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RCA DTA800 Digital to Analog TV Converter Box

post #1 of 405
Thread Starter 
From amazon.com's description of the RCS DTA800:

"Includes SmartAntenna interface for separately purchased antenna that can be electronically controlled by the DTA800"

What's that all about? I did quick google of "SmartAntenna interface" and didn't come up with much.

IMHO, the only smart thing a new converter box could do is rotate my antenna for me.

James
post #2 of 405
That's exactly what it does. However, like it says, it does it electronically using the same technique as phased-array radar. It's meant to be a set-top antenna for indoor locations. The box steers the antenna to maximize the signal and minimize multi-path. It does it in real-time so it can compensate for multi-path generating objects that are moving (planes, trains, automobiles, and people in the room).


Ernie
post #3 of 405
I have one of the prototypes of that unit, together with the DX Antenna DTA-5000:

http://www.dxantenna.co.jp/english/p...a/dta5000.html

The antenna is a pair of crossed dipoles, together with a solid-state routing matrix, which feeds different combinations of the four antenna elements to a preamp. The preamp has several gain settings, and has bandpass filters for the major TV bands (VHF-Low, VHF-High, and UHF).

The power and control signals are multiplexed on to the single coax, using a little interface box that sits behind the receiver.

When you scan the STB, it goes to channel 2, tries all combinations of antenna "directions" (it can create 16 possible azimuths by electronically switching the elements), and then...if it sees something resembling a DTV signal...it fine tunes the filters, azimuth, and preamp gain for the best signal. This is done using signal strength and signal "Q" (Quality, using the error correction signals within the STB), and the settings are then stored in the STB. Then, it tries channel 3, and so on.

Most of the newer chipsets for DTV have the interface capability, but this is only one of a couple of boxes I have seen that implement it. The NTIA specs, for the "subsidized" converters allow it to be used.

I think it's pretty slick. I hope more manufacturers start implementing it.

BTW, if you can find them, the DTA-5000 sells for about $80-100, street-price.
post #4 of 405
Kenglish, if you're allowed to talk about it, have you been able to test the prototype with a normal antenna setup? I'm sure I'm not the only one who has wondered if the upcoming "cheap" converter boxes are as sensitive and as good at multipath rejection as higher-end STB's like the Samsung DTB-H260F.
post #5 of 405
Thread Starter 
Looks like this box is definitely intended for the coupon program.
http://www.keepmytv.com/
post #6 of 405
My question is when will the DTA800 be available in stores? My guess is they are waiting until 2008 when the coupon program starts.
post #7 of 405
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by roger1818 View Post

My question is when will the DTA800 be available in stores? My guess is they are waiting until 2008 when the coupon program starts.

That's what RCA's website says.
post #8 of 405
I just signed up for my $40 coupons.
post #9 of 405
As of today, 01/02/2008, I could not find the RCA DTA800 on the NTIA web site listing boxes approved for the coupon program. Maybe it will show up at a later date.

http://www.ntiadtv.gov/cecb_list.cfm

I also searched for it on Amazon, but no luck.
post #10 of 405
Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceAZ View Post

As of today, 01/02/2008, I could not find the RCA DTA800 on the NTIA web site listing boxes approved for the coupon program. Maybe it will show up at a later date

Thomson recently sold its consumer electronics business to Audiovox, perhaps the new owner decided to drop the product.
post #11 of 405
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenglish View Post

When you scan the STB, it goes to channel 2, tries all combinations of antenna "directions" (it can create 16 possible azimuths by electronically switching the elements), and then...

I count 15 combinations choosing at least 1 element. The 16th combination is 'none', which is probably the best choice more times than you'd think.
post #12 of 405
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceAZ View Post

As of today, 01/02/2008, I could not find the RCA DTA800 on the NTIA web site listing boxes approved for the coupon program. Maybe it will show up at a later date.

http://www.ntiadtv.gov/cecb_list.cfm

I also searched for it on Amazon, but no luck.

https://usm.channelonline.com/maglob...?id=M004064277
http://www.techdepot.com/pro/product...affid=10000485
http://www.compsource.com/ttechnote....vid=1176&src=F

I don't know if any of these retailers are or will be equipped to accept coupons.
post #13 of 405
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whidbey View Post

Looks like this box is definitely intended for the coupon program.
http://www.keepmytv.com/

Heh. Dig the old guy... they could've made him a generic cartoon character of unspecified age, but they specifically made him old. Shows who they think their target market is, I guess.
post #14 of 405
Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcbrine View Post

Heh. Dig the old guy... they could've made him a generic cartoon character of unspecified age, but they specifically made him old.

Heh heh ... good catch.
post #15 of 405
Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcbrine View Post

Heh. Dig the old guy... they could've made him a generic cartoon character of unspecified age, but they specifically made him old. Shows who they think their target market is, I guess.



post #16 of 405
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcbrine View Post

Heh. Dig the old guy... they could've made him a generic cartoon character of unspecified age, but they specifically made him old. Shows who they think their target market is, I guess.

Yeah, but the young sales guy doesn't fit the stereotype of the typical BB/CC store. He appears helpful.

Old Guy - "Do you have one of them there converter box thingys?"
BB/CC Sales Guy - "You mean a satellite system? That will get you more channels! And you won't have to spend a penny today!"
post #17 of 405
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenglish View Post

I have one of the prototypes of that unit, together with the DX Antenna DTA-5000:

http://www.dxantenna.co.jp/english/p...a/dta5000.html

The antenna is a pair of crossed dipoles, together with a solid-state routing matrix, which feeds different combinations of the four antenna elements to a preamp. The preamp has several gain settings, and has bandpass filters for the major TV bands (VHF-Low, VHF-High, and UHF).

The power and control signals are multiplexed on to the single coax, using a little interface box that sits behind the receiver.

When you scan the STB, it goes to channel 2, tries all combinations of antenna "directions" (it can create 16 possible azimuths by electronically switching the elements), and then...if it sees something resembling a DTV signal...it fine tunes the filters, azimuth, and preamp gain for the best signal. This is done using signal strength and signal "Q" (Quality, using the error correction signals within the STB), and the settings are then stored in the STB. Then, it tries channel 3, and so on.

Most of the newer chipsets for DTV have the interface capability, but this is only one of a couple of boxes I have seen that implement it. The NTIA specs, for the "subsidized" converters allow it to be used.

I think it's pretty slick. I hope more manufacturers start implementing it.

BTW, if you can find them, the DTA-5000 sells for about $80-100, street-price.

Which RCA version SD-STB did you test with the DTA-5000 Smart Antenna?
DTA-800A uses Zoran SupraHD 640 with Cascade 220, whereas DTA-800B uses Broadcom BCM3543.

PS: I summarized my experience with SMART ANTENNAS in SD-STB comparison thread,
including DTA-5000 internal pictures and descriptions:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...1#post13015675
post #18 of 405
Hi. Getting ready to convert a couple analog TV's to digital and shopping for converter box. Looking at LG LSX300-4DM, Insignia (NS-DXA1), Xenith DTT900, Philips TB100MW9, Digital Stream DX8700, DSP6500N, DSP7700T, D2A1D10, D2A1D20, Ngki Lik NL8008, NL8009, THompson RCA DTA800B and Maxmedia MMDTV803. Has anyone done enough research on these to recommend any of them? Solid Signal trying to sell Channel Master and Sansonic brands.

Dave E
post #19 of 405
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whodart View Post

Hi. Getting ready to convert a couple analog TV's to digital and shopping for converter box. ... Has anyone done enough research on these to recommend any of them? ...

There are reviews and comments about various converter boxes in the following thread:

LG's Zenith-branded DTT900 Digital to Analog Converter Box
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=948767


In particular, concentrate on the latest several pages (8, 9, 10, 11).

Avio
post #20 of 405
Thanks AVIO. I found that post after I asked for information. I have been looking at all of them, most are for ATSC only and don't provide for Analog
tuner. I assume all you have to do is turn the converter off and let the RF signal pass thru to the TV.

Dave E Reason for that is I want to use wife's TV in kitchen for anlog and digital until the changeover. She likes to record her soaps and cut the commercials out, we still old fashioned, don't have TIVO or a DVR. I wanted a converter box that will let me use both. ALready have a good antenna and get local HD signals thru my DISH receiver, just gonna split it off and run it to kitchen for her.
post #21 of 405
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whodart View Post

I assume all you have to do is turn the converter off and let the RF signal pass thru to the TV.

Unfortunately (as FCC Chairman Martin belatedly realized) RF pass through is not a requirement but an optional feature of the CECBs so don't assume.
post #22 of 405
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whodart View Post

Hi. Getting ready to convert a couple analog TV's to digital and shopping for converter box. Looking at LG LSX300-4DM, Insignia (NS-DXA1), Xenith DTT900, Philips TB100MW9, Digital Stream DX8700, DSP6500N, DSP7700T, D2A1D10, D2A1D20, Ngki Lik NL8008, NL8009, THompson RCA DTA800B and Maxmedia MMDTV803. Has anyone done enough research on these to recommend any of them? Solid Signal trying to sell Channel Master and Sansonic brands.

Dave E

Way too early....only a couple "early adopter" reports.
Be sure to also check out the CECB Comparison thread:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...=980052&page=4
post #23 of 405
I only have analog TV equipment: TV, VCR, DVR Recorder

It seems that to record DTV signals, if I purchase a converter, it would have to feed my analog equipment.

Is there a converter that can be programmed to switch between DTV channels so multiple programs from various channels may be recorded when I am away for a few days? (obviously having the DVD recorder set to "input 1" or such for all the recordings) Thank you.
post #24 of 405
None out yet. Check out the Echostar / Sling Media TR40 when it comes out - it's supposed to have VCR timers.

You may also want to check out the Echostar TR50 when it comes out - it's supposed to to be a dual ATSC tuner DVR .
post #25 of 405
Picked up an 800B model (there has been reported an A model that uses an older chipset) at a Walmart on Saturday. I had picked up an Insignia box at BB on Monday so I have the two to compare. I haven't had much time to play with it this weekend, hope to have more time during the week. Initial reactions are that this box has a very, very basic feature set compared to the Insignia box. Not to say it doesn't work very well at the most basic level for it's intended audience as I have been using it tonight. Looks like it has only two global aspect ratio settings available only from the menu and no way to switch on the fly with the remote without going to the menus. Remote has large buttons. Channel information display box is very large. I don't have a smart antenna so I have no way to check that feature out. I remember seeing a deep scan option for the smart antenna that I can't find any more. I have not found a way to add non automatically scanned channels and it appears to refuse to take a direct UHF channel input that isn't already in the scanned list. I just checked again and it refuses any kind of a direct RF channel entry that I can tell, scanned in previously or not. When the scanned in channel is too weak it drops down to the next channel it can pick up. It appears to "hang up" when it misses a channel (can't decode it and complains about signal strength) in the list and won't take a new direct entry until you push the channel up/down to a channel it can decode/receive. I'm hoping to get time to make an A/B/C comparison against the Insignia/Zenith box and the older generation HD Directv boxes I have been using up until now. Both coupon boxes appear to do a better job with multipath. My LG based tuners (Sony HD200, Zenith 520, LSS-3200A and my Hisense USDTV box) can't get my main locals at the same time I pick up my out of DMA stations when I am pointed at them. Both coupon boxes reliably pick up all the locals on the back side of the antenna when pointed at the out of DMA stations. None of the older chipset based boxes will pick up more than a couple of the stations this way. The box suffers from the common engineering/programming design assumption malady that antenna rotors don't exist and all consumers get all their viewable channels from the same static direction at the same time and that all channels are on the air 24/7. I have a couple that go off the air at midnight from smaller markets, so don't run a channel scan after that time. I have found no way to get it to keep all channels found, each scan erases previous channels and starts fresh. Direct RF channel broadcast entry results in the unit moving to the closest match of the entered numbers. I lost 4 southern DMA channels on a scan trying to pick up a NW channel. My main channels are at 2 degrees. Both the composite and the RF channels outputs look good, almost DVD quality, certainly better than an NTSC analog signal, although without an S-Video option some "crawl" can sometimes be noticed on dots, herringbone patterns and colored stripes in closeups, not an uncommon problem with composite video. My test set is a very low mileage late 90's 27" RCA with the built in Gemstar Guide plus+ used by Thomson on most of their RCA/GE's of that era. It has both Composite and RF inputs for quick comparison and I'd be hard pressed to tell the difference. RF and Composite signals are output simultaneously for viewing/recording at the same time. I have some older VCR's that I would like to test out with some recording next, when I get some time. The unit has no RF pass through when off.
post #26 of 405
Quote:
Originally Posted by w0en View Post

Picked up an 800B model (there has been reported an A model that uses an older chipset) at a Walmart on Saturday. I don't have a smart antenna so I have no way to check that feature out. I remember seeing a deep scan option for the smart antenna that I can't find any more.

can you please check your Walmart receipt and post their stock number so I know what to ask for in my local store? I'm specifically looking for a smartantenna box to use my $40 coupon on. since NewEgg's smartantenna box is sold by mail order, I don't know if the coupon can be used there as easily as any local cash & carry.
post #27 of 405
Don't have the receipt with me now, but they were selling two brands - a Magnavox and the RCA. The RCA's were in a stack. There was only one Magnavox there but others are reporting some DOA out of the box with that unit and the Walmart was 30 miles from home. I had only seen kenglish's preliminary evaluation report on the RCA so far, so I went with it. On the bottom of the shipping box it is marked 800B on a sticker if you can examine it in the store. I'll look for the receipt at lunchtime when I go home to find the SKU of the unit.
post #28 of 405
Quote:
Originally Posted by w0en View Post

I'll look for the receipt at lunchtime when I go home to find the SKU of the unit.

Thanks. I live far from a Walmart, so I don't want to go unless I can confirm over the phone they have the later B smartantenna version in stock. I look forward to reading more of your feedback on all the boxes you have tried.
post #29 of 405
Quote:
Originally Posted by Packeteers View Post

Thanks. I live far from a Walmart, so I don't want to go unless I can confirm over the phone they have the later B smartantenna version in stock. I look forward to reading more of your feedback on all the boxes you have tried.

UPC for the DTA800B from the box is 34909 72047
Walmart receipt is marked with the S/N of the unit and it is imprinted on the next receipt line as "converterbox 003490972047". I believe both the A & B models have the same smartantenna capability, they use a different chipset to do the decoding.
post #30 of 405
Walmart seems to internally use a 9 digit product number which probably starts with "00", do you have any idea from the reciept or walmart box sticker what that number could be? Walmart's web sight shows it as 000502155 for what we presume is the older "A" non SmartAntenna model. I guess that 003490972047 is the Walmart number. It's impossible to get anyone on the phone with Walmart to figure out their internal part number distinction. I called 5 different stores, and was either left on hold, hung up on, or transferred back and force between departments. apparently they don't have access to internal computers to look anything up, only the cash register bar code readers do. Thanks for reminding me why I never shop there...
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