ATSC Converter Box comparisons - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 1867 Old 01-18-2008, 02:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Has anyone compiled a comparison of the converter boxes presently or shortly to be available on the market? In particular I am interested in which has the best tuner performance/latetst generation tuners in terms of handling moderately weak signal and/or multipath. For example my Samsung DLP set has a better tuner in this respect than does the HR20 attached to it.


I have two analog TV sets with DirecTV attached, but I'd like to be able to tune the local OTA ATSC feeds as well.
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post #2 of 1867 Old 01-18-2008, 03:39 PM
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I have a (excel compatible) spreadsheet of the converters and what info I could find about them.

You can find it at octopus.freeyellow.com/CECB_list_wip.xls

I plan on keeping it up to date for the next few months, the latest version will be at that URL.

I think it would be good to post it as a sticky at the start of this thread, but I don't remember how to get it into HTML format nor do I know how to make a sticky.

The only information I could find about how good a box works was an article at:

hdtvexpert.com

and all it said was " works very well. (No word on what generation 8VSB receiver is used in the DTT900, but it's at least Gen5..."

(Sorry about hacking up the URLs. There's some rule about not being allowed to post URLs if you haven't posted three things)
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post #3 of 1867 Old 01-18-2008, 03:48 PM
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>I have a (excel compatible) spreadsheet of the converters and what info I

>(Sorry about hacking up the URLs. There's some rule about not being allowed to post URLs if you haven't posted three things)

Hmmm. Come to think about it, if you ask me a question my answer would be #3........ 8-)
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post #4 of 1867 Old 01-18-2008, 04:18 PM
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When you say a unit does not have S-Video output does that mean that in only has composite?
AFAIK tuner generations are vendor dependent the 5th generation tuner design from one vendor does not mean that it is any better then the 4th generation tuner designed by another vendor who started designing tuners a couple of years later.
I think it would also be important to know what format options are available for 16:9 resolution broadcasts, such as letterbox, zoom, centercut etc.
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post #5 of 1867 Old 01-18-2008, 07:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walford View Post

I think it would also be important to know what format options are available for 16:9 resolution broadcasts, such as letterbox, zoom, centercut etc.

I'm pretty sure the coupon-eligible STB's are required to provide letterbox and center-cut display options. "Center-cut" is called "zoom" or "side crop" on my various STB's.
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post #6 of 1867 Old 01-18-2008, 09:41 PM
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Scroll down a bit on this webpage: http://www.ezdigitaltv.com/Converter_Box_Retailers.html and there are links to various boxes with some specs.

Here's a review for the RCA box. Gives a good explanation of how the crop feature works on it: http://www.hdtvexpert.com/pages_b/Zenith_DTT900%20.html

Enjoying crystal clear TV for free.

http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html
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post #7 of 1867 Old 01-18-2008, 11:15 PM
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>When you say a unit does not have S-Video output does that mean that in only has composite?

All CECBs are required to have RF & composite outputs. If I put Yes under S-video, it means that when I looked at the web page, it either had a photo showing a S-video connector or text stating that it had S-video. If it says no it means that the photo/text did not show S-video.

>AFAIK tuner generations are vendor dependent the 5th generation tuner design from one vendor does not mean that it is any better then the 4th generation tuner designed by another vendor who started designing tuners a couple of years later.

All I'm concerned about is whether a converter has a tuner that is equal or superior to a LG 5th generation tuner, particularly in regards to multipath rejection. I would think that anyone wanting to do an objective independent test would want to know the same thing.
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post #8 of 1867 Old 01-18-2008, 11:42 PM
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CECB speadsheet as of 01/19/08
Updated speadsheet has links to sources http://octopus.freeyellow.com/CECB_list_wip.xls
Screenshot can be found at: http://octopus.freeyellow.com/CECB_Spread.jpg

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post #9 of 1867 Old 01-19-2008, 07:32 AM
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Thank you for your previous response.

What is the Analog Pass feature?
Is Smart Antenna another term for multipath rejection?
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post #10 of 1867 Old 01-19-2008, 07:44 AM
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No - it really is a "Smart Antenna". As you're doing your initial setup the antenna does various combinations of phasing to determine the best possible reception of the signal in terms of directionality. Then, as you tune to each channel, it remembers which setting provided optimum reception.

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

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post #11 of 1867 Old 01-19-2008, 08:31 AM
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>What is the Analog Pass feature?

On most converter boxes the only output available on RF is the NTSC converter output. An "Analog Pass" feature lets you switch the box so the original antenna feed is passed through to box's RF out connector. This is important to people who listen to low power and translator stations that will still be transmitting analog NTSC after 2/17/09.

>Is Smart Antenna another term for multipath rejection?

Sort of. "Smart Antenna" is an additional (EIA/CEA-909) connector on the box that connects back to the TV antenna and tells it informaiton about what channel it is tuned to. The smart antenna adjusts itself for the best reception of that channel.

See http://www.dxantenna.co.jp/english/p...na/dta5000.pdf
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post #12 of 1867 Old 01-19-2008, 09:41 AM
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Thank you,
I think I got it if you have a Smart Antenna and support for it you would not need to also have a tuner that has multipath rejection functionality.
Is it then also correct to say that if your signal strength is strong enough and your signals are from the same general location then a multipath tuner would be a less expensive solution then a Smart Antenna?
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post #13 of 1867 Old 01-19-2008, 09:46 AM
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That's hard to say. I see the Smart antenna as being marketed for those folks who have no clue where their stations are and just need a quick solution with minimal brainpower to get good reception. Or maybe for those who have stations coming from 2 or more different directions - you wouldn't need a rotator if you had one of these.

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
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post #14 of 1867 Old 01-19-2008, 09:51 AM
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Is a QAM receiver an allowed feature on these boxes?

Ed
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post #15 of 1867 Old 01-19-2008, 10:49 AM
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No word officially one way or the other. Some of the conversion boxes will have them, some won't. Those that do will NOT have any capablity for encrypted QAM - no cablecard capability allowed.

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

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post #16 of 1867 Old 01-19-2008, 11:35 AM
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>I think I got it if you have a Smart Antenna and support for it you would not need to also have a tuner that has multipath rejection functionality.
Is it then also correct to say that if your signal strength is strong enough and your signals are from the same general location then a multipath tuner would be a less expensive solution then a Smart Antenna?

If you have multipath problem, step one is to get a converter that's good at handling multipath. While I imagine a smart antenna would improve most multipath problems, they are not very common, probably wouldn't be cheap, and like the last guy said, probably more of a solution for people dealing with transmitters that are in different directions.

In my particular case, I'm 4-5 miles from an antenna farm. While they are all close to the same direction, it's difficult to find one rabbit ear position that gives a good analog signal on all channels. I figure that good multipath rejection will make the antenna positioning less critical. Worst case is I'll have to pay $20 for a LG box as opposed to $0 for an Echostar.

I'm looking for:
First: Good multipath capability
Second: Remote that works nice
Third: S-video out

If smart antennas were cheap and available, it would be a good back up in case a good tuner wasn't enough. I wish the LG/Zenith box had s-video out..... Hopefully there are other brands with tuners that are as good as or better than the Zenith.

>Is a QAM receiver an allowed feature on these boxes? Ed

It seems inconsistent with the government specs, but the Digital STREAM D2A1D10 is supposed to include a QAM tuner. See http://www.ezdigitaltv.com/Digital_STREAM_D2A1D10.html

You can find the government rules at: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/dtvcoupon/DTVmanufacturers.pdf
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post #17 of 1867 Old 01-19-2008, 12:21 PM
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SMPowell-Thanks for the links. On the second one, I saw no rule specifically forbidding a QAM tuner. Also does anyone know if any of the converter boxes will have MTS stereo available via there RF modulator? Come to think of it, do any DVDR's, cable boxes etc. provide MTS over ch3 or ch4? I've never seen one personally.
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post #18 of 1867 Old 01-19-2008, 12:32 PM
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The only channel 3/4 modulator that I've ever seen that has stereo were sold at Walmart as DVD accessories for your old TV that only had RF input. I know I have seen UHF modulators that were both in stereo and DVD compatible, but both of these type of devices were way out of the price league of the intended coupon box market.

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

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post #19 of 1867 Old 01-19-2008, 12:37 PM
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Thanks for the info. So would it be same to assume that the Stereo RF 3/4 modulator at Walmart actually outputted MTS stereo, which would be receivable on my MTS TV?
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post #20 of 1867 Old 01-19-2008, 01:27 PM
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>Thanks for the links. On the second one, I saw no rule specifically forbidding a QAM tuner.

On page 8, first entry under "Disqualifying Feature" it says:
"Any device or capability which provides for more than simply converting a digital over-the-air television signal (ATSC) for display on an analog television (NTSC),.....".
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post #21 of 1867 Old 01-19-2008, 02:40 PM
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If QAM is not allowed in a coupon box, they should either remove the D2A1D10 from the list or edit the page on their site which states this feature. In my opinion, people will certainly complain if they order the D2A1D10 based on the specs listed on the webpage and then later find that a feature missing.
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post #22 of 1867 Old 01-20-2008, 07:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smpowell View Post

>Thanks for the links. On the second one, I saw no rule specifically forbidding a QAM tuner.

On page 8, first entry under "Disqualifying Feature" it says:
"Any device or capability which provides for more than simply converting a digital over-the-air television signal (ATSC) for display on an analog television (NTSC),.....".

While that PDF is a convenient summary, I believe the official ruling is here:
http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/frn...nalRule_2e.htm
I'm a little skeptical that the appendices can be more restrictive than what's in the final ruling.
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post #23 of 1867 Old 01-20-2008, 08:44 PM
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>While that PDF is a convenient summary, I believe the official ruling is here:
http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/frn...nalRule_2e.htm
I'm a little skeptical that the appendices can be more restrictive than what's in the final ruling.

Except the technical appendices are adopted in section II paragraph 39.
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post #24 of 1867 Old 01-21-2008, 04:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smpowell View Post

Except the technical appendices are adopted in section II paragraph 39.

Well, that's what I get for going from memory. I was researching this a few weeks ago and it seems to me more than one of the approved boxes do QAM though. I don't see this as much different than how NTSC tuners pick up at least some analog cable channels. If they aren't careful they could spec things to the point where it costs more to disable features in the box design than provide them.
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post #25 of 1867 Old 01-23-2008, 08:32 AM
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I wonder what kind of chip the Channel Master 7000 uses and if the Government will approve this box? It has S-Video output, too!

http://www.pctinternational.com/chan...2A_200801b.pdf
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post #26 of 1867 Old 01-23-2008, 10:06 AM
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Antenna NTSC and cable NTSC signals are to the same standard.
Digital ATSC and Digital QAM are too different standards.
Also it makes total sense to me that the goverment would not issue discount coupons paid for by us tax payers to subsidize a users cable service since the purpose of the subsidiy is only to assist the user who currently uses OTA analog service which is going away
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post #27 of 1867 Old 01-23-2008, 10:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smpowell View Post

CECB speadsheet as of 01/19/08
Updated speadsheet has links to sources http://octopus.freeyellow.com/CECB_list_wip.xls
Screenshot can be found at: http://octopus.freeyellow.com/CECB_Spread.jpg

The Tivax does not list S-Video as one of it's features. However, it looks like it may have upgradeable firmware.

Here's a list of specs I copied from a translated Chinese page, found when I googled "Tivax STB-9". Also found was a picture of the box it will come in, which indicates it's eligibility for the government coupon program.

Roduct Name
ATSC Converter Box Receiver ATSC Converter Box Receiver

Power Supply Power Supply
Input Voltage: 100 - 240V 50/60Hz Input Voltage: 100 - 240V 50/60Hz
Consumption: Maximum <8W,Standby <1W. Consumption: Maximum <8W, Standby <1W.

Decoder
Video Format: Standard definition CVBS. Video Format: Standard definition CVBS.
Audio Format: Dolby Digital audio Audio Format: Dolby Digital audio

RF Signal Input/Output RF Signal Input / Output
ATSC Antenna/Cable RF In: F-Connector ATSC Antenna / Cable RF In: F-Connector
NTSC Ch3/4 RF out: F-Connector NTSC Ch3 / 4 RF out: F-Connector
Antenna Impedance: 75 Ohms Antenna Impedance: 75 Ohms
Channels: VHF 2 -13 , UHF 14 - 69 Channels: 2 -13 VHF, UHF 14 - 69
Smart Antenna interface Smart Antenna interface

Video Outputs Video Outputs
Composite Video Output for standard analog sets: RCA Connector Composite Video Output for standard analog sets: RCA Connector

Audio Outputs Audio Outputs
Analog Audio Outputs (L/R): RCA Connectors Analog Audio Outputs (L / R): RCA Connectors

Service
Software upgrade through RS-232 port: 9 pin D-Sub type Software upgrade through RS-232 port: 9 pin D-Sub type
The professional technician can connect the ATSC converter box RS-232 port with the PC serial port and run a special program at the PC to software upgrade the unit to repair problems and make necessary updates. The professional technician can connect the ATSC converter box RS-232 port with the PC serial port and run a special program at the PC to software upgrade the unit to repair problems and make necessary updates.

Remote Control format Remote Control format
NEC protocol (38KHz carrier pulse width modulation) NEC protocol (38KHz carrier pulse width modulation)

Enjoying crystal clear TV for free.

http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html
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post #28 of 1867 Old 01-23-2008, 01:11 PM
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>The Tivax does not list S-Video as one of it's features. However, it looks like it may have upgradeable firmware.

>Here's a list of specs I copied from a translated Chinese page, found when I googled "Tivax STB-9".

The S-video info was from
http://www.ezdigitaltv.com/Tivax_STB-T9.html

detail.china.alibaba.com/buyer/offerdetail/117973134.html looks like a more authoritative source, so I'll update the linked spreadsheet.

Thanks for the info

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CECB speadsheet as of 01/19/08
Updated speadsheet has links to sources http://octopus.freeyellow.com/CECB_list_wip.xls
Screenshot can be found at: http://octopus.freeyellow.com/CECB_Spread.jpg

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post #29 of 1867 Old 01-23-2008, 01:13 PM
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I didn't think Dolby Digital audio output was allowed for a CECB ?

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
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post #30 of 1867 Old 01-25-2008, 08:47 AM
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smpowell, Thanks for the great CECB spreadsheet. I'm new to all this, but I'm learning. Your sheet and the discussions will help me make a decision.
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