Originally Posted by seatacboy
I just acquired one of these Magnavox boxes for $10 including the matching remote. I'm going to be testing it out shortly. Have those of you who have used this box over the years any opinions to offer as to its performance and how to address technical glitches that may arise?
I've had one of these since they first came out 5.5 years ago. I haven't used it continuously, so I can't report on its long-term longevity. I tend to use it as a "baseline" for testing purposes. I found the tuner very good at locking onto and keeping even weak signals, so if I'm having trouble with reception on one of my other boxes, I fire up the Magnavox, and if it's having trouble too, I know the problem is atmospheric. Or if I'm tinkering with antenna setup and the Magnavox is having trouble pulling in the weaker channels, that setup isn't going to work.
Here are my two original posts about it; they still sum up my assessment of this box:
My two main "complaints" - neither of them deal-breakers - continue to be:
1. Somewhat soft picture quality. Not terrible, not a deal-breaker. But I like the crisper, sharper PQ I get from the Zenith DTT-901 and Channel Master units.
2. Laborious method of changing the aspect ratio. Around here a lot of the .2 and .3 streams are still 4:3. The Zenith lets you select a permanent aspect ratio for each stream. So, for instance, I can leave 8.2 (METV) permanently on 4:3, while 8.1 (CBS) stays on anamorphic 16:9 (still comes from the box as 4:3 but then gets horizontally stretched by the TV), etc. The sometimes-reviled Dish DTVPal has a top-level button on the remote that lets you change ratio - not as good as the Zenith but still less work than drilling thru menus on the Mag. Again, something I can live with, but I probably won't pull the Mag back into service until the other units conk out.
If you read back through the posts in this thread, you'll see some discussion about the unit running kind of hot. Makes sense given that it does not use an outboard "wall wart" for power conversion and has no ventilation holes in the cabinet. You may want to consider drilling some vent holes in the top - assuming you are somewhat handy and think you can get the top off without damaging the internals. I would definitely do that to mine if I were using it on a daily basis.
Otherwise, the Magnavox is still a solid example of what the CECB was supposed to do: help people keep using their old analog TVs and not have to immediately buy a new TV when the Digital Transition occurred. Like many folks, I did that for a few years, then got a new LCD flat screen when prices came down. Now, I use my CECBs strictly to feed hard-drive based DVD recorders that lack digital tuners but can serve as "frugal man's DVRs" when paired with a CECB. The "converter boxes" still have a niche use for that, and for folks who have tough old CRT TVs, maybe in a secondary application like a garage or workshop, that just won't die.