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Samsung SIR-T451 receiver mini-review (from a newbie)

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
Please bare with me as I am a HDTV newbie and may not get the terminology correct. Last Friday I picked up the new 451 receiver from Circuit City for $249.99. I got it mostly for the QAM support. I have broadband from TWC and decided to try to see if I can get HD with a QAM receiver from the broadband cable as I live in Canton and the OTA reception is not great. I ended up getting about 5 HiDef channels and 15 SDTV channels from Northeast OH TWC. Some were even PPV- I was very suprised. The HiDef channels included 4 local channels and one channel appeared to be a HiDef movie channel. I am pleased with the QAM reception with the unit but the interface is horrible. The QAM tuner is very slow in changing channels (and sometimes unresponsive to the remote) and you cannot go directly to a subchannel. If you want channel 85-3, you have to 85-0 first and then hit channel up . I could not find any way to go directly to a channel. Also, when I did a search, it stopped at channel 107. I had to do my own surfing and found more channels at 111 and higher.

The OTA seems fine though. I could only pick up 3 channels with a indoor antenna that I hung out of my second story window. I suspect it will be better if I actually install an antenna on my house, but I live 35+ miles from most of the transformers up north in Cleveland. I did pick up channel 5 really good yesterday even though antennaweb.org said it was 35 miles away. The interface was quick and the picture was good with the OTA channels.

So I don't know if I will keep it or not. The QAM tuner interface seems very flaky to me. I don't know if an updated firmware will help or not. I have heard that the LGI QAM tuners have a better interface and you can tune channels in directly. I may compare it to a LGI next. Oh- BTW- the manual for the unit seems to go out of its was to not admit directly it has a QAM tuner- sort of like Samsung is nervous for admitting it can decode QAM.

Scott
post #2 of 34
Thanks for this info. I'm trying to decide between this Samsung, the LG LST-4200A, or an HDTV pci card for the computer.

I have time warner (columbus, oh) so I wonder how it will work in my area. I also only have broadband with them.
post #3 of 34
Nice review, thanks! Was wondering if anyone was going to review this brand new STB.
post #4 of 34
I've used this box for about 2 weeks now, both QAM and OTA. I previously owned an LG 3510. I prefer the Samsung for a couple of reasons:

1) More stable QAM decoding;
2) Cost.

At $242 (compared to the LG at $399), the Samsung really only has one glaring weakness: the inability to directly select sub channels. Aside from that, my only other real complaint is that it has a very annoying tendency to crash (unit powers down than display says booting) when searching for QAM channels above 111 (it is fine once it reboots). Otherwise its performance is comparable to the LG. It changes channels nearly as fast or faster (provided you've memorized them and discarded unused channels; otherwise, it's VERY slow), and the menus, while not as attractive, are functional (neither has a digital signal strength meter). There's no discernable difference in the picture between the two units, and the SIR-T451 was able to pick up OTA channels from as far away as 40 miles with an amplified indoor antenna. Both seemed to do a good job resolving OTA signals. However, in QAM mode; the LG would occasionally drop the signal (it just sort of glitched for a brief second every few minutes on almost every channel), while the Samsung really locks in and I rarely see even a hiccup. Oh, and the LG would erase all the channels in memory for QAM when doing an OTA search, then I'd have to remap QAM when switching back to the cable input. The Samsung retains the QAM and OTA channels in memory even when I switch input types.

The T451 isn't perfect, but, for the price, its ability to decode both OTA and QAM makes it an attractive option. Since TWC NEO is running several QAM channels unscrambled on their system, this box plus my Panasonic 47 HD-ready TV has put me in HDTV land for under $1500. So, I'm happy.

Oh, and as an aside: My neighbor (he wrote the review above!) is waiting on an LG 4200, so I'm sure we'll be able to do some side by sides with these two units in the not-too-distant future. At $279, the 4200 is not much more expensive than the 451, so I'll be anxious to see if it is better than its sibling the 3510.
post #5 of 34
I have to disagree with the last poster's review.. I actually did the opposite.. i started with the samsung 451 and upgraded to the lg 3510.. the LG blows the samsung away in all catagories and is well worth the $150 premium.. u can search for a post called "sloooow 451" for other reviews of this box.. basically your right on that the QAM support is terrible.. use the box for a few weeks and u'll end up hating to change channels as it takes forver to "surf" over different qam stations.. the remote is unresponsive and it almost always took 2-3 presses for it to react.. the samsung's remote is way too basic and the inability to go directly to subchannels is rediculous.. i've also been able to pick up a few more channels using the lg than the samsung.. pick up the lg and u won't look back..
post #6 of 34
"i've also been able to pick up a few more channels using the lg than the samsung."

I had the opposite experience. I was able to pick up more stations clearly with the SIR than the 3150 on QAM. For example, the 3150 would bring in TNT HD and Fuel SD, but without audio. The SIR gets both channels with audio.

I also don't have any major problems with the remote, but I'm seated pretty close (about 6' away).

Maybe they've done a firmware upgrade recently? Who knows.
post #7 of 34
I did loose tnt audo on my receiver which i was getting with my 451.. that was rather strange.. oh well..
post #8 of 34
What Firmware VER is on you SIR-T451
post #9 of 34
do you have to subscribe to any cable package to get TNT HD? or they just don't scramble it? [I only have basic basic analog cable]
post #10 of 34
Thread Starter 
They don't scramble it at the moment- at least Northeast OH TWC doesn't.
post #11 of 34
cool i am off to Circuit City! either SIRT451 or LG 4200 whatever they have in stock I'll get!
post #12 of 34
at CC last night. Using a tunable RCA rabbit ear antenna, with a UHF loop, non-powered. Living 10 miles from most of the HD towers. I am using this for OTA only.

The OTA picture quality and reception is very good. No complaints there... although I have to sometimes tune in a channel by dialing the antenna adjustment knob, but that is an antenna type/placement issue.

The remote is simply horrendous in layout and functionality (and sometimes unresponsive too), and channel changing can be slooooow.

Even though it'll cost $200 after the rebate, it is definitely going back this weekend. I'd prefer to pay more for increased usability. Had to start demoing units sometime, and the 451 was first... now off to the next receiver to demo.
post #13 of 34
Is the CC deal 200 or 250 after rebate? Where can I get one for 200, I was going to go with the USD TV box but it doesn't have QAM or DVI.
post #14 of 34
CC has it for $249 before rebate. I have not seen the 451 for $200 before rebate, only ater rebate.
post #15 of 34
It’s a 50-dollar gift card now. That’s too bad, I hate gift cards!
post #16 of 34
If its a VISA Gift Card does that mean you can use it anywhere or do you HAVE to use it at Circiut City?
post #17 of 34
Hi i just purchased one from CC. I got all of OTA local channels fine. I'm just wondering about the QAM capability. Do i need to subscribe to at least basic channel from Comcast?i currently dont subscribe cable from comcast. I connect the cable from wall outlet to the tuner but it doesnt receive any channel. please clarify how to make qam works
post #18 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by jon2k2 View Post

Hi i just purchased one from CC. I got all of OTA local channels fine. I'm just wondering about the QAM capability. Do i need to subscribe to at least basic channel from Comcast?i currently dont subscribe cable from comcast. I connect the cable from wall outlet to the tuner but it doesnt receive any channel. please clarify how to make qam works

Yes you need to subscribe to some minimum cable service. Otherwise NOTHING will be coming over the cable.

Ed
post #19 of 34
I also purchased the SIRT451 from Fry's Electronics in Renton, WA (the last one available) and used it specifically for its QAM capabilities.

The review is dead-on and I think I am going to return the box to Fry's after Superbowl as I cannot see myself using it as an every-day tuner. I may need to go with a HTPC solution (Fusion QAM).

And yes, you do need to subscribe to the most basic cable package ($12-$15/month) in order to get any QAM signals.
post #20 of 34
I purchased a Samsung SIRT451 on Ebay for $40. Apparently alot of people returned them, so now there are pelnty to be cleared out of the used inventory on their Ebay "store". The unit I recieved arrived in a re-taped OEM box, however everthing inside was untouched, still in plastic, and brand new.

I do not use the unit for QAM.

I use it for OTA reception as I live about 35 miles from the transmission towers. Using a Terk HDTV-A amplified indoor antenna I recieve ALL of the available stations in the Los Angelus area at 90% to 100% signal strength.

I don't have anything to compare it against. It seems that the local Circuit City, Best Buy, CompUSA, and every other retailer seems to push DirectTV or Digital Cable for HDTV programming. Most don't even carry terrestrial tuners. When you ask a salesman about a terrestrial tuner or HDTV antenna they look at you like you are from Mars! My local Circuit City did have one new SIR-T451 in stock for $250!!

All HD stations come in crystal clear and with excellent sound. Changing channels is slow, (even with a Harmony remote), so channel surfing is not a strong feature of this tuner.

For the price I paid, (plus $13 for an 8' HDMI cable at Sam's club), it is fabulous!
post #21 of 34
$40 sounds like a fair price for the unit. Too bad they were so expensive when they first came out, Samsung could have sold a ton of them at $99.

I bought mine around March of '06 at CC as an open box return. I paid $199, which I think was too much, but nothing else was available locally at the time at any price. There still isn't, except for the Direct TV and Dish Network units.
post #22 of 34
My local CC still has the Digital Stream Pro Brand Plus tuner on display and in stock.
post #23 of 34
I forgot about that one. I think it was around $239 last time I looked, which is still too expensive IMHO.
post #24 of 34
Just got one from eBay and for OTA HD works better than the USDigital box that I had. For QAM cable, that's a different subject.

Here are the issues that I had the first day I tested it:

1.) The system would always reboot during a channel scan when it got to ch 103, 106, or (If I was lucky) 110

2.) As previous posters have stated, the remote was sometimes nonresponsive until it just completely stopped working.

3.) On the good side, the controls are also on the front of the unit (unlike the USDTV box). On the bad side, it sometimes took two or more presses of the button for the unit to respond.

4.) It would add all of the subchannels even if there was no signal for most of them. Sometimes there would be a channel with no sound or there would be a message "No AV"

Luckily, or unfortunately (however you want to look at the situation) I got this unit for a discounted price.
post #25 of 34
The biggest complaint that I have with the SIR-T451 is the Aspect or Zoom feature. It overstretches 4:3 content horizontally. My set is 4:3. When a station is broadcasting 4:3 content I have a choice of 1.) Normal - watching with black bars on the side and gray bars top and bottom or 2.) Full - watching with black bars on the side and the picture stretched (but not over stretched) vertically to fill the screen or 3.) Zoom - watching with the picture stretched vertically and OVERSTRETCHED horizontally....so much so that content is missing from the picture...like the station logo is half off the screen.
I have called Samsung service twice with no satisfaction. On CSR told me it was supposed to do that, it was a feature. Why would I want a feature that distorts my video?

BTW no firmware upgrade is available for the SIR-T451.

John
post #26 of 34
My SIR-T451 also overstretches 4:3 content horizontally in Zoom mode. It's the main reason that I switched to a US Digital box when I found one at my local Wal-Mart, while I still had a 4:3 SDTV. This issue is moot for me now, because I've since then replaced that old TV with a 16:9 LCD HD-ready TV. I still use the US Digital because I can get to a signal quality indicator faster (single press of the Info button) than on the Samsung (several button presses to dig through the menus).
post #27 of 34
I plan on purchasing one and was wondering if there is a way to run analog cable along with an antenna at the same time? I know there is only one input but can I split the signal? Is it a lost cause?
post #28 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackout187 View Post

I plan on purchasing one and was wondering if there is a way to run analog cable along with an antenna at the same time? I know there is only one input but can I split the signal? Is it a lost cause?

Are you trying to input analog cable to the 451? Why? Cable can go into the TV and the 451 into a component or DVI/HDMI input.

Ed
post #29 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by BeachDweller View Post

I purchased a Samsung SIRT451 on Ebay for $40.

Any hints on who was selling it for this price?

I'm having trouble finding any HD tuners other than on ebay. The few that I've found in stores have been $200+. If I knew I could get decent OTA HD reception, $200 might be ok. But that's a bit much to blow if it turns out I get poor HD reception.
post #30 of 34
Got my Samsung 451 on e-Bay for $123. Took it up north and connected it to the local Comcast Cable out of Pt Austin, MI (Tip of the thumb). To my surprise I now receive the following digital and HD signals. This includes NBC, CBS, ABC+2 sub.ch's., TNT and ESPN2. No Fox as of yet because the Flint Fox affiliate is just in the process of coming on line.
The picture is great on my 50" lcd projection Sony. Since I do not have an antenna
(yet)I could not try the OTA.
The remote is the only thing I dislike as it will not hold in memory the "Favorite channels" requiring resetting them. On a technical note the cable scan produced the stations on CH 59, 60 and 65. ( the analog stations go to 55 +95 through99) It also produced some audio only stations around ch 76. The digital stations are indicated on the Comcast line up in the 231 and up area.
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