Zenith DTT900 DTV to Analog SD Converter Box
Purchased from Radio Shack store for $65.54 after tax ($25.54 after coupon).
+ Tuner pulls in signal very well. (I get fairly good reception despite unfavorable location.)
+ Attractive, intuitive user interface and remote control.
+ Easy to manually tune channels that aren't saved in channel list. (It even has a predictive-type drop-down list when you start punching in a channel number.)
+ Has a lot of options for closed caption appearance (font, size, text color/tranlucency, background color/translucency, text shadow type/color.)
+ Small footprint fits in tight spaces (e.g. next to DVD player). Looks good.
+ Remote has a TV power button, which was easily programmed to work with my (old Magnavox) TV.
+ Program guide and menu do not interrupt what you're watching. Menu is even mostly translucent.
+ Signal meter beeps faster with stronger signal so you can adjust antenna without seeing TV screen. (Unfortunately, the meter turns itself off after 60 seconds, presumably for those who inadvertently turn it on and don't know how to turn it off.)
Ways it could be better:
- If I could add just one thing, it would definitely be one or more intermediate zoom levels between 100% fullscreen (cropped) and 100% widescreen (letterboxed 16:9). Several stations around here frequently broadcast what seems to be a 14:9 (or close to it) picture. But they send a 16:9 signal that includes black bars on the sides. So if you set the DTT900 to show widescreen (set up using a 4:3 TV of course) it adds black bars on the top and bottom, and you end up with wasted space on *all four* sides and a smaller than necessary picture. Silly. But of course if you set the DTT900 to cropped, you're missing part of the picture. (Some other coupon-eligible boxes have a 14:9 zoom mode.)
- Program guide only has current and next program on each channel; would be be nice if it had at least the next several hours. (Some other coupon-eligible boxes have a full week in advance program guide.)
(This mini-rant get its own paragraph
- CC button on the remote, instead of turning CC on/off, cycles between 15 (FIFTEEN!) settings. (Digital 1-6, Analog CC 1-4, Analog Text 1-4, Off) Yes, that means if you want to turn captions off and then back on without using the menu, you have to press the CCD button a total of 17 times! Are they kidding? One press shows you the current option without changing it, and that's fine. If any CC is on, the second press should always turn it off, and then further presses could start cycling through other options in case you want them.
- Signal strength meter only a bar; would be nice if it gave a number. (Some other coupon-eligible boxes give a number.)
- Can't be switched off; power button puts it in standby mode.
- Remote is required for setup or any features. Box itself has only power and channel buttons. Lost remote = out of luck.
- No smart antenna jack. (Some other coupon-eligible boxes have one.)
I haven't noticed the left channel audio issue others described.