The one I bought today was made in Jan. 2013 with a code of BE3.
Post DTV Transition CECB converter boxes availability! - Page 6
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Anyhow I would suggest searching the used markets for HD tuners, I found two for 20 bucks each. The early HD sat receivers have built-in OTA HD tuners that aren't locked out. Maybe some cable tuners too. Dedicated tuners weren't big sellers due to high cost so not a whole lot of those out there. I wish there was a thorough list of all of these somewhere.
It generally sells for even less than the CECBs did in their day, ~$40 shipped.
[first let me point out that DD AC-3 is the same as DD 5.1; the '3' makes it sound like it's 3.1 so sorry if I misled anyone]
They show a DD or DTS input will produce a Dolby Surround Pro Logic signal via the RCA connectors (with a Dolby Surround Pro Logic-capable receiver can produce 3 to 6 speakers of surround effects). I 'think' this is what one of these DD converter boxes can do (i.e. vs. just a stereo output).
They show that the only way to get full DD is to use the six 5.1 channel output RCA connectors (i.e. from a separate panel of RCAs), the digital connections (coax or optical), or the HDMI connector. Same for DTS.
Also, it shows capable of 8 channel PCM via HDMI only. Not that it matters here but it was the last audio connection category in the manual.
Someday when I get my old Kenwood AC-3 AVR set up to my TV system I'll have to try some converter boxes out to test my Pro Logic theory (the AVR indicates whether or not it is receiving stereo, Pro Logic, or DD). Currently the Kenwood is just being used as a fancy FM receiver. My neighbor gave me his used Bose Acoustimass 1500 (5.1) after his Onkyo AVR quit (he went soundbar) so I'm itchin' to hook it all up. He gave me the Onkyo (THX 7.1 and up to 12 speakers) too but it has no audio out amp or pre-amp...
RCA DTA800B1 (note - the current model lacks the Electronic Program Guide and Smart Antenna input found on models made in 2008-2009).
Naxa NT-52 (note - this came on the market post-2009 but has the limited functionality of an "official" CECB)
iView STB3500STB (note - this came on the market post-2009 but resembles a CECB)
KCPI DT504 (note - looks similar to an Apex 250 or 502, includes Smart Antenna input)
Coby DTV102 (note - Coby is now OUT OF BUSINESS, therefore no warranty support)
Magnavox TB100MW9 (note - not sure if model is still being made, might be NOS)
Philco TB100HH9 (same note as Magnavox above)
Apex RBDT502 (note - might be NOS, includes S-Video input)
Of these, the easiest ones to find at retail stores at this time seem to be the RCA and the Naxa. Store personnel have told me there is a steady demand for these SD digital TV converter boxes, which is why they are still readily available.
Most of whats left of the CECBs(RCA for one) are really cheap pieces of plastic IMO. The iView has a metal case and sells for < most CECBs(~$40 shipped from Amazon).
If it were me I'd get the iView 3500. Not only does it have HD outputs(HDMI and Component) it also has composite(no S-video) and RF for older TVs. With a simple USB HDD it can also act as a HD DVR. Oh it also has a decent EPG(program guide) you can program off of if you want. Most of whats left of the CECBs(RCA for one) are really cheap pieces of plastic IMO. The iView has a metal case and sells for < most CECBs(~$40 shipped from Amazon).
If you've used the iView 3500 and it has worked well as an OTA tuner, let me know by PM. The only reason I've held back is that my garage is full of "great buys" which did not turn out to be reliable or satisfactory, and my worry is that if the iView 3500's functionality is as shoddy as some reviewers have claimed, I'd rather not spend two President Jacksons to buy it, only to be disappointed and have yet another piece of gear added to my personal electronic graveyard.
Don't be too scared off by all the negative reviews of the iView or similar Homeworx converter box/DVR. True it's not 100% reliable(like something like the Zenith DTT900) but for the most part after your done playing with it and just sit back and use it, it works quite well. I use mine to record the occasional HD program when I'm already using both tuners on my Tivo HD and for that it works quite well. Most of the issues I had with the iView was using the PSIP guide and pushing buttons too fast, if you have patience you should be OK or like me I never use it anymore and instead use my Tivos guide and only set programs on the iView with START/STOP times(and not through the guide).
I also use the iViews HD component outputs since early on I had a few quirks associated with the iViews HDMI output, I think they may have fixed those issues but I still use component and am very happy with it.
If I had to do it over I may have purchased the Homeworx which may have less issues but I'm also OK with my iView now and consider it one of the best $50 I've spent, I even bought a spare one
I'm wondering if this and the iView are from the same company. BTW do one or both of these actually put out HD? (if so, seems odd they call them converter boxes).
Recently saw a Channel Master CM7000PAL on CL for $75, probably should have scarfed it up. Those sold for over $400.
Speaking of EPG's, turns out one really can pick up the Advanced Program Guide from DirecTV without a subscription (I don't know about DISH). I had read about it here on AVS but had no dish to test it. A friend gave me his old SAT A dish (round, dual LNB) and sure enough it worked hooked up to my HD SAT/OTA receiver (barely used $20 on CL). I experimented and also discovered that I only needed to use the 18 V LNB; this allows me to eliminate/bypass the multi-switch, reduce cabling, and reduce path loss. Can do the same with the higher end dishes (oval, SAT A,B, SAT A,B,C - HD, etc.). Can also put a switch in the coax path to shut the thing off after you've downloaded enough guide info (short-term stuff is pretty fast); the downloaded guide info sticks until the receiver is unplugged.
*Note: I've learned that the 'marketing con game' has worked its way into these consumer reviews by 'loading' them with fake positive reviews. So I've learned to spend more time on analyzing the negative reviews.
Yes both the iView and Homework are made by the same company(although firmware updates are handled by different companies) and the boxes are very similar with the exception the iView has a somewhat useless display(only displays channel order number and not actual channel number) while the Homeworx has no external display. The Homework officially doesn't tune QAM although with a particular firmware it can tune QAM. I'd not really suggest either box for clear QAM as most of the complaints come from cable folk and their rather quirky QAM tuners, OTA is much better.
Both boxes are full HD with HDMI and component outputs as well as digital coax for 5.1 audio(5.1 also comes out HDMI).
Both boxes are truly amazing for the price and with a customer purchased USB HDD they are pretty decent DVRs(single channel without the ability to record an event while watching a stored event) so the DVR side is quite basic(of course single tuner).
For more talk about HD recorders check out this forum where both the iView and Homeworx have their own threads.
This topic was originally posted in September 2009. For the most recent info on CECB availability, please go to the last page of the topic. The reason for this thread is the DISCUSSION OF DEALS, LINKS TO VENDORS WHO ARE STILL STOCKING CONVERTER BOXES. Please post some links to vendors that have units in stock , or are expecting a re-stock. Links to ANY "deals" you may have seen /heard about!!! Here's a list of the decent boxes- Problem being most are no longer mfg'd / no longer are being sold........ .
If anybody here is still looking for Standard Definition Digital OTA Converter boxes, here is what's available currently at Amazon as NEW IN THE BOX - subject to change at any time, and listed here by current Amazon price:
Sunkey SK-903H - $38.95
Naxa NT-50 - $39.99 (per reviews, avoid this model!)
Naxa NT-52 - $39.99 (per the reviews, avoid this model!)
Supersonic SC-55 - $40.00
Sunkey ATB150S - $41.49
Sunkey SK-801SB - $43.51
RCA DTA800B1 - $49.97
Apex DTA250A - $50.00
Magnavox TB100MW9 - $52.98
Apex RBT502 - $71.99 (includes S-Video)
There are some new-old-stock Zenith DTA900 and DTA901 models and their Insignia-brand counterparts at much higher prices. Some of the ones listed above are NOS as well. Obviously, most of us would rather get converter boxes which include HD capability for 1080i and 720p. But if you want to keep watching your old-school RCA Victor New Vista 25" console with a beautiful walnut cabinet in your rec room, or a 25-year-old Sony Trinitron in your guest bedroom, these older OTA converter boxes may be easily connected to your old TV. The newer HD-type boxes sometimes only connect using HDMI or Component connections. I hope this is helpful.
Note: The gotcha is they tend to have older generation ATSC tuners which could be an issue in weaker signal environments. Of course some were better than others.