Originally Posted by mr100watt
What I am concerned with is the font issue you detailed. My largest set(s) are 20 inch, as well as a few small 12 inch portables. The Pal Plus text appearance on the smaller set is subpar, but I am willing to live with it given the access to that wonderful EPG grid. I just hope my eyesight doesn't go before the box malfunctions in trying to read the text on the smaller screen.
Does the font on the CM appear readable on a 20 inch screen? Seems like you have a serious issue with that feature.
From what you say, my brain would get a real workout with the Channel Master remote!
On every set I have tried them on, the Pal Plus is about 6 times easier to read than the CM7000. So, if you find the Pal Plus text hard to read, you will probably not be happy with the CM7000.
I can even read the DTV Pal Plus fonts on a tiny 4 inch LCD portable I own, while that same small screen turns the tiny CM7000 channel guide and CC1 fonts into totally useless squiggly lines.
On a 20 inch set, reading the CM7000 fonts will be a little bit of a crap-shoot. Some sets do a good job with the tiny fonts, some don't [including many smaller sets]. So, you could get lucky - but maybe not . . .
It does help a lot if the set has a 'sharpness' adjustment, but don't assume that setting this higher will make the fonts clearer, because it usually goes the other way (too much sharpness chews up the small text with ringing noise). If you do get a lucky bounce, and your set renders the small CM7000 fonts clearly, then they will be fairly readable on a 20 inch screen, if you are setting reasonably close to the screen (say 5 or 6 feet).
My funny comments about the CM7000 remote aside, I'll post some pics so folks can make up thier own minds . . .
--- Here are the remotes for the CM7000 (left) -- DTV Pal Plus (center) -- and Tivax STB-T8 (right) ---
To my mind, the Tivax is the simplest and most logically laid out. The related guide and info functions are right next to each other and not far from the setup 'menu' button. The only bad thing about the STB-T8 remote is that it's range and acceptance angle is more limited (so you have to point it much more carefully). By way of comparison, the CM7000 and DTV Pal remotes are much less critical about pointing and have much better range.
Compare the simple logical STB-T8 remote on the right with the locations of the buttons on the CM7000 remote on the left. On the CM7000 remote 'Info' is also up at the top of the remote, but is next to the 'option' button (that doesn't do anything!) and the related 'Guide' is all the way down at the far lower right, 'Menu' is back up on top again, but this time over to the left above the Arrow Cluster. These Arrows also work in a slightly strange non-intutive way on the CM7000 remote. Unlike the Tivax and Pal Plus remotes, the arrow keys are NOT used to directly navigate most menu functions. After using 'menu' to get into the menus, you have to use 'menu' to jump left, and 'ok' to progress right, while left and right arrow keys change values. Also the CM7000 remote has a LOT of unused buttons cluttering things up ('Option', 'PageUp', 'PageDown', and 'Text' are completely unused and do nothing whatsoever). If this sound confusing, it is, but you get used to it.
The DTV Pal Plus remote groups things a little better, but has it's own issues. A really choice spot right in the middle was wasted on the almost never used 'sys info' button, while other features like the one line 'browse' banner guide have to be accessed by a shortcut on the arrow keypad. My friend immediately asked, "where is the channel up?" (obviously it's the unlabeled UP and DOWN arrows in the main UP/DOWN/LEFT/RIGHT arrow navigation cluster)
As others have noted, your best option with any of these is to get a good universal remote (though I can't say that I have seen a good IR learning remote for only $12).
When used with a universal remote, the ease of use scores for each box change. The Tivax, that I gave such high marks for ease of use when using its supplied remote, gets a very low score for easy setup for use with a universal remote. This is because the STB-T8 doesn't look like any other device, so until the manufactures of the universal remotes pick up on this and develop a custom 'Tivax' programming setting, you have to rely exclusively on an IR learning type remote. I have such a remote, but it has very limited memory to learn custom codes, so the complete lack of a basic setup that supports the Tivax STB-T8 is a real pain.
With the CM7000, the situation is a little better, because, by default, the CM7000 emulates the remote control codes of a standard pioneer cable box. So, with the CM7000 I was able to simply pick out this standard 'Pioneer Cable Box' setup on my universal remote and the basic features like power, channel selection, and volume worked right away (still had to custom program a few other buttons like 'guide', 'menu', 'wide', 'subtitle').
Of the three CECB boxes I own, the best support for my existing several year old RCA 850 universal remote was with the DTV Pal Plus. With the Pal Plus, I programmed the universal remote to use the standard codes for an 'echostar' satellite box that Dish recommends, and was pleasantly surprised to see that damn near everything worked right out of the gate, including power, channel selection (both up/down and numeric entry), plus menu, guide, info, and even bypass (selected quite logically with the 'line' select key on my remote).