a waste to use one with a 480i output DTV converter tuner.

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post #25 of 45 Old 01-25-2011, 05:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floydage View Post

And I suspect they would have an HD tuner which would be good for 'down the road.' I bring that up because I've been on the lookout for one of those widescreen CRT HDTVs on the cheap but not all came with digital tuners; would be kind of a waste to use one with a 480i output DTV converter tuner.

Devices that record to removable media (DVDs) are prohibited by law from recording in high definition. Notice that the Magnavox ZV450MW8 has a "SDTV" tuner, see the top edge of the right side of the front panel in the attached photo.
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post #26 of 45 Old 01-26-2011, 09:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DigaDo View Post

Devices that record to removable media (DVDs) are prohibited by law from recording in high definition. Notice that the Magnavox ZV450MW8 has a "SDTV" tuner, see the top edge of the right side of the front panel in the attached photo.

Yes and no, also not a legal issue:

http://hometheater.about.com/od/dvdr...drecgfaq14.htm

I wonder if the HD on the ones with the ATSC tuners can be viewed in monitor form pre-recorder? Would be nice if we could do the same with the converter boxes (i.e. pre-conversion).

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post #27 of 45 Old 01-26-2011, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floydage View Post

Yes and no, also not a legal issue:

http://hometheater.about.com/od/dvdr...drecgfaq14.htm

I wonder if the HD on the ones with the ATSC tuners can be viewed in monitor form pre-recorder? Would be nice if we could do the same with the converter boxes (i.e. pre-conversion).

The above linked material confuses the ability to tune ATSC/HD signals with reproduction/copying of HD material in its original quality to recordable media (DVDs).

Yes, admittedly, those with customized computers have been able to record in original HD quality to removable media, but that is different technology than that employed in commercially produced/marketed stand-alone DVD recorders for sale in the USA.

This material addresses some of the legal issues:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital..._Copyright_Act

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floydage View Post

And I suspect they would have an HD tuner which would be good for 'down the road.' I bring that up because I've been on the lookout for one of those widescreen CRT HDTVs on the cheap but not all came with digital tuners; would be kind of a waste to use one with a 480i output DTV converter tuner.

It might not be a waste. I was of similar opinion when I lucked upon a free Panasonic CT-34WX54 on craigslist. When I hooked up my Zenith DTT-901 I was taken aback by the PQ. I wish I could bring people in as an experiment just to see how many think the picture is HD; I am betting it would be over 90%. I guess with the line-doubling on this set I am getting the equivalent of 480p EDTV, but never have I seen a 480i picture look so good.

Check out a similar set-up if you have opportunity, you may be surprised.
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post #29 of 45 Old 01-26-2011, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by DragonLoaf View Post

It might not be a waste. I was of similar opinion when I lucked upon a free Panasonic CT-34WX54 on craigslist. When I hooked up my Zenith DTT-901 I was taken aback by the PQ. I wish I could bring people in as an experiment just to see how many think the picture is HD; I am betting it would be over 90%. I guess with the line-doubling on this set I am getting the equivalent of 480p EDTV, but never have I seen a 480i picture look so good.

I was stunned with the picture quality of my Zenith DTT901 connected to a 30" widescreen LCD "HD Ready" TV. I have more than one DTT901 but only one is in regular use, currently connected through its composite outputs to a Panasonic DMR-ES35V recorder feeding its RF output to a 13" RCA CRT TV.

Those with the Channel Master 7000 CECB also use glowing terms concerning the S-Video output of that model. I've never seen a CM 7000 in use so I have no way to compare the picture quality. My Zinwell 970A was put back in the box after very little use.

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post #30 of 45 Old 01-26-2011, 03:10 PM
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I have several 901s and 7000s and while it's true the 7000(via S-video) is sharper than the 901, via composite they both look similar or maybe even a nod to the 901. I've never used a Zinwell but I did have a Digital Stream for a short while and found it's composite output very lacking in picture quality, it didn't have a S-video output.
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