Responses in BOLD below
(I'm tired right now so excuse me if I do not address each question in detail, leave something out...)
ImagineAll;16183520]I live in West Los Angeles, California, close to Santa Monica. I've spent days trying to educate myself from member postings on many TV converter general and brand name threads. I've got two extra coupons from a friend, and I'm ready to buy the appropriate converter(s). Now I need your considered advice on proper setup for my needs, and best converters for that.
CURRENT SETUP: A 36" Sony FD Trinitron WEGA (9 year old TV set: sharp and beautiful video with good audio). A Toshiba HDMI DVD Player/VCR Combo(4 years old: plays DVDs and VHS well). A Panasonic VCR (about 10 years old with VCRplus Gold which was never set up). Would like to keep them all, as long as they work well. I have a good rooftop antenna (about 30 feet high from ground), properly positioned.
4 months ago I got a Zenith DTT901 Converter (has analog pass-through), hooked it up and it has given me beautiful broadcasts on 22 channels, which become 65 stations with the sub-channels. I watch about half of those stations (not interested in Korean, Armenian, Mandarin, shopping or Spanish soap operas), so I'm fully covered. I do a lot of analog taping (use Channel 3 on the TV set), quite often watching one show, while taping two others. By using 8 hour tapes (on SLP) I can tape 16 hours while I'm away from home for 2-3 weeks.
The Antenna cable goes to the Zenith converter "From Antenna" socket. The cable from the Zenith RF Out connects to a Splitter. One splitter cable connects to one VCR, the other to the other VCR. I use an A/B Connector with 3 cables going to the VCRs and the TV, in order to tape each VCR independently (obviously only when in Analog mode).
I have never had any problems taping those VCRs, and want to continue doing so when we switch to all-digital on June 12. However, a) my Zenith converter won't program weeks in advance, so I need one that does; and b) since I will need to program through a converter (not the VCRs anymore, if I understand correctly), then the current setup with the splitter and the A/B switch won't work (again, if I understand correctly). Therefore, please help me first understand what kind of set-up I need:
1) To watch one show and tape two more to the two VCRs - do I need 3 converters: one to watch and two to tape at the same time? If so, how do I hook them up: one to each VCR with a triple splitter and one to the TV? Someone mentioned using Composite cables to get better reception - does that help? How? What's the set-up then?To paint a picture, you need (1) converter for each channel you are wanting to record /view.
To simplify think of the CECB tuner boxes as a "replacement tuner" for your TV, VCR, etc
On the input to saying having 3 CECB's you use a splitter /amplifier as needed - Note that these digital units can get too strong a signal which messes them up... so keep that in mind...
On the composite cables- Yes you will get a better picture ... On the hook-up instead of using the RF input of the TV, VCR, etc you use composite cables.
Hook-up quality in order of WORST to BEST-
(Note: Anything beyond S-Video NOT being available on CECB tuners..
CECB units with S-Video
APEX DT502 (BestBuy)
ChannelMaster CM-7000 (Online vendors).
RF= Video and Audio on same cable (Yuk)
Composite = Video and Audio on separate cables
S-Video= Better yet, Video, Audio seperate and more bandwidth
Component = R, G, B (Video), each color getting a separate cable- with Audio of course getting separate cables as well
DVI= Digital Video, Audio on separate cables
HDMI= Digital Video, and Audio carried on same cable- Downside is the HDCP (Copy-protection) El-crap-ola which should die, die, die
2) Is there a way to use only two converters that program the VCRs (I'll disconnect the Zenith) and which allow me to watch also? How?Again think of each CECB as a replacement tuner - For each channel you are wanting to record you will need a tuner.
3) Whether I need two or three converters for my ideal set-up, from all the postings I've read it seems that my best bets for Electronic Program Guide programming VCRs (assuming they can be properly adjusted and programmed) are the Dish DTVPal Plus, and the Zinwell ZAT-950A, to take advantage of the latest advanced tuners, for Picture Quality and Sensitivity.DTVPal, DTVPal Plus /TR-40CRA series units
Has the Best Electronic Program Guide-
Unit is sensitive to channels broadcasting the proper time stamp.
There is NO way to manual set the time. (LOL!!!)
There are only 5-timer slots
Lord help you if you order thru Dish and you get a defective unit... I just picked up (3) DTVPal Plus units at K-Mart @$59 this week..
(Sears should have them also)
Really like the DTVPal, this coming from someone who has several of the below:
Zenith DTT901 - Now and then EPG, No timers
APEX- DT502 (S-Video out- Half -way decent guide but it is light years behind the DTVPal Guide in functionality.)
Zinewell 970A, and 950A's Now and then EPG - 8 timer slots
The Zinewell ZAT-950A /970A
Has manual time set
Has 8-timer slots
Pros: Guide is a Now and Next type- showing only what is on Now and Next
Zinewell and DTVPal both have "plastic-housings", and external power bricks, (Wal-Wart types)... I prefer a METAL CASING, and internal PS as in the Zenith /APEX..
Questions: Have I missed any other converters for my needs? Do you know of any others coming soon on the market that suggest waiting a bit?If you are wanting TIMERS, the only option AFAIK is the Zinewell, and DTVPal units
The Dish seems to disconnect the timing occasionally, thus taping a program I don't want to tape; and I'm not sure the "auto shutdown" feature can be turned off.Auto shut down on the DTVPal series units CAN be turned OFf, but the unit will NOT go into "Maintenance Mode" to do a Guide Update..
I prefer to buy at a retail store (for easier return of a faulty unit): the Dish is available at Sears, but Albertson's in L.A. only seems to carry the ZAT-970A when in stock (not as good for me as the 950A?).BUY LOCAL- today I swapped out a APEX DT502 that developed a high-pitched squeal when powered off..
DTVPal= K-Mart, Sears, and Maybe RadioShack... K-Mart @$59
ZAT-950A is supposedly a "newer-model" than the 907A, 950A supposedly having a silicon tuner
Could you please summarize what works and does not in whichever model you recommend? I have adapted myself to the 4 remotes I use currently (might investigate a universal one once I'm fully set-up) which keeps my brain neurons fit and healthy, but I'm far from a tech geek, and would prefer simple instructions (visual works also).Universal /Learning Remote is the way to go...
Finally, after reading so many threads at AVS, I just admire the dedication and patience of the members and senior members who take the time to answer questions from us confused members. Especially in these difficult economic times when we try to save our pennies, it feels caring to be helped. Thank you!********
On which units to get:
Your options are basically the DTVPal, for it's Guide... and the Zinewell for it's manual time-set, 8 timer slots instead of 5 of the DTVPal...
PS: As a suggestion to simplify your life from the freedom of VCR tapes, having to program (2) devices (CECB box and VCR). and limited guide data... you may seriously want to consider is a Media-Center PC..
This can be a DESKTOP, or LAPTOP ....
As a suggestion I'd go with a external tuner- such as the SiliconDust HDHomeRun
... (On sale for about $130.... which btw is a "deal"!)http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815327005http://www.silicondust.com/It's a true HD tuner... the unit having (2) tuners that is viewable thru any PC on your network.
Viewable also on your TV if the PC has outputs that match your TV...
Guide data goes out a FULL 2-weeks...
It's just point can click to arrange what records
No swapping out VCR tapes
Hard drive space is unlimited via upgrades, or external hard drive units..
Fast forward, Freeze, Pause, Replay, Skip commercials... instantly....
On the skipping commercials aspect, a hour show most of the time has 20 minutes of commercials!!!... You can record, use various programs to strip out commercials.....
Oh, one last thing- you could hook up the CECB units to a Media Center PC.
While I have my system apart right now moving stuff around, I have a old PC with
(1) Silicon Dust HDHomeRun Network tuner- (This giving me (2) HD TUNERS as the HDHomeRun has (2) tuners..)
(1) Hauppauge PVR-500 Analogue tuner with dual NSTC tuners, this having (2) inputs that I plan on "maybe" hooking up (2) CECB tuners... This set up giving me (2) HD tuners, and (2) SD tuners... for a total of (4) Channels I can record to at the same time, plus I'm able to Play a previously recorded channel..
With the above said- Next time the HDHomeRun goes on sale and as money permits I may forgo hooking up the CECB units, reason being reliability, and simplification EG programing CECB's to tune to a certain channel at a certain time, and B: I don't have the MCE Blaster Unit as I got the PC at the thrift store and get another HDHomeRun unit.
With the HDHomeRun it's just a matter of point and clicking and it's set up to record series...