Just grabbed one of those from eBay. It appears to be this: https://www.soukacatv.com/household-...lator_p46.html
Yes it's one of those cheap Chinese modulators. I haven't hooked it up to a computer yet - I just configured it from the front panel - but at first glance it seems to stack up well against the SL mod:
- Defaults to 1080i. With the SL mod, 720p30 is the only option.
- Virtual channel/subchannel defaults to 2.1. There is a 2.1 in my area, but I don't watch it, so the default is OK for me. I assume if I hook it to a PC, I can reconfigure it to a different VC a la the Thor Petit.
The SL mod defaults to VC 0.0, which is invalid and causes tuners to employ random "correction" strategies (the mStar boxes like iView fall back to the RF channel number + program ID, which is 4, so if you set it to RF 69, the iView will give it VC 69.4; OTOH, my DTVPal made it channel 70.0 )
- Supports ATSC or something called J.83B. Google says J.83B is the QAM standard for North American cable. Don't really need QAM but it may come in handy for testing tuners someday.
- The signal seems a bit cleaner. The SL mod's signal adds a bit of interference to the channel immediately below the one you're using, so you probably wouldn't want to set the SL mod to RF 37 if you have an RF 36 in your area. But with this mod, it looks like you could get away with it.
- As noted above, it's almost $90 cheaper.
Downsides? A couple, but nothing major: first, it's harder to set up from the front panel. Instead of entering the channel number, you must enter a frequency. When I plugged mine in, it displayed 473.0, which I happened to recognize as RF 14. I changed that to 743.0, which is RF 59 (a nice vacant channel). 773.0, which is RF 64, would've been simpler (only need to change the first digit) but I happen to use RF 64 for an analog signal (my old satellite receiver).
Second, I saw the signal drop out a couple of times. The first time was expected: I started Vudu on my DVR+, which uses HDCP. So the signal probably dropped out momentarily until the HDMI handshake could complete with HDCP enabled. But the second time I was just watching whatever TV channel my DVR+ happened to be tuned to; there shouldn't have been any HDMI handshake. (I haven't yet seen it happen a third time, though.)
At any rate, the SL mod displays a bouncing "No Signal" instead of just "going dark" for a few seconds. I tested the new mod by turning off my DVR+. Edit:
Slight amendment to what I had previously posted: when turning the DVR+ off, the new mod goes dark for a few seconds, then comes back on with a static screen reading "DTV." When the DVR+ is turned back on, it goes dark for a few seconds, then comes back on with the picture from the DVR+.
So that was kind of weird. Edit:
And I found one more downside: I can't get WMC to recognize the new mod's signal. The HDHR's own software plays it, so it's specifically a WMC issue. WMC won't tune the SL mod's signal either, but that's understandable because of its invalid 0.0 virtual channel number. Don't know why it won't work with the new mod.
Hardly a show-stopper, though. At this point I'd say I got my $237 worth.
After thinking about things, I made a couple of changes to my configuration. I hooked the DVR+ back up to the SL mod, and hooked my Roku to the new mod. The Roku is "always on" so I won't have to worry about the modulator going dark momentarily when I turn the Roku off or on.
I also reset the new mod to 665 MHz (RF 46), a channel that happens to be very clean and free of noise in my neighborhood. (RF 46 is part of the uplink segment of LTE band 71, but apparently my neighbors have no T-Mobile phones that use it yet.) RF 46 is actually cleaner than obvious choices like RF 37 or RF 45, and by choosing an RF channel below 52, my DVR+ can actually tune to the Roku now!