Review of the Channel Master CM-7000 captioning capabilities:1. The availability of digital closed captioning features:
Yes. The CM offers the following features for customizing digital captions:
Size, Font, Text Color, Text Opacity, Background Color, Background Opacity, Edge. Seven fonts and eight colors are available.2. The availability of a CC button on the remote control:
Yes (marked as Subtitle)3. The usability of the menu activated by the CC button:
The first push of the button shows the current setting at the bottom of the screen. Each push steps through Digital-1 through Digital-6, then through CC1, CC2, Off. It thus takes nine pushes of the Subtitle button to go from Digital-1 to the OFF position, and there is no way to go back one step if you've gone too far.4. The ease of reading the font provided for analog captions decoded through the converter box:
Poor. The box uses its default font and size, which is very narrow. A full line of text spans less than half the width of the screen. You are better off using the TV's analog captions, if available.5. The ease of reading the seven different fonts available for digital captions:
Style options are Default, Font-1,2,3,4, Casual, Cursive, Caps
Font-1,2,Caps are serif fonts
Font-3,4,Casual are sans-serif fonts
Cursive is a script font - difficult to read6. The availability of a "caption preview" when changes are made in the settings for the digital captions:
Yes, and it is a fairly good indication of the actual caption size.7. How large the digital captions are actually capable of becoming (useful for low-vision viewers):
Not large enough. Size options are Default, Small, Standard, Large
The size option changes only the text width. All three sizes are too narrow. Even at the Large setting, a full line of text spans only about half the width of the screen.8. How well the optional translucent background provides a contrast to the characters used in the captioning:
Default contrast is inadequate. Edge effects can be added to improve visibility. For me, the most usable combination is Font-4, Large, Raised or Uniform Edge.9. Whether there are any bugs associated with captioning, such as a failure to detect analog captions if there are no digital captions, jerky movements, cut-off captions, unexpected changes in the background, etc.:
The CM does not switch to analog captions automatically when there are no digital captions. You must manually switch the CM-7000 to CC1 for analog captions, or turn on TV's captions in order to see the analog captions.
The CM sometimes exhibits an issue with displaying certain digital caption programming (the kind that pops up rather than types out word-by-word). Some captions that would normally be aligned along the bottom of the screen appear near the middle of the screen, yet captions aligned to the top of the screen display properly. The alignment problems are not present for analog captions decoded by the CM.10. Whether the remote control has an SAP button, a raised dot on the 5 button, and dots on the Power button (useful for low vision or blind users):
The control has an SAP button (labeled Audio), and the power button is red. There are no raised dots on the remote.11. How well the user manual explains the different digital closed caption settings.
The manual does little more than show a picture of the OSD menu.12. Whether the CECB has crashed and what the circumstances were.
None yet.Overall opinion:
In general, the captions are simply too small - the CM's digital captions (large size and widest font options) are about 2/3 height and 1/2 width of my TV's built-in analog captions.
The CM-7000 is one of the few CECB's with S-Video output. Compared to composite video, the benefit of S-video is the absence of dot-crawl artifacts.
Captions via composite video may have a shimmering or flickering effect, most pronounced when using caption colors other than white. These artifacts are not present when using S-video. However, this added clarity may not make up for the CM-7000's very small caption text size.
The attached photo shows both the CM-7000 digital captions (large size, Font-4, using S-Video) and my TV's built-in analog captions. The CM-7000's digital captions (top) are quite small, but S-video helps make them clear and reasonably usable if you have good vision and/or a large-screen TV. Unfortunately, the CM-7000 has no larger fonts, so these captions can be challenging to read from across a room. My TV's built-in analog captions (bottom) take up a lot of screen space but are very easy to read from a distance.