Originally Posted by yesodtiferet
Thanks for your help, I think I've got it figured out. The VCR does not pick up a few channels but I think I just need a stronger antenna (which I've been meaning to buy anyway).
I think you'll discover that the 1st-generation ATSC tuner in the DT100 is not as sensitive as one might hope, and is definitely not as sensitive as later generation ATSC tuners now found in HDTVs and even in ATSC TV Tuner cards (e.g. my TV Wonder 650 PCI from ATI).
So for example, my building has an excellent roof antenna that pulls in almost 20 primary digital channels, which amounts to over 80 total digital channels if you count all of the sub-channels being brodacast (and separately recognizable via PSIP data, using TSReader Lite). These are all visible with my ATI TV card, and also with my Sony XBR960. But many (surprisingly including 2.1 CBS and 28.1 PBS) are not lockable on the DT100. This is surprising, but true.
As it turns out, NBC-DT happens to have one of the very strongest signals in my area, and is received perfectly by the DT100.
One more question: When I turn off the VCR, I can't get any broadcast channels on the TV. Do I have to always have the VCR on?
Unlike all generations of VCR in the past, the DT100 does NOT pass-through its digital ATSC antenna signal (i.e. from ATSC antenna-in to an ATSC antenna-out), nor is there even such a counterpart to its analog NTSC antenna-in/out connectors.
If you notice, there is a "TV/VCR" button either on the remote, but just as with all analog VCRs it only supports analog functions... to allow you to be watching something in analog on an analog-tuner TV while you are recording something in analog on the VCR.
But this is NOT a functionally supported notion in digital mode. Again... your OTA antenna (which provides digital TV signal for the ATSC tuner in the DT100) is to be connected to the ATSC/digital RF coax connector of the DT100. Analog TV is gone.
Bottom line: the HDMI output from the DT100 is only active when the unit is powered on. And then it provides either (a) the channel tuned to by the ATSC tuner in th eDT100, or (b) playback from a DVHS recording. You obviously must have your HDTV input selected to "HDMI input", to see what's coming from the DT100. Now, once you turn off the DT100 you are no longer providing any output from its HDMI source, so you need to do something on your HDTV if you want to continue watching TV... e.g. using its own built-in ATSC tuner to watch digital TV channels that way, but not from the DT100. You'll obviously have to change the input selection on your HDTV to use its own ATSC tuner instead of HDMI input, and that of course requires an ATSC antenna input into the HDTV... just as you've fed the ATSC antenna input of the DT100. An ATSC tuner requires an ATSC antenna input to be connected (no surprise here).
Or do I have to have two antennas--one for the VCR and one attached to the TV?
As has been suggested, just split the single coax and feed one side to the DT100 and the other side to the digital ATSC antenna connector on you HDTV.
This is the classic way of providing two antenna inputs to two devices, from a single antenna coax. Nothing revolutionary here, and works exactly the same way even when we're talking about digital channels instead of analog channels. The splitter simply facilitates two coax output cables from a single coax input cable, thus allowing you to connect both coax output cables to two nearby tuners, each of which needed an antenna input connection.
I'm thinking of just returning this unit and going with Tivo unless I can make it simpler.
A splitter will cost you a few dollars, and will work perfectly to allow both the DT100's ATSC tuner and your HDTV's ATSC tuner to both operate off of your one OTA antenna coax.
This is the only conceptual difference between past generations of VCRs... and only pertains to the ATSC OTA antenna input, which is not passed-through to an ATSC antenna output, unlike the analog connectors on the DT100 which do have both IN/OUT in support of "watch a different channel on TV with its analog tuner while you're recording something else on the VCR using its own analog tuner). And, this analog antenna input/output does work even when the DT100 is powered off. Yes, this is how old analog VCRs used to work. And the DT100 does (or used to) also work this way... but just for analog antenna source which no longer is available. It simply is not available on the digital side.
But a splitter is the perfectly acceptable workaround, if you want to be watching something on HDTV while the DT100 is either powered off or recording something else. This essentially gives you two antennas... one for the DT100 and one for your HDTV. What could be simpler, and cheaper?
Also, Tivo (random-access DVR using hard-drive) vs. DT100 (sequential-access VCR using tape) is certainly not an even comparison feature-wise, nor are they cost-comparable. However both can provide HD programs to your HDTV from OTA antenna
Once you get your DT100 set up with the right cables and HDMI to your HDTV (doesn't sound like you have an A/V receiver), you'll be fine. Just use the input-selector on your HDTV to either watch TV using its ATSC tuner, or to watch an HD recording from your DT100 via HDMI input.
NOTE: the HDMI output of the DT100 is only functional when the VCR is powered on (and either just watching via its ATSC tuner, or playing back a recording from DVHS tape). That's when you're using its built-in ATSC tuner or the VCR's playback mechanism, feeding its HDMI output to your HDTV. If you power the VCR off that's it... you're closed, no more HDMI output. What more would you expect? Again... there is no "antenna pass-through output to your HDTV". I mean with the VCR powered off, how would you even choose a channel for its "sleeping" ATSC tuner to pass through to the HDMI output for viewing on your HDTV?
If you power the VCR off, you're telling the equipment you want it to be sleeping and you're now going to watch TV using your HDTV's tuner. The DT100 is "powered off", isn't it???
Instead, assuming your HDTV has its own built-in ATSC tuner, you split the OTA coax antenna and feed both the DT100 and your HDTV's ATSC antenna inputs. Then if you power the DT100 off, just use your HDTV's tuner (you'll naturally have to select the proper input on your HDTV to use its tuner, rather than displaying from its HDMI input) to watch digital channels directly via your HDTV.
This is not overly complex, nor would a Tivo make it any simpler (in fact it may be more complex, and far more expensive... in my opinion). But if you want a DVR instead of a VCR, that's a different story.