I received my Channel Master CM-7000 box from www.freedtvshop.com
on Tuesday and these are my first impressions. (They are in stock there now BTW)
The box feels solid and is of metal construction which is nice. I am not crazy about the color, as I would prefer black to match the rest of my equipment. Remote is ok, but as you can see on the users manual
the remote is a bit strange as it has "unused" buttons for some reason. I don't care too much how the remote looks or feels because I was always planning on using my Yamaha receiver's universal remote. This worked very well due to the fact the CM-7000 uses Pioneer Cable box codes. Granted I can't access all the features of the CM-7000 with my universal remote (it is not a learning remote) such as the on screen guide, setup menus etc. But typically I know what I am going to watch and am so I am not too concerned about it. If I do want the guide I can always just pickup the CM-7000 remote.
I have very good analog reception (large antenna in the attic and signal coming from only 15 miles away) so it was no surprise that nearly all of my stations were at 100% signal strength. I am not the one to ask about reception as I am sure any box would work with my setup. It does not have analog pass through but I don't watch any low powered stations anyways so it was not a concern for me
I did notice there was a difference in quality between even my best analog station and the digital signal through the Composite connection on my 32" tv. Not earth shattering but defiantly noticeable. Between the Composite and S-video connection again there was a (bit more subtle) difference in quality (S-video obviously being better). As a test I asked my wife if she noticed a difference between the two (not telling her which was which) and she noticed the difference immediately (but then again she is a photographer and has a good eye for these things!)
Overall I am happy with the CM-7000. It is probably the most expensive box out there right now, but it is also the only one currently available with S-video. I think this is this is the best box currently on the market for me. (Otherwise why would I have bought it