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Deciding which converter box to get - Page 2

post #31 of 82
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wws View Post

I like it well enough that I bought a second one. The wife and kids have no problems operating it, so that is good too.

I do have to be pretty careful with aiming my antenna because of the 'hills' and trees near my house. I use a Winegard 7695 antenna and a Winegard HDP-269 preamp up on the roof, but there is a splitter and a lot of RG-6 between there and the two TVs. The main problems I have are KGO (which is marginal at best, and will hopefully improve once they move back to the top of Sutro) and KNTV (an occasional catch.) I think using a distribution amp, rather than a splitter would help me a bit too.

Do you think KGO and KNTV will move back to Sutro? Maybe that's why it's hard for me to get those two channels. The rest are fine for me.
post #32 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by selw0nk View Post

Do you think KGO and KNTV will move back to Sutro? Maybe that's why it's hard for me to get those two channels. The rest are fine for me.

KGO is at Sutro. It is just that they moved down the tower to their backup antenna because everything is getting replaced up on top. Their backup antenna is several hundred feet below the others. (The other Sutro DTVs are using a temporary system which is just under the top platform.) They say all the Sutro work will be done by the end of october, and hopefully we will be rewarded with a much better signal before then.

KNTV is on Mt San Bruno and is a whole different kettle of fish.... I am not sure what I am going to do about them.

Also note that both KGO and KNTV are, since june 12th, the only major locals which transmit on VHF - RF channels 7 and 12 respectively. So beware of UHF-only antennas.
post #33 of 82
Is there any better converters out there? I need a digital tuner for my projector. We have cable but i want somthing with Svideo, componet or HDMI outputs to run into my projector.

I can use air or run cable into it but i dont want to have to pay an extra $5. a month for another cable box when i wont be watching tv on the projector all that much. Just football games now and then.
post #34 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by BowerR64 View Post

Is there any better converters out there? I need a digital tuner for my projector. We have cable but i want somthing with Svideo, componet or HDMI outputs to run into my projector.

I can use air or run cable into it but i dont want to have to pay an extra $5. a month for another cable box when i wont be watching tv on the projector all that much. Just football games now and then.

If you have an HD projector, you don't want a CECB converter box. You want an HD box: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=179095

The Centronics is the least expensive one available that does both over-the-air and cable clear QAM, at $85. It was out of stock, but should be shipping again in the next week or so.
post #35 of 82
Has anyone tried the Winegard box?
Any opinions on the best DC box?
I need at least one in dc.


I have the CM-7000 as a primary box, Zinwell for timer use and Palplus for the program guide.
I need one or two more that won't conflict with the remote codes of the others.
Too bad none seem to have multiple remote codes like my vcrs.

What do you think are the next choices here?

Is the Apex the best choice due to the S-video?


By the way, the Palplus and the Channelmaster will run on a very poor 70 volt supply.
post #36 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by THX-1138 View Post

Has anyone tried the Winegard box?
Any opinions on the best DC box?
I need at least one in dc.


I have the CM-7000 as a primary box, Zinwell for timer use and Palplus for the program guide.
I need one or two more that won't conflict with the remote codes of the others.
Too bad none seem to have multiple remote codes like my vcrs.

What do you think are the next choices here?

Is the Apex the best choice due to the S-video?


By the way, the Palplus and the Channelmaster will run on a very poor 70 volt supply.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1029256
post #37 of 82
I've read that thread, but beyond eliminating many trashy boxes, I am still left with questions.
I am particularly sensitive to bad audio.
I had some issues using the rf output on the Channelmaster, but either stations fixed these or going to rca did.

There are so many contradictory opinions about some of these boxes.
And I haven't seen a lot about the dc boxes.

There seems to be little consensus on the Apex.
That seems to be the only other decent box with S-video.
I have seen an rca or similar with that feature though.

I am quite surprised by how much I like the Pal Plus.
Too bad it can't be used as a timer.
The time it locks onto here is very wrong.
The station has a good engineering staff, so I am surprised they haven't fixed it yet.
Of course, if it goes toes up I wouldn't be so thrilled.
Biggest issue I've had is it's so light, it flies off the set every time a cable is moved.
post #38 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by THX-1138 View Post

I've read that thread, but beyond eliminating many trashy boxes, I am still left with questions.

Then use the individual topics for the various units.
post #39 of 82
If you have a fixed antenna, The APEX DT502 would be a good choice. Besides having the S-Video connection, it has the "Reminder" feature that would help with multiple station recording. Also, the remote will not interfere with your other units.
post #40 of 82
Thanks.
I'm using bunny ears now, but have to upgrade due to what seems to be multipath issues with pbs.
I am going to look for a 502 today.

The Tivax looks interesting too, except for reported heat issues.

The tv I got recently works better without S-video, but everything else works better with it.
Anything going through the vcr works better with S-video.

Does anyone think the zenith might avoid breakups on pbs?
No matter what I do, I get systematic breaks with them.
All other channels can be adjusted eventually.

I have 4 coupons left.
Availability may be the issue.
post #41 of 82
Firstly, no one can advise you on your PBS reception issue unless you provide a lot more details ... like your TVFool.com map and information on your present antenna. Unless you've already exhausted this path, I would first look to seeing what you can do wrt antenna upgrade/changes before looking to a CECB to solve your reception problem.

Secondly, in my experience the Tivax only runs hot when left on for a long time, ... say, greater than 4 hours at a stretch. This is long time to be staring at a television! Only if you have the particular need of leaving it turned on 24x7 do I think you're vulnerable to product failure due to heat issues. When the Tivax is turned off (placed in standby) it is stone cold.


_Lazza
post #42 of 82
There is certainly no excuse for a product to run too hot.
I might be able to improve cooling, but pretty ridiculous.
I may use it for recording and don't care for shutoffs anyway.

The pbs issue does not appear to be signal strength at all.
Inexplicable to me that I can tune out issues with all other stations.
I have problems with one of a pair coming from the same tower too.
I'll try a better antenna first.

Anyone else getting analog still?
I get two stations broadcasting a docko on dtv- "If you can see this, you're a big loser and forgot to get a box."
One about Jesus and a strong signal on 15 from Mexico, may be on repeaters.
Bit of a shock.
post #43 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by THX-1138 View Post

Has anyone tried the Winegard box?
Any opinions on the best DC box?
I need at least one in dc.

I suspect you're referring to automotive use. I see the Winegard marketed in this respect even though it appears to be 9 V, not 12 V+. They sell a cable that is probably a 9 V automotive voltage regulator (an auto has spike/surge issues and charging system can run up around 14 V). Given that, I don't see why one can't use any box that uses a wallwart (i.e. DC in). Criteria:

> Make sure it uses a DC voltage that you can find an automotive regulator for.
>> Make sure the regulator can handle the power requirement.
>> The lower the voltage, the more you should try and find a switching regulator for efficiency. Linear regulators waste energy in the form of heat (reliability issue too in a hot auto). Switchers are noisier though, I don't know if that's an issue for these boxes; a better quality switcher with big capacitors will be less noisy.

> To keep battery drain low as possible, use a box with low power consumption.

You can also run straight off a battery pack.

What RF channel/frequency is your PBS?
post #44 of 82
I agree with all of that.
I'm not sure how many nice boxes are dc rather than lowered ac.

Winegard told me many people are running their unit off auto voltage.
It is supposed to be tolerant, but better to be careful.
post #45 of 82
The Zinwell ZAT-970, ZAT-970A, and ZAT-950A are all wall-warts. The Sunkey SK-801ATSC is also a wall-wart unit.

NOTE: Some think the APEX DT502 runs hot. Most units that have an internal power supply will produce more heat.
post #46 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by systems2000 View Post

NOTE: Some think the APEX DT502 runs hot. Most units that have an internal power supply will produce more heat.

Good point. Total power consumption is key although we don't know how it's distributed within the boxes. A wall wart does give the benefit of moving heat away from the CECB circuitry (of course we stack these boxes on top of VCRs and such so...).

Wiki lists the 502 a respectable 7 W on, < 1 W off; they list the 250s quite a bit higher when on.

Wiki lists the Zinwells with low numbers worthy of portable use (makes me wonder if the wall wart power is included?).

Wiki lists the Zenith 901/Insignia amazingly low in the on state. No wall wart though but might be worth looking into a cheap power inverter. Quite a drop in power from the previous 900 model.
post #47 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by THX-1138 View Post

I've read that thread, but beyond eliminating many trashy boxes, I am still left with questions.
I am particularly sensitive to bad audio.
I had some issues using the rf output on the Channelmaster, but either stations fixed these or going to rca did.

There are so many contradictory opinions about some of these boxes.
And I haven't seen a lot about the dc boxes.

There seems to be little consensus on the Apex.
That seems to be the only other decent box with S-video.
I have seen an rca or similar with that feature though.

I am quite surprised by how much I like the Pal Plus.
Too bad it can't be used as a timer.
The time it locks onto here is very wrong.
The station has a good engineering staff, so I am surprised they haven't fixed it yet.
Of course, if it goes toes up I wouldn't be so thrilled.
Biggest issue I've had is it's so light, it flies off the set every time a cable is moved.

Suggestion - my PalPlus, too, would fly off whenever I would move my cables as a result of readjusting my antenna. Then it occurred to me that because the box is so sensitive to the remote (or the remote is so powerful directionally) that I could position the converter box out of sight allowing for more give and take on antenna readjustment, which is what I did which has resulted in fewer "spills."
I occassionally have to "look around the corner" to visibly inspect the box to make sure it is off (while I am watching a tape on my VCR which is connected to the box).

The one thing I have to be careful with is that another PP I have nearby, when activated may also trigger the other box. This happened yet, but I am careful to position the remote in a direction away from the other box, but sometimes I forget. I also have positioned the other PP box with the sensor light away from the other box.

I find that I check the tv guide display almost every time I turn on the tv for the first time in the am, afternoon, or evening. It is helpful to know what the program episode about Mr. Ed will be about at 5am and 6:30am so I know whether to tape the show or not!!! PBS seldom has program descriptions on programs you think they would list, like who the guests are on Tavis Smiley, content on "On Canvas." PBS does list program content for a piano teaching course with the songs listed, so it does some things that are helpful.

One time recently, my PP didn't move on from the "downloading program guide," when it turned itself on. The guide always downloads when the tv has not been in use for awhile.

As was said before, it would have been helpful if there were different remote codes so one remote would not interfere with the other box.

I would have preferred a shorter "inactivity" time setting on the PP of less than 4 hours being the shortest setting. I think the Zinwell offers shorter periods. Insignia/Zenith stop at 4 hours as the max time for inactivity.
post #48 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Floydage View Post

Quite a drop in power from the previous 900 model.

That's because the Wiki contributor used what was in the Zenith manual for the 900, which was the EnergyStar maximum (8W/1W), rather than making their own power consumption claim. Zenith put the same specs in their 901 manual.

A Wiki contributor added the energy consumption column based on home tests. Someone else didn't like it and kept deleting it. The column stayed when EnergyStar testing got an even better result for the 901. I'm not sure why they didn't just show the EnergyStar data.

EnergyStar results for powered and standby modes were: 6W/0.7W for the 900, and 3.9W/0.6W for the 901. So there was a difference, but not as much as that Wiki page shows.
post #49 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

I would have preferred a shorter "inactivity" time setting on the PP of less than 4 hours being the shortest setting. I think the Zinwell offers shorter periods. Insignia/Zenith stop at 4 hours as the max time for inactivity.

I learned the hard way to be careful about lowering that timer, I set it too short and cut off a show I was recording mid-way through it.
post #50 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Floydage View Post

I learned the hard way to be careful about lowering that timer, I set it too short and cut off a show I was recording mid-way through it.

If the timer is set to OFF the problem disappears.
post #51 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by TalkingRat View Post

That's because the Wiki contributor used what was in the Zenith manual for the 900, which was the EnergyStar maximum (8W/1W), rather than making their own power consumption claim. Zenith put the same specs in their 901 manual.

A Wiki contributor added the energy consumption column based on home tests. Someone else didn't like it and kept deleting it. The column stayed when EnergyStar testing got an even better result for the 901. I'm not sure why they didn't just show the EnergyStar data.

EnergyStar results for powered and standby modes were: 6W/0.7W for the 900, and 3.9W/0.6W for the 901. So there was a difference, but not as much as that Wiki page shows.

More interesting history - thanks! I thought it might have been an interim tuner change such that Zenith just went with the worst case for the 900 (see the Wiki tuner column).
post #52 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by DigaDo View Post

If the timer is set to OFF the problem disappears.

Good to know. Too bad they weren't designed like a VCR so I don't have to worry about leaving the box on until I return, although I'm not familiar with the few other 'VCR timer' boxes.
post #53 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Floydage View Post

Good point. Total power consumption .......Wiki lists the Zinwells with low numbers worthy of portable use (makes me wonder if the wall wart power is included?)..

yes, its included...it seems to me that it would have to be included for the ENERGY STAR rating to be meaningful....

i recently measured my Zinwell ZAT-970A with a KILL-A-WATT power meter and i found the following >

5 watts when on a 720 or 1080 hd signal

4 watts when on a 480 sd signal or when using any internal menu function

0 watts in OFF mode (about 1 VA (volt-amp) when u switch to VA mode on the KILL-A-WATT power meter, which i think must be very close to zero watts)

the KILL-A-WATT power meter will not display tenths of a watt or VA so i guess it rounds up or down to the nearest whole number....

i dont remember the exact numbers but i also measured my ARTEC T3A and it was very similar...maybe one watt more.....
post #54 of 82
One more day to use my last coupon, so I don't have much choice here given that my local Sears has no Pal Plus boxes on hand.

I am considering the Apex 520, Digital Stream or the ArtecT2 AP-LL (due only to a recent recommendation posted referring to its good reception and 2 day EPG).

I almost always have to adjust my antennas, so from what I read that might cause a problem for the Apex 502 given that it supposedly has to rescan every time the antenna position is changed.
I also read that it drops weak signals more so than some of the other boxes,

My main reason for considering the Apex 502 dealt with its ability to change channels as programmed (once only, I know for each station), and its EPG. The negatives however might make these pluses irrelevant.

I know little of the Digital Stream and wonder if there are any major negatives I should know of (other than its lack, like most CECBs, of not being able to be programmed to change stations for future recording changes).

I don't know if I can use my coupon for the the Artec online given the expiration date of my coupon.

My first choice was the PP. I would only consider a box that has an EPG more informative than the "now and next" of the Insignia/Zenith/Zinwell.
post #55 of 82
Did you check you local K-Mart for the PP? What did you finally purchase?
post #56 of 82
I was rushed for time - I had one day left. I had no idea that almost every store was out of the boxes. I was willing to drive only 45 minutes from my residence so I checked the surrounding stores - Target, K-Mart, Sears - (seven stores in total). NONE of them had a PP, Apex 502, or any boxes whatsover. Only the nearby BestBuy had one type of box - the Apex 250. Oh, yes - Radio Shack had the Digital Stream at $58+. Even the online sites (solid signal, ezdigital, and some of the others listed that the boxes I was interested in as "out of stock," or as "unavailable.")

I was not willing to spend more than a few dollars on what I have learned as less than "top of the tier" CECBs, not to say they aren't decent, just that I'd rather pay a few more dollars for boxes I understand (either through reviews or my own experience) as being better - such as the PP (which I would get for its great EPG and ease of use), Insignia/Zenith, Zinwell (timer), and the Apex 502.

I had written down in my notes of "worthy" CECBs a long time ago one box which seemed like it was one of the better ones, but never followed up on it, UNTIL yesterday, when I came across a website that was offering it for free with a coupon, no shipping charge. What I liked about it was the fact that stations can supposedly be manually added and deleted, that it uses an LG tuner (?), and that its EPG looks decent (8 hours, with program information).
And ... the model looks like one of the more recent ones, an improvement from the earlier versions. So ... with the limitation of time and choice, I thought this option was the best one available (I already have a CM, Zinwell, Insignia and PP - I needed another one with an EPG other than "now/next," and one that allowed for manual station addition and deletion).

The choice was the ArtecT3AP-LL.

There were some negatives on the Digital Stream and the Apex 250 that motivated me to choose the ArtecT3AP-LL. Radio Shack still sells the DS for almost $60 (for an extra $40 for not being able to use a coupon, I would still rather spend those extra dollars on a PP for its EPG than the EPG format on a DS or most other boxes). My first choice was another PP, but all the local Sears in my area were awaiting shipment - my coupon expired yesterday so I was fortunate the site I went to accepted it with hours remaining before expiration. I understand that Solid Signal requires a 3 or 4 day window to use an expiring coupon and even its site listed most boxes as "unavailable" or "out of stock."

I just checked the website of freetvsignal.com and oddly, today, the Artec box is listed as "unavailable." Ditto with the Tivax and Zinwell.

I would have never thought that when I was ready to use my last coupon that it would be so difficult to find any store that carried anything other than the Digital Stream or Apex 250 product. And no, I wouldn't consider the Craig or HD boxes sold in drug stores.

Now I just hope the box gets shipped to me in one piece.

When these CECBs die through use, I assume that if Dish and Zinwell still make their boxes, they will have improvements and I will not mind paying $50-$70. What I hope they offer in the future is an LCD that displays the channel the box is tuned to.
post #57 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

The choice was the ArtecT3AP-LL.

Good choice. I had my fingers crossed all the time I was reading up to that point.

It's supposed to be pretty much the same as the Zenith, but with a better program guide.

IMO, the Zinwell is a bit on the overrated side around here. To me, it doesn't seem much better than what you'd probably get with one of those "drug store" brands, like Craig or Memo-wrecks. In fact, now that I think of it, before its been sold exclusively online more recently, it actually was sold in drug (and grocery) stores itself.

From what I know about the DS, it probably would've been the next best choice of all the ones you mentioned. Many think the Pal is so great - but unless you get one that never exhibits any kind of unpredictable behavior whatsoever - which I don't know if that even exists - no matter what anyone "doesn't" try to tell you - I still can't recommend it over the DS. If you can live with it the way it is, more power to you. I have one myself, but it's far from being my first choice to use. Just the picture quality alone prevents it from being that. All I know is that I would never recommend it to a senior, because it would have them occasionally tearing their hair out (like when it turns off in the middle of when they're watching something, or it freezes, and the only way to "fix" it is to unplug it - which is not something you should expect someone like that to do).

As far as the Apex 250 - there's a reason why that and the Magnavox (and the Pal in some areas, too, though those have dwindled down considerably since the only choice is among those 3 now) are the only boxes still around in the stores. With the 502 - all I'll say is that, other than one person here who recommends it to everyone wholeheartedly, I've only heard mediocre reports on the overall quality of it otherwise on the internet. Yeah, so, it's good a really good guide. That's not enough for me.

The Tivax is supposed to possibly have the best PQ over composite. I wish I would've used my last coupon on an Artec or Tivax, instead of a Zinwell, which I'll probably never even use. (Along with having absolutely no program info, other than the title, which I find hard to live with, it constantly re-programs channels in that I've blocked out. There's a reason why it was *free*. It actually "out-bugs" the DTV Pal.)
post #58 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr100watt View Post

The choice was the ArtecT3AP-LL.

Welcome aboard. I recently got one for the 12V spec for auto use. Kinda the same, a coupon to use up and looking for something on the cheap (free!). Plus the MB over yonder Artec-land sounded approving. It's a decent 'little' box after all; that small size will help for portability, plus it's one of the lowest power usage boxes out there (i.e. chipset Zenith/Insignia). BTW I found it will run off of lower voltages (i.e. battery uses), uses switching regulator supply; I plugged my Zinwell 5V wall-wart into it no problem.

I sure would like to find one with the extended EPG (several days +), don't care about other performance for this box as long as it will receive a decent signal. Eyeing the Apex 502 but my Target just has 250s (problematic and not as good from what I've read here - EPG?). Just missed the TR-40s. Pal fits the bill but I don't want to spend that much ($70 box + S&H I think). Am I missing any extended EPG contenders?

It's looking to me like most of these companies don't plan on making any more of these boxes. Look at how many, esp the good ones, have evaporated. Try and find a Zinwell.
post #59 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

IMO, the Zinwell is a bit on the overrated side around here. To me, it doesn't seem much better than what you'd probably get with one of those "drug store" brands, like Craig or Memo-wrecks. In fact, now that I think of it, before its been sold exclusively online more recently, it actually was sold in drug (and grocery) stores itself.

No way. You must have gotten a lemon. I really like the ones I've got, especially for the timer which I haven't had any issues with. PQ on composite and reception is equivalent to my CM. Now/Next does indeed suck but I mostly use the CM for EPG info (I can understand your ranking though if that's a priority and all you have to use). That reprogram bug IS nutty but doesn't interfere with me too much, seems to be more prevalent on certain channels and esp certain subs; one thing I learned to do was to use Skip rather than Delete on the problem ones - the skip holds. I do believe there were some lemons as I've got one that is a little flaky on the antenna port, the synthesizer loses lock on some load impedances (Sanyo can tuner version).

Yeah I was worried when I did my research on them and found they sold in Albertsons.
post #60 of 82
Good to know that at least two people (at least on this thread) approve of what seemed to be the most logical choice I had (other than buying the DS and hoping that its so-called negatives/deficiencies weren't as problematic as some board members have described).

Perhaps one reason why the Artec was completely out of my awareness (other than last year when I wrote down a list of available CECBs including their pros and cons) is that the thread devoted to this make had such few posts. I got a sense of which boxes to look for by the number of posts commenting on the box - that told me that others knew which boxes were the ones to get, such as the CM, Zenith, and Pal Plus (along with a few others). I concluded that the fewer the posts per a make, the less desirable that product was.

But when I quickly perused the Artec board and got a sense of the pros and cons, I realized that its strengths were what really mattered to me - decent reception, a better than average EPG (not as extended as that of the PP, DS, or Apex, but acceptable), control buttons on the box, small footprint, a strength indicator (a simple one, but at least some something, and with an audible sound I think), and most important, the ability to have stations added/deleted manually.

I remember when I tried to setup the CM just prior to the final conversion to digital and I was unable to manually punch in a desired station that hadn't already been scanned in. I would not want to repeat that inconvenience. With the other boxes I have, I can simply enter in a station as desired. What's nice about the Insignia and PP (maybe the Zinwell does this, too), is that when a new subchannel becomes available, those boxes AUTOMATICALLY add that channel in. My PP notified me the other day of "new program added" or something like that when I turned on the box. I thought, "what? I didn't add anything." To my surprise, one of the PBS stations added a fourth subchannel and the PP not only picked it up, but notified me of the addition and automatically added it to its program guide listing.

With the Channel Master, in order to add a new station, a re-scanning is required.

On comments regarding the occassional problems with the PP ... the main problems I have had with it involve the box either not turning on (has happened three times on two different boxes) or not turning itself off. I simply pull the plug out from the outlet, wait a short time, plug it back in and the box is back in operation. The other problem happened twice, involving upon event turn on time not getting past the program downloading guide process. I have never had the box turn off or freezer while I am using it to watch a program.

A few times, my Zinwell 950 has done some unexplainable changes with my favorites grouping. I haven't used this in awhile so I can't recall exactly what the problem was, but it was a problem unique to the Zinwell format. Yes, the abbreviated tv description on the Zinwell is not as good as that on the Insignia or the PP. I think I read that the Artec provides a decent program description.

Even my Insignia occassionally will display a station number that doesn't exist. I simply choose a different station number, go up and down a few times and the "erroneous" number disappears.

As has been noted before, the advantage with the Apex 502 is that if the box is kept on, you can select a station from the program listing guide to "change to" at a desired time (once). I'd rather have the box be turned off to begin with and only turn back on as desired (and then turn off again so as to avoid any "burnouts"). Both the Zinwell and PP function in this way. If I am away for a length of time, I wouldn't want my box turned on until whenever I get back.

If a person already has other CECBs and is looking for another box with a very helpful EPG AND IS WILLING to cope with occassional power on/off problems, I strongly recommend the Pal Plus. It is worth the extra dollars for the convenience of being able to view upcoming programs from multiple stations at a glance as well as to program them within five seconds from that guide. No other box I have comes close to the ease with which that is done.

I saw a You Tube explanation of the Digital Stream product and its program listing looks decent and better than average with its ability to go out in time (I think it is 12 hours) as well as to describe the content of the program. From what I saw of the remote, it looks better than average and easy to use with function dedicated buttons that are color coded. I am not sure if that box or some other required rescanning due to the inability to have stations added manually. Also, one board member commented on the overly large window box that appears upon a station change with no program name listed, without being able to change that format.

At first I despised the way the Zinwell and the PP would always provide a window with status information upon a station change, but then I found that info very helpful. If all I was seeing was a large number alone identifying the station, I might find that undesirable.

When I first plugged in the CM, its station change info bar surprised me due to its tiny size. So, as has been said, no box has all the right features. You learn to live with the pros and cons, and with the diminishing supply left, you choose the box whcih has the most important features for your use - for me, the most important feature was a better than average EPG, and an acceptable level of quality with the other features. I have not used the Artec, but from what I read, its pros just outweighed the pros of the DS - AND I was seriously thinking about getting the DS due to its great looking remote and Radio Shack's reputation for carrying products that are very user friendly (greater than average "tweaking" features on its products). The other interesting feature on the Artec (and one poster commented very negatively on this feature) is its ability to allow the user to "tweak" various aspects of the picture quality.

I wonder if the popularity of various boxes has to do with their availability and presence in stores or from reputation. I think the Zenith and Channel Master's reputation inspired people to buy them quickly at the beginning. I think the Magnavox, RCA, and Apex got bought because of their visibility in stores like Best Buy and Walmart.

I had discounted the Zinwell when I first saw it being sold at Acme (who would buy such a product at a supermarket?) Then I read about its event timer feature and its "improved" tuner, and found myself buying it at the supermarket due to its availability there as well as its lower pricing than online!! (Plus, I have found that most salespeople even at the other stores specializing in electronics knew little about the boxes, so the fact that a supermarket employee was simply the sales agent for the box didn't concern me. I should note that the advantage of buying the Insignia at Best Buy was very purposeful, because one Insignia box I bought developed a bad antenna lead, and they allowed me to exchange it for another Insignia hassle-free.)

Other makes like the Tivax, Artec, and Pal Plus (unless you had seen the PP at Sears) are largely unknown by the public. Interestingly, when I first checked Sears for this product, the salesperson told me that the Magnavox CECB had sold much better than the PP (I think it was at least $10 cheaper.) In other words, most shoppers seemed to be buying on price determination vs. value for their dollar. I can't imagine the number of people who had no idea of how good an EPG display can be, as executed by the Dish engineers on their box.

Then again, for some tv viewers, all they want is a set that allows for reception and the ability to change channels, no interest in "extra tweaking features" or having to "figure out" more complicated functions with operating their tv. (Even I had difficulty figuring out how to enter a "search" for a program using the virtual keyboard for the PP given my never having used a keyboard on a cellphone to text and knowing that repeated pressing of a button sequences through the various letters on a button. I can normally figure out how to work and program recording devices and set up boxes without having to consult a manual, but at times I get stumped, too. I'd guess that most users simply want to press a button or two and watch their tv vs. "tweaking." I got a kick out of the PP's feature of allowing the viewer to "tweak" the appearance of cc.)
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