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What CECB is the best? And worst. Vote here. Updated tally 7/24/10 - Page 16

post #451 of 541
Although I have not used the CM, this sub average dummy thinks highly of the Zenith. Its build quality seems bullet proof. Picture quality? It looks very good. And it is very easy to use with no annoying quirks.

IMHO, the S-video over composite video argument for going with the CM over the Zenith might be a bit overdone depending on the television you use and how you view it. I use my Zenith CECB with a 40" LCD, with the viewer being some 10 feet away (master bedroom). Viewing content over S-video in such a configuration would not show any real difference over composite video. However for giggles and grins I hooked the Zenith to a 32" Vizio plasma and stood on a few feet from it. The picture quality looked weak. I would expect the CM with S-video would have produced more pleasing results.

Having said all this, if I was buying a CECB for the primary television in my house I would spend the money and get the CM. For all other applications, or if money is really tight, I would get the Zenith.


_Lazza
post #452 of 541
Quote:
Originally Posted by PrairieWolf View Post

Seeing the reviews on ChannelMaster, I was kind of leaning toward it. Then I went to their site and 2 reviews were posted that absolutely HATE it - hate the remote especially because of dead keys and difficulty of use, but hate the box as well - saying the reception is not good, the signal drops out, it's developing an "ominous hum" and that the display was impossibly tiny to read.

There must be some bad batches out there because the remote on mine (CM7000) works fine. But I have no antenna so I can't comment on its reception.
post #453 of 541
No antenna?

But it's an ATSC receiver - you can't use it without an antenna!

In other words, you're not using the box then, right?

The only thing in that list of complaints I'd give any credibility to is the small font. That's really the only major fault with this box. If you're using it on a TV over 27" or larger, you shouldn't have any problem reading it, though.

As far as "dead keys" on the remote, yeah, there's one or two - but so what if a couple of the keys don't do anything? All the ones you need are there. It may not be the most comfortable remote out there, but it's really not as bad as they're making it sound. The Zenith's can be just as bad for some in it's own way, by being rather tiny. Otherwise, the reception on mine is great, signal's don't drop out, and I've never heard anything resembling a "hum" from it.

One common problem it does have, though, is that the front panel buttons often don't work too well (read the dedicated CM-7000 thread for more details). But if you never use them (like me), then they're never a problem.
post #454 of 541
Quote:
Originally Posted by PrairieWolf View Post

I was wondering if there are any people who don't have such a high opinion of it who post here, who could give the other side of the story. I've mostly read about the Zenith, but I'd heard the CM was the next big thing. I'm no techie so I don't know what to make of this. I'm just an average dummy who needs a converter and has read the posts in this forum and reviews elsewhere, and am more confused than ever.

The lesson here is that your satisfaction may vary.

Your particular signal environment and antenna setup can make a big difference as to which box gives you most reliable reception. Your TV set can affect whether or not the modest picture quality differences among CECBs will matter to you. Your need for closed captioning may mean that one box is more pleasant to use than another.

Your reliance on EPG information and/or need to do time-shifting OTA recording may make another model more useful for you than another.

For some, the size, keypad visibility, and layout of remote A vs. remote B makes a big difference for ease of use.

And on it goes.

And even IF you select one of the better boxes, you may be unlucky and get a unit with problems right out of the box or one that dies a premature death.

My suggestion is that you read the model-specific threads for your top choices. Then, if you can arrange it, see them in action before you burn a coupon for one. Borrow a friend's, or go to their house and try theirs, or take advantage of a vendor that carries more than one of your top choices, and will allow you to exchange one for the other, should you elect to.

Specifically, on the CM-7000: it isn't new, so there is a lot of user experience with it reported elsewhere on this AVSforum. Read through those posts and weigh the pros and cons as they are likely to matter to you.
post #455 of 541
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

No antenna?

But it's an ATSC receiver - you can't use it without an antenna!

In other words, you're not using the box then, right?

If that's addressed to me, that's correct. We have cable and all but one main TV is ATSC. The boxes are only for former-portable () TV's and for when cable goes off the air. This particular box is for an old 46" projo 16:9 without an ATSC tuner, so that's why I needed S-video. Of all the reviews I read, the CM7000 had the fewest of a box with S-video.

I got a Winegard RC-DT09A for the former-portable () TV's because of the easy battery option. It too had the fewest neg reviews.

I looked at dozens of these, and every frickin' one of them has something wrong with it. So all one can do is get the one that has the fewest neg reviews. Luckily in my case they'll rarely be used.


Quote:


The only thing in that list of complaints I'd give any credibility to is the small font. That's really the only major fault with this box. If you're using it on a TV over 27" or larger, you shouldn't have any problem reading it, though.

Yeah I'm sure they all have that problem on the small TV's. It's hard to see anything on a 5" - 12" TV.
post #456 of 541
My vote goes for the ARTEC T3AP pro model. Very pleased with it so far.
post #457 of 541
Thread Starter 
Updated Tally 5/25/09

Best
Zenith 901 / Insignia APT – 47
Channel Master – 25 (note this unit was not available until the Zenith already had 15 ‘best’ votes, and is not as widely available at retail)
Digital Stream - 10
DTVPal Plus- 6
RCA - 4
Apex 502 - 4
Tivax - 3
Coship – 3
Artec – 3
Zinwell -2
Sunkey - 1
Sansonic - 1

Worst
DTVPal - 5
Magnavox - 4
Zenith 900 / Insignia – 3
Apex 250 - 3
Sunkey -2
GE - 2
Digital Stream - 2
Philco - 1
Channel Master -1
Tivax - 1
Access - 1
post #458 of 541
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clint S. View Post

What use is this if no model #'s are given?

Because with a few exceptions, each brand has only one model.

For the latest Update, I've added the model numbers I'm aware of.
post #459 of 541
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clint S. View Post

This particular box is for an old 46" projo 16:9 without an ATSC tuner, so that's why I needed S-video.

?

You have an 'old 46" projo 16:9' that's not HD? I don't remember any 16:9 projectors that weren't HD. It would be a crime not to use an HD STB on an HD capable set.
post #460 of 541
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

?

You have an 'old 46" projo 16:9' that's not HD? I don't remember any 16:9 projectors that weren't HD. It would be a crime not to use an HD STB on an HD capable set.

You didn't read the rest of my post. The converter boxes are only for when cable may go off the air. There were millions of 'pseudo' HDTV's made in the 16:9 format that didn't have an ATSC tuner. http://www.tacp.toshiba.com/televisi...sp?model=46h83
post #461 of 541
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clint S. View Post

You didn't read the rest of my post. The converter boxes are only for when cable may go off the air. There were millions of 'pseudo' HDTV's made in the 16:9 format that didn't have an ATSC tuner.

?

I read all of your post. I'm well aware of the HDTV's made before ATSC tuners were not mandatory. Even as a backup, I would spend the extra $ for an outboard ATSC tuner, as opposed to a CECB as a backup.
post #462 of 541
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

?

I read all of your post. I'm well aware of the HDTV's made before ATSC tuners were not mandatory. Even as a backup, I would spend the extra $ for an outboard ATSC tuner, as opposed to a CECB as a backup.

?

Cable rarely goes off the air here, so the cost for an external ATSC tuner isn't justified.
post #463 of 541
Firstly, thanks Ken H for maintaining this list. I'll cast my vote once I get another CECB to compare against my Zenith.

Although your list does serve as help for those who want to know which CECBs are well received (CM, Zenith) and which aren't (several), the list is obviously skewed because it doesn't take into account the relative sales of the CECB, although you point this out wrt CM and Zenith. Does anyone know which CECBs have been selling the best? My guess in order of sales of the *quality* CECBs are:

Zenith/Insignia
DTVPal (Plus)
Digital Stream
Apex 250/502
Zinwell
Channel Master
Tivax

As for the low end CECB units I should think Magnavox would be the clear winner, courtesy of Walmart, Kmart, and Target.

The CECB market is so fragmented that I would think no one brand has more than 10% market share.


_Lazza
post #464 of 541
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazza View Post

Does anyone know which CECBs have been selling the best?

Not that I'm aware of, but with over 40 different options, and scattered availability at best, I don't think it matters too much.

As already noted, the voting results are not an end all / be all. They are simply a starting point for those looking for guidance.
post #465 of 541
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clint S. View Post

?

Cable rarely goes off the air here, so the cost for an external ATSC tuner isn't justified.

Typical CECB cost after coupon - $20

Low cost Digital TV receiver with HD capability - 3 units available new with list price of $100 or less, with the least expensive unit at $85. Used units available for less.
post #466 of 541
Did anybody notice that some non-receivable DTV signals became receivable during FCC "soft test" on May 21, 2009?

I happened to run a rescan on my HDTV set that day after 10pm (EST) and suddenly found a new viewable channel (WBOC, ~140 miles away from my area). Then I run rescan on Zenith 901, TR40-CRA, and AccessHD1080 boxes. They all found this new channel. Zenith and TR40 even found more new channels, one (WMGM) from ~110 miles away, and some (WABC, WNYE, WWOR, etc.) from ~80 miles away. But since the second day these new channels were all gone.

I am really amazed by this come-and-go of new DTV channels. The WBOC and WMGM are so far away that they are not even in the tvfool list. My antenna is a cheap outdoor omni-directional Phillips MANT940, which is supposed to pick up signals not further than ~60 miles.

I only found out a couple of days later that 5/21 was the DTV soft test date. So I think the test may be the reason of receiving these new channels. If it is the reason, does this give us an indication of what we could expect after June 12? We may find a lot more channels from much further places than tvfool's prediction after analog channels shut off and digital channels go full-power. Then maybe every CECB box would be sensitive enough for your interested local channels.

I couldn't wait for another 18 days.
post #467 of 541
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zchen66 View Post

...does this give us an indication of what we could expect after June 12?

A definite maybe.

One thing is for sure; until analog is permanently gone, and local broadcasters finally start focusing 100% on digital, we really won't know how this will all work out. There are more factors involved than someone not directly involved will know about.
post #468 of 541
I've experienced the same phenomena as you zchen66. After months of being able to pull in 42-43 stations I now find doing scan with my Zenith CECB is pulling in some weird new stuff. Last night I picked up the ABC affiliate from Naples, Florida ... over 100 miles from where I'm at (in Fort Lauderdale). I am also picking up several other new stations from time to time, up to a max of 55 stations. Some of this is probably due to atmospheric conditions (lots of thunderstorms of late). But otherwise I feel broadcasters are definitely doing something in preparation for 12 June. Will it portend what life will be like after the analog shutoff? Dunno.


_Lazza
post #469 of 541
if they're still tallying the votes, my vote goes to the Zenith/Insignia. apex is the absolute worst.
post #470 of 541
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazza View Post

I've experienced the same phenomena as you zchen66. After months of being able to pull in 42-43 stations I now find doing scan with my Zenith CECB is pulling in some weird new stuff. Last night I picked up the ABC affiliate from Naples, Florida ... over 100 miles from where I'm at (in Fort Lauderdale). I am also picking up several other new stations from time to time, up to a max of 55 stations. Some of this is probably due to atmospheric conditions (lots of thunderstorms of late). But otherwise I feel broadcasters are definitely doing something in preparation for 12 June. Will it portend what life will be like after the analog shutoff? Dunno.


_Lazza

I wish it would rain the heck here in sunny LA by 6/12...can't wait for that HD "wormhole" to come by then.
post #471 of 541
Now that I bought the Tivax (STB-T9) I can see if indeed the Zenith is worthy of my vote. I just spent an hour comparing major features, using my Toshiba 40" LCD for display and audio. First let me say both CECBs are of high quality and either one would be a fine purchase.

Out of Box Experience

Both units were packaged nicely and came with RCA and coax cabling. Both units are about the same size and are metallic. Going through the setup procedures is brainless for both CECBs.

However the remote controls are very different. The Tivax remote feels a bit more substantial, has a better lay out, and has some color contrast to help you find the right button. The Zenith remote is very slim, and all black. Both remotes have a good tactile feel. Clearly the Tivax remote is nicer but I don't find the Zenith remote horrible.

Picture Quality / Zoom

Picture quality for both is nearly identical but the Tivax has a slight edge. However one really has to look closely to tell the difference. I also thought the Tivax picture had richer coloration but I suspect tweaking the controls on my Toshiba could fully compensate to make the Zenith identical. And so I feel no one would be disappointed with the picture quality on either CECB.

Now concerning Zoom capabilities, for whatever reason the Tivax produces the desired zoomed picture more easily. With my Zenith I futz with its Zoom control, then the Toshiba Zoom control. Maybe I am doing something wrong but Mister "Dumb User" Lazza likes getting the right picture size without having to think. Tivax delivers.

Tuner Sensitivity

Nearly identical. Both CECBs brought in 52 channels. The Tivax seemed to lock in weaker stations better than the Zenith but only marginally so. Both units have the same styled signal meter but the Tivax also adds a numeric value.

One clear advantage of the Zenith is its speed in doing channel scans. Wow! The Tivax takes at least 3 times longer. And the Zenith has a better designed manual channel add functionality.

Audio

The audio out of the Zenith is louder but the quality on both is equal. The audio on the Tivax is loud enough such that in conjunction with the audio control on the Toshiba I can get enough volume with some room to spare. The Zenith produces a much louder sound at a lower volume setting.

The Tivax has one anomaly wrt audio. When changing channels, right after the picture pops up the audio is at reduced volume for perhaps a second before it recovers to normal. Not a problem, just peculiar.

User Interface

No contest. The Zenith has a much more polished user interface and uses nicer fonts. The Tivax isn't awful, just a bit common.

**********************

Tomorrow I will check out a few more features and report back, as well as casting my vote for the best CECB. However I will not vote either of these units as "worst CECB". Again, both these devices are really very good indeed.


_Lazza
post #472 of 541
Quote:
Originally Posted by dave4783 View Post

apex is the absolute worst.

You need to specify which model APEX you're posting about.
post #473 of 541
Okay, finished by evaluation. First thing is to correct what I wrote yesterday. Upon further viewing the Tivax in fact has a better picture quality than the Zenith. In Consumer Reports they listed Tivax in the top group for picture quality, the Zenith in the middle group. Fair assessment. However on a smaller television, less than 26", I would imagine it would be very hard to see a difference. Oh, and another correction has to do with tuner sensitivity. The Tivax has *no* superiority whatsoever over Zenith. Their performance is virtually identical, which is surprising since they use different tuners.

RF Connectivity

The Tivax performed well went using RF coax port (versus composite a/v ports). The audio was clear and the picture had nice coloration. Picture quality was more like what you see watching a VHS tape or the best analog station, which is the best one can expect. I found the Zenith to be nearly unwatchable when connected via RF coax. Coloration is super-saturated. However the audio is clear.

Guides, CC

For closed captioning both CECBs do the job. The Tivax offers a wealth of customization options (text colors, background colors, borders,...) but I think this is probably of little importance to most folks.

In the area of program guides neither CECB does a stellar job. The Tivax shows detailed program description if available but only for the channel you are viewing; there is no grid-like EPG. The Zenith doesn't show any detailed program description just the name, but I can quickly browse through this info for all channels without having to tune into each channel. Honestly, if program guides are really important to you it is best to look at purchasing some other CECB.


**** RECOMMENDATION ****

If a friend/relative would ask which CECB to get I would suggest the Zenith. Dead easy to use, terrific user interface and it is readily available (Kmart/Sears). Assumption: connectivity via composite a/v cables, which is the case for most folks.

However I am going to decommission my Zenith for daily use and going with the Tivax. Why? Picture quality, nicer remote, nice ZOOM capabilities. My Zenith will serve as a backup, and I will use its fast scan and signal meter to help resolve reception issues with televisions with ASTC tuners.

The main reason I wouldn't suggest the Tivax to a friend/relative is its general lack of availability except online (..I was lucky that a local electronics/appliance store, Brandsmart, carried it and it was on sale). I think most people, obviously not those on avsforum, are somewhat skittish on purchasing electronics online. It is nice to be able to return/exchange stuff hassle-free.

So which of the two is the best? Tivax
post #474 of 541
Glad your review agreed w/mine
post #475 of 541
NAB & Antennas Direct just released a Smart Antenna (S-A) Prototype Development Report:
http://www.nabfastroad.org/
http://www.nabfastroad.org/NAB_Final...ev_Public2.pdf
The Nat'l Assoc of Broadcasters awarded a contract to Antennas Direct to develop a VHF/UHF S-A.
In the process of testing the new S-A, A-D identified several interface control problems
(that may or may not be fixed in existing/future CECB's with Smart Antenna interface).

Also note that NAB/MSTV tasked MSW (Meintel, Sgrignoli & Wallace) to perform
Lab Tests on a number of CECBs to verify that they met NTIA requirements:
http://www.nabfastroad.org/NAB-STV%2...y-report1.html
Also note User Guides for 20 CECBs....and interior photos in the Summary Report.

I'm surprised this report has remained pretty much unknown since Dec 2008.
Each manuf/model is clearly identified so we can see exactly how each performed.
Parameters tested include: Sensitivity, single signal Overload, Analog Pass Thru
insertion loss (for an attached analog TV), Signal Quality Indicator characteristics,
including correlation to bit error rate, SNR and signal levels.
NTIA technical requirements tests included Adjacent/Taboo Channel Interference,
White Noise SNR performance (15.0 dB +/- 0.25 dB), static multipath echo and
ATSC A/74 defined RF Captures of particularly difficult multipath conditions experienced
in earlier field ATSC tests....where there was the MOST difference in performance.

Very little variation in Sensitivity (-86 dBm +/- 1 dB)....or 3 dB better than NTIA requirement.
Only one of the APT models experienced a significant insertion loss (about 3 dB) for
an attached Analog TV....but did NOT experience a similar loss for the DTV signal.
post #476 of 541
Quote:
Originally Posted by holl_ands View Post

The Nat'l Assoc of Broadcasters awarded a contract to Antennas Direct to develop a VHF/UHF S-A. In the process of testing the new S-A, A-D identified several interface control problems (that may or may not be fixed in existing/future CECB's with Smart Antenna interface).

Also note that NAB/MSTV tasked MSW (Meintel, Sgrignoli & Wallace) to perform Lab Tests on a number of CECBs to verify that they met NTIA requirements:
http://www.nabfastroad.org/NAB-STV%2...y-report1.html
Also note User Guides for 20 CECBs....and interior photos in the Summary Report.

I'm surprised this report has remained pretty much unknown since Sep 2008.
Each manuf/model is clearly identified so we can see exactly how each performed. Parameters tested include: Sensitivity, single signal Overload, Analog Pass Thru insertion loss (for an attached analog TV), Signal Quality Indicator characteristics, including correlation to bit error rate, SNR and signal levels. NTIA technical requirements tests included Adjacent/Taboo Channel Interference, White Noise SNR performance (15.0 dB +/- 0.25 dB), static multipath echo and ATSC A/74 defined RF Captures of particularly difficult multipath conditions experienced in earlier field ATSC tests....where there was the MOST difference in performance.

Thanks for the links. I think the smart antenna interface variations are why some people buy SAs and love them, while others say they are worse than rabbit ears. It may depend on which brand CECB they are connected to.

As for that comparison of CECBs, it was a little over my head, but it was nice to finally see a comparison that differentiated between the ability of the box to find weak channels, and the ability to hold the channel w/o breaking up.

Since I'm going to have adjacent channels (9 & 10) locally after June 12, obtaining weak signals isn't my biggest concern.
post #477 of 541
Thanks to a post here telling me where I can get one, I went to Sears to look for a Zenith 901. My local store had about 10 of them! They also had several DTVPAL Plus receivers as well. Well I only needed one for my mother in law, but decided to get one of each just to see how each works. I have OTA HD off of my Dish box, so I do not really need one of these (so I thought).

No contest. The Zenith has a much better receiver and picture. The Zenith was brighter and clearer while the DTVPAL+ was darker, fuzzier, and would get stuck into wide aspect ratios on almost every channel and would not let me change it to fit a 4:3 monitor. The remote button for this did nothing on most channels (set up as 4:3 in settings too). Wide FULL could not be changed. The Zenith had no problem with this at all ad displayed the correct width. The user interface on the Zenith is MUCH better. The DTVPAL+ does have the guide though and that worked very well. The Zenith only lets you see the current program and the next program coming up.

I'm a TV DXer, so the box with the best weak signal reception is going to be my choice as long as everything else is good. Even if I was not a DXer, I would want the best receiver to maintain a good lock in bad signal conditions. This Zenith 901 beats the DTVPAL+ by 2 stations (not counting sub-channels). I chose my indoor attic antenna with no preamp to test with because I get a wide range of weak signals that come in on some receivers and not others. The DTVPAL+ did not pickup two medium to weak stations on the automatic scans. I was able to add them using the manual add (hard to use) feature, but why should I need to do this? Scan after scan this box skipped them every time. There was breakup on one of them. The Zenith locked all every time with no breakup. But there is more good news about the Zenith...Even if the signal is too weak to lock, it shows on the signal meter. Even very weak signals (some I didn't know were out there!). As a DXer or someone trying to optimize an antenna position/installation, this is worth very much. And Zenith makes adding channels easy, but on the fly selection of any channel is possible without having to add them to a list. The DTVPAL+ has a meter that cuts off below the lock point, which is around 60. What good is a meter that shows nothing below 60? So it is either there or not with no indication of signals without a lock. My Dish box is the same and although the DTVPAL+ is a better reciever than my Dish 211k, the meter/lock situation is the same. Zenith lets you see very weak signals on the meter. Lock occurs about half scale. Finally, I have one VHF channel that is right on the edge of lock at times. I watched both boxes while the lock was bouncing in and out. The Zenith was much better with fewer drops and much less pixilation. The DTVPAL+ had huge blocks while the Zenith had no blocks on quick drops to small blocks on extended weak signal conditions.

I returned the DTVPAL+ and got myself another Zenith 901. This is my new DX box! But now I want an OTA HD receiver that is just as good as my Zenith CBCE. Any suggestions?

Phil

PS - I have not tried any other CBCE's so I can't say what else is better, but the Zenith 901 gets a positive vote from me. No faults and good operation!
post #478 of 541
Thread Starter 
Updated Tally 6/12/09

Best
Zenith 901 / Insignia APT – 48
Channel Master – 25 (note this unit was not available until the Zenith already had 15 ‘best’ votes, and is not as widely available at retail)
Digital Stream - 10
DTVPal Plus- 6
RCA - 4
Apex 502 - 4
Tivax - 4
Coship – 3
Artec – 3
Zinwell -2
Sunkey - 1
Sansonic - 1

Worst
DTVPal - 5
Magnavox - 4
Zenith 900 / Insignia – 3
Apex 250 - 4
Sunkey -2
GE - 2
Digital Stream - 2
Philco - 1
Channel Master -1
Tivax - 1
Access - 1
post #479 of 541
Ken,

It's Sansonic, not Samsonic.
post #480 of 541
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by systems2000 View Post

Ken,

It's Sansonic, not Samsonic.

And your point is?

Sorry....

...fixed.
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