I bought the DTV converter box and am debating whether to keep it or not. I bought it last Saturday and hooked it up to my 7-year-old JVC 20" CRT TV that I have in my apartment in the Oklahoma City area. I have never had cable, I view off-the-air broadcasts only, when I do watch TV. I think they designed these boxes with people like me in mind, rather than people who already have cable and don't have to worry about a digital signal.
The little unit is Energy Star compliant, which is important to me. Hooking it up was easy, as long as you remember, if you've got it hooked up to a recording device like I do, to turn on the recording device and set it to the auxiliary channel so that you can see the wizard that comes up on the screen. After that, you just follow the instructions and let it do its work. The audio question it asks is tricky; I chose audio out since I was using the RCA cables to connect to my DVD recorder.
The Autoscan picked up a lot of channels! Granted, I live less than 10 miles from the majority of the stations in the city area. A couple of them were just shots of the weather radar looping around, but I got a station with cheesy telenovelas which should be fun, and I may even be able to watch a soccer game on TV! It's very exciting to see an extra PBS channel and to get to see Charlie Rose again after 20 years of not being shown here. Whether it picked up ALL the channels in the area, I can't say, but it did pick up the ones I'm likely to watch except, at first, our ABC affiliate, KOCO. This was upsetting because I do like Oprah, Ugly Betty, and other programs that I like to record. So I had to research and found out that even though it's on Channel 5, I had to manually punch in 7.1 for it to come in, and then the tuner brought it in as 5.1! Very weird. But, after that, it had no problem finding it again.
Some people may not like the way it has to search for and lock in a channel, but it doesn't bother me that much. Besides if I want to get to a channel quickly, I just need to punch in the number plus .1 and I'm there. Never hurts anybody to slow down and take life easy.
The sound is going from the tuner through the DVD recorder through the TV set and out through the computer speakers I have plugged into the TV's headphone jack. The sound is very smooth, no crackling, no dropouts.
What I didn't like about the picture is I got these faded stripes going across the picture, and sometimes they even flip up and down almost like a vertical hold button gone haywire, and then they disappear. Not sure what that's about because, thank goodness, they didn't happen on every channel. I will say that I have a powered RCA brand antenna, so I wonder if the transformer of the antenna is interfering with it. I unplugged the antenna once and got NO signal, so that may or may not have been the problem. Something else to experiment in the next few months.
What I also didn't like is the remote, and would like to find some way to program it into my Philips Consolidator 4-Device remote (PM435S). I thought I'd put the tuner in the Cable/Sat button, since I'll need the TV part to actually turn the TV on and turn off the closed captioning on occasion.
There was another thread concerned about the closed-captioning on the device, and it does have the functionality of being able to choose typeface, size, and all that, but my TV (and all televisions since about '95) have had closed captioning built in, and the TV's CC kicks in without my even having to activate that of the Magnovox tuner, so I don't worry about it. I'm not deaf, but I use CC for watching sporting events, news, and movies, or if I just want to watch TV with the sound off. Closed captioning is the best thing since fried scrapple!
Regarding why I'm debating to keep it or not, I ran into a snag with my hookups. I still have a standalone mono Panasonic VCR which I have hooked up into my Samsung DVD recorder on its AV1 channel. Unfortunately, the Magnavox tuner needs that input because it doesn't have SVideo. So, I had to do some disconnecting and untangling of cords, and it was an awful mess. I also had to disconnect the antenna (plain old RCA rabbit ears I've had for 5 years) from the DVD recorder and connect it to the tuner so it could get a signal, which made sense. But I've decided I really need my VCR since I still have tapes that I enjoy from time to time. So for the time being I've disconnected the Magnavox tuner and reconfigured my TV-DVD-VCR-computer speaker setup back to the way I had it. So in the next ten months or so I'll be thinking of a way to make that situation work best for me.
Yesterday, I did realize that I could simply buy the digital tuner its own set of rabbit ears, and that would save me from having to disconnect the antenna from the DVD recorder, and while I'm at it, I could buy the tuner it's own set of RCA cables and simply unplug it (SIMPLY?!) whenever I wanted to watch the VCR. This could be a workaround I may experiment with in the next couple of weekends. There's a little antenna less than $10 that people are raving about on Circuit City, and it's not even powered; I may see how well that works for me.
Ultimately, I wonder if buying a DVD/VCR combo recorder with a tuner will be more advantageous, and may simplify my set-up considerably without a need for a separate tuner OR a VCR. There'll be a lot of stuff going to Goodwill if I go that route!
In the meantime, programming the remote will be the most important problem to solve. I really like my Philips with its LARGE, color-coded blue buttons, but the Magnavox is too recent an invention for it to have its codes, and it's not a learning remote. I hate getting rid of something that works well!
Anyway, I hope this post helps some of you lurkers who aren't as tech-y as these men who post seem to be. Don't be afraid of the tuner. It works, and you don't need fancy new equipment to get THIS box to work for you.