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My experience with ZVBox 180 and where do I go fromo here?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I recently bought a ZVBox 180. The thinking was, I had RG-6 coax throughout the house, and while the ZVBox isn't cheap the setup would be very easy.

The result:

Setup was very easy. Less than 15 minutes from out of box to up and running. Maybe a bit longer as I had to change the remote TVs to cable rather than antenna.

Picture quality is good but it falls short when the image changes quickly. If you're looking to distribute HD over existing coax and PQ isn't your highest priority, then the ZVBox may be for you. I really wish this had worked as it was very easy to get up and running.

But for me, I couldn't deal with the loss of definition during fast changing information, so I returned it.

Now I'm trying to figure out where I go from here.

From what I have read, CAT5e/Cat6 may be the best way to go. Or a combination of cat and HDMI (for shorter runs). About 10 years ago when I totally gutted my Victorian home and put it back together, I installed 2 cat 5e and 2 RG-6 to all locations. This was a cable that bundled the CAT5 and coax in one outer sheathing. Most locations have conduit so I could pull new cable if absolutely necessary. I would probably have to pull out the existing cable to do so, as I doubt I could fish with cable already in the conduit.

Ideally I would like to connect 2 DirecTV DVRs and be able to switch between the two at any TV. But connecting to one would be acceptable.

I am not interested in "purchasing" more boxes from DirecTV. It's not the money, it's what I want to achieve. I often rewind or pause live TV,then go to another room and continue watching the delayed "live" TV. I can't do this with additional boxes from my satellite provider.

The down side to HDMI distribution as I understand it:

1. Lowest resolution TV will set output resolution from source. How do I get around this?

2. HDCP, how is this resolved when distributing to multiple TVs?

I'd like to have more than 4 outputs. Someone recommended Monoprice products. They have a 1x8 kit http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2 but not a 2x8 . I can live with 1x8 and manually switch to the other DVR when needed (Superbowl and Acadamy Awards). That's what I do now with my standard definition modulator. They also have a 4 in 4 out kit but I want more than 4 out.

I am a bit surprised at how little information there is in this AVS section.

Looking for suggestions for products that are reliable.

I would appreciate any and all advice. Thanks!
post #2 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by nowandthen View Post

Picture quality is good but it falls short when the image changes quickly. If you're looking to distribute HD over existing coax and PQ isn't your highest priority, then the ZVBox may be for you. I really wish this had worked as it was very easy to get up and running.

But for me, I couldn't deal with the loss of definition during fast changing information, so I returned it.

Thanks for posting the info - we've had very few ZvBox users here so it's good to hear an honest review...

Quote:


About 10 years ago when I totally gutted my Victorian home and put it back together, I installed 2 cat 5e and 2 RG-6 to all locations. This was a cable that bundled the CAT5 and coax in one outer sheathing. Most locations have conduit so I could pull new cable if absolutely necessary.

You did well - shouldn't need more cables...

Quote:


Ideally I would like to connect 2 DirecTV DVRs and be able to switch between the two at any TV. But connecting to one would be acceptable.

I am not interested in "purchasing" more boxes from DirecTV. It's not the money, it's what I want to achieve. I often rewind or pause live TV,then go to another room and continue watching the delayed "live" TV. I can't do this with additional boxes from my satellite provider.

But, but, they show it doing that in the commercials!

Yes, if you're looking to roam, unfortunately, even the whole-house DVR / HMC doesn't seem to help.

Quote:


The down side to HDMI distribution as I understand it:

1. Lowest resolution TV will set output resolution from source. How do I get around this?

You don't. Or you upgrade the 720p sets. The audio side of the equation is much worse - you'll probably get stereo (not 5.1) everywhere.

Quote:


2. HDCP, how is this resolved when distributing to multiple TVs?

Actually not a huge deal if the displays don't have issues with it to begin with, and you're not trying to hook >8 (ish) displays where you might run out of keys in the source device...

Quote:


I am a bit surprised at how little information there is in this AVS section.

There's a ton of threads. Search for "matrix switch" or "HDMI matrix" and you'll find them.

Quote:


Looking for suggestions for products that are reliable.

I recommend, and use, the Aton HDR44 component video matrix switch, which avoids the HDMI problems altogether, and for your setup would work very well. I use local BD players in key areas (for best possible A/V and ease of use - gotta put a disc in), but distribute BD to less-important areas using this system as well... But my primary use is for distributing DirecTV.

Jeff
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Thanks for posting the info - we've had very few ZvBox users here so it's good to hear an honest review...



You did well - shouldn't need more cables...



But, but, they show it doing that in the commercials!

Yes, if you're looking to roam, unfortunately, even the whole-house DVR / HMC doesn't seem to help.



You don't. Or you upgrade the 720p sets. The audio side of the equation is much worse - you'll probably get stereo (not 5.1) everywhere.



Actually not a huge deal if the displays don't have issues with it to begin with, and you're not trying to hook >8 (ish) displays where you might run out of keys in the source device...



There's a ton of threads. Search for "matrix switch" or "HDMI matrix" and you'll find them.



I recommend, and use, the Aton HDR44 component video matrix switch, which avoids the HDMI problems altogether, and for your setup would work very well. I use local BD players in key areas (for best possible A/V and ease of use - gotta put a disc in), but distribute BD to less-important areas using this system as well... But my primary use is for distributing DirecTV.

Jeff

Thanks Jeff!

I have read your review and comments on the Aton. I am serioulsy considering that unit based on your review and report that it is extremely reliable. i do believe there is some truth in "you get what you pay for".

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the 'typical" 2 cat5e/6 vs HDBase-T which only uses one cat cable. I would love to use the single cat system as that would save one cat for future use. Some HDBase-T systems have IR built in, others say it is not possible. Any thoughts/comments?
post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by nowandthen View Post

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the 'typical" 2 cat5e/6 vs HDBase-T which only uses one cat cable.

HDBaseT is overall a much better/newer technology for driving HDMI over cat5 - it's also a single specification that could/should enable interoperability between devices in the future (aka - TV with a built-in HDBaseT receiver).

But practically speaking today, it's probably really just a question of features and capabilities. If the single-cable solution helps you (for retrofits, that is important!), great. But for the current class of matrix solutions (HDBaseT or otherwise), I would judge them on features/price for your application. I wouldn't throw out the non-HDBaseT solutions at this point...

Quote:


Some HDBase-T systems have IR built in, others say it is not possible. Any thoughts/comments?

IMO the IR repeating/routing function of any matrix is a definite must have - I'd say that's much more important than "HDBaseT or not". Much more likely you'd want/need that function than reap any future benefit (to your installation) of buying HDBaseT.

Which brings me back to the component solution (Aton or Audio Authority) - they can be had for cheaper than the HDBaseT or other high quality HDMI solutions. The price of an HDBaseT matrix will likely come down significantly over the next few years - probably a decrease larger than the cost (today) of the component matrix. Meaning - you can probably buy the component matrix today, put the rest of the money in the bank, and a few years from now (or whenever you "need" to upgrade), that money would be more than enough for the future price of an HDBaseT matrix...

The other very real possibility is that the Ethernet networking functionality for throwing video content around the house becomes truly usable - and we don't end up needing matrix switches... (usable here doesn't mean the technical aspect - but the political/copy protection/allowed-to-stream-my-BD-across-my-network issues)

Jeff
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks Jeff. You have been very helpful! I appreciate you taking the time to help me.

Todd
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
I may not have CAT5e. The cable i have is marked "IES Technologies E111077 multi-lan enhanced verified (UL) cat5 to TIA/EIA 568a 24awg 4utp cmr or mpr c (ul) cmg 98-21". It is a Future Smart cable that bundles 2 RG-6 with two CAT5 (e?). Google turned up nothing. I think98-21 is probably a date code. Did Cat5e exist in 1998?

I would hate to have to pull is out but I can as most of the house has cabling in conduit.
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by nowandthen View Post

Thanks Jeff!

I have read your review and comments on the Aton. I am serioulsy considering that unit based on your review and report that it is extremely reliable. i do believe there is some truth in "you get what you pay for".

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the 'typical" 2 cat5e/6 vs HDBase-T which only uses one cat cable. I would love to use the single cat system as that would save one cat for future use. Some HDBase-T systems have IR built in, others say it is not possible. Any thoughts/comments?

If HDMI resolution and capabilities (1080p, 3D, uncompressed audio, etc) are what you're after than an HDMI matrix is indeed the best option. A couple of options might work for you depending on your priorities.

Both of these are units that I've installed in systems with good success but have very different functions.

the Atlona AT-HD-V216 (I can't attach links since I'm a new member) is not actually a full switch but instead a 2 input switch with a 16 output amplified distribution splitter built in and sounds like it might offer a solution for your more immediate functionality needs with additional zones of expansion.

On the other hand they also have fully matrixed solutions available (any iput to any output including mirroring sources) which allows for more robust functionality. The AT-PROHD44M-SR is just one option they have that includes the convenience of matched balun extenders. these should work in almost any residential application and can run distances of up to 130'.

Full disclosure; I don't work for Atlona but they are a vendor I work with and have consistently reliable success with. Good luck on your decision.
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by SWAgent View Post

If HDMI resolution and capabilities (1080p, 3D, uncompressed audio, etc) are what you're after than an HDMI matrix is indeed the best option. A couple of options might work for you depending on your priorities.

If those features are what's important, then an HDMI matrix is probably NOT the right answer, at least for most/typical installations. Because of the common-denominator requirements, if *everything* in the matrix chain isn't 3-D, you lose 3-D altogether. Same for uncompressed audio, etc.

Most of us seem to have one or two "main" systems (theater, family room in my case), and several (many? ) secondary locations with just a TV or a simple A/V setup. For those setups, dedicate source devices to the "important" rooms, and keep them off the matrix solution.

(and why I can still recommend the use of component matrix devices - if the "best" sources have been pulled off for dedicated use, the "lesser" devices won't be crippled by component vs. HDMI - and you avoid the HDMI issues)

Jeff
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks SWAgent

Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

If those features are what's important, then an HDMI matrix is probably NOT the right answer, at least for most/typical installations. Because of the common-denominator requirements, if *everything* in the matrix chain isn't 3-D, you lose 3-D altogether. Same for uncompressed audio, etc.

Most of us seem to have one or two "main" systems (theater, family room in my case), and several (many? ) secondary locations with just a TV or a simple A/V setup. For those setups, dedicate source devices to the "important" rooms, and keep them off the matrix solution.

(and why I can still recommend the use of component matrix devices - if the "best" sources have been pulled off for dedicated use, the "lesser" devices won't be crippled by component vs. HDMI - and you avoid the HDMI issues)

Jeff

Jeff describes what I want to do. I want to distribute to "secondary locations" I'm not interested in 3-D. In fact stereo audio is just fine, heck even mono audio at the secondary locations is fine.

I have a main theater which has it's own DVR with surround sound etc. no 3-D, (don't care for 3-D. )

I'm just looking to take an HD output and send it to other TVs, not looking for high end performance except for good PQ.

A 2 in by 8 out matrix would be ideal, or a 4 in 8 out, I can live with a 1 in 8 out splitter and manually connect to the theater DVR on those rare occasions when I want to distribute the Super Bowl etc.

HDBaseT is exciting. I hope if it takes off, bringing prices down.
post #10 of 11
realize I'm too late to the game, but did you try both encoding bit rate settings? We had problems with our ZeeVee boxes breaking up the crawl on our digital signage channels until we were told that Sharp and Sony TV's have a bad time rendering a 37.78 Mbps signal, but do fine when the rate is lowered to 19.4, the "normal" or "low" settings (both are the same)
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by weaselfest View Post

realize I'm too late to the game, but did you try both encoding bit rate settings? We had problems with our ZeeVee boxes breaking up the crawl on our digital signage channels until we were told that Sharp and Sony TV's have a bad time rendering a 37.78 Mbps signal, but do fine when the rate is lowered to 19.4, the "normal" or "low" settings (both are the same)

It's been quite a while since I had the Zee Vee Box. I do remember playing with many of the settings , not usre about bit rate, but if it was readily accessible i probably did as i tried everything i could to make it work.I really wanted it to work! I have Samsung TVs. When I got my RMA they made no effort to try and solve my issue so I assumed it was par for the course.
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