Best DTV Converter Box?

Undue

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#1
It's getting down to crunch time and I need to choose a converter box soon. Here's my short list with + and - summarys from other reviews that I've seen. This was originall on an excel spreadsheet and a lot prettier so bare with me.

DTVPal Plus
+ TVGOS Channel Menu rocks
+ Pretty cheap with coupon (Less than $15.00 shipped)
+ Better Reception than old DTVPal
- Video Quality is OK
- No S-Video Connection

RCA DTA800B
+ Smart Antenna Option (eh...)
+ Good Reception
+ EPG is Super with a 9 channel "what's on now, what's on next" feature
- No S-Video Connection
- No Zoom options

Channel Master CM-7000
+ Great Reception (can pull in deeper stations)
+ S-Video Connection
- Reviews are mixed about video quality
- EPG Not as good as DTVPal or DTA800B (Only shows programming on current channel)

I've got 20 days until my coupons expire, is there any other boxes I need to add to my list? Which should I go with?
 

1inxs

DTVUSA Member
#2
The Zenith DTT900 is another good choice. I believe all digital to analog boxes offer good video. Most of us wouldn't see a measurable difference in picture quality. The Zenith does NOT have an S-Video connection, but if your TV has a component video that wouldn't be a factor. The onscreen guide is somewhat limited. The remote control of the of the Zenith is able to control the on/off and volume of your TV, which is a nice feature. In reference to the program guide in the Dish Network DTV Pal. If your local CBS affiliate broadcasts the TVGOS signal the Dish Network Pal Plus has the best program guide. I would make sure the converter box you choose has features you would use. Good Luck and enjoy DTV USA.
I've got 20 days until my coupons expire, is there any other boxes I need to add to my list? Which should I go with?
 
#3
If you have stations which are hard to pick up avoid the Zenith and it's Insignia twin. the DTVPal+ and Apex models are great with weaker signals esp ones which fluctuate. the Zenith and Insignia (and RCA DTA800) are 'red-zoners' which means if the signal fluctuates or drifts (like during wind) the boxes 'give up' and flag red and give 'no signal' or unwatchable pictures with no audio. they won't retry until they're turned off and back on, which can be very infuriating if the signal fluctuates a lot. even a tiny bit.

As for the 'best' box, IMHO i like the DTVPal+. other than its lack of universal remote (you can use just about any universal remote to make it work with the TV and box, i did) you get a lot more and it's well worth the extra $10.

With the DTVPal+ to program the universal remote you have to use the 'SAT/CBL' and use the codes for a Dish Network Satellite receiver in the code list. go figure.
 
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Thomas G

Contributor
#4
Have to go with the DTVPal Plus, has the "enhanced digital tuner" for better reception, TVGOS, and Event Timer too for recording on your DVR or VCR. Like DTVuser2009 said, the remote sucks, but you can user other universal remotes with it.
 

Tang

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#5
I've found that the Zenith DTT901 - Insignia NS-DXA1 converter boxes are best for fringe reception but the DTVPal Plus has good reception and a better EPG. For me the choice was easy, I live approx. 15 miles from broadcast towers and with the basic EPG of the NS-DXA1, I went with the DTVPal Plus.

Thoughts on the DTVPal Plus
Overall I'm pretty happy, and I'm sure you'll find some complaints about the DTVPal's remote but hey, they pack a couple of alkaline batteries with the Pal which is another plus over other units. The signal meter is a nice and useful feature too which helped me check how well my set of bunny ears works compared to my UHF/VHF RCA powered antenna. On a clear day, I get about 10-15% better reception with the RCA antenna, but last weekend it was stormy so I did another comparison with the Pal Plus and bunny ears and got approx. 20-25% better reception with the RCA antenna. The 8 timers on the Pal Plus is another nice option if you plan to record with a VCR or DVR.

OTA isn't our main source of TV at our condo but I've got a few TVs with NTSC tuners that needed a converter. I'll be making another purchase here at the end of the month, and may buy a different model after I research a bit more (just to see how well other converters perform too). I may try a DTA800B. :)
 

1inxs

DTVUSA Member
#6
Tang,
I agree with you. Good informative post. Thanks
I've found that the Zenith DTT901 - Insignia NS-DXA1 converter boxes are best for fringe reception but the DTVPal Plus has good reception and a better EPG. For me the choice was easy, I live approx. 15 miles from broadcast towers and with the basic EPG of the NS-DXA1, I went with the DTVPal Plus.

Thoughts on the DTVPal Plus
Overall I'm pretty happy, and I'm sure you'll find some complaints about the DTVPal's remote but hey, they pack a couple of alkaline batteries with the Pal which is another plus over other units. The signal meter is a nice and useful feature too which helped me check how well my set of bunny ears works compared to my UHF/VHF RCA powered antenna. On a clear day, I get about 10-15% better reception with the RCA antenna, but last weekend it was stormy so I did another comparison with the Pal Plus and bunny ears and got approx. 20-25% better reception with the RCA antenna. The 8 timers on the Pal Plus is another nice option if you plan to record with a VCR or DVR.

OTA isn't our main source of TV at our condo but I've got a few TVs with NTSC tuners that needed a converter. I'll be making another purchase here at the end of the month, and may buy a different model after I research a bit more (just to see how well other converters perform too). I may try a DTA800B. :)
 

Lurker Lee

DTVUSA Member
#7
DTVPal Plus
+ TVGOS Channel Menu rocks
+ Pretty cheap with coupon (Less than $15.00 shipped)
+ Better Reception than old DTVPal
Where can I find it for < $15 shipped? Too bad Amazon doesn't carry it so I could get free shipping.

Still weighing my options (and my coupons aren't here yet).
Lee
 

Tang

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#8
Tang,
I agree with you. Good informative post. Thanks
Thanks for the thanks, and thanks for the recommendation too. :) I'll probably pull the trigger on the RCA DTA800B soon.

Found a video demo of it on YouTube.

[YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQafyXftsSQ[/YOUTUBE]

Where can I find it for < $15 shipped? Too bad Amazon doesn't carry it so I could get free shipping.

Still weighing my options (and my coupons aren't here yet).
Lee
Looks like Undue might be a little off on his estimate of the DTVPal Plus Converter, it's about $25.00 after coupon at solidsignal. Unless he can hook us up with a better deal. ;)
 

Orrymain

, Blogger: Orry's Orations
#9
I'm curious too but I just re-ordered my coupons, so I have time to shop around and see what is best. I really appreciate this discussion and the detail. The remote thing doesn't bother me; what's another remote in this crazy world of ours? So, is the agreement basically that the DTVPal Plus is the best?
 

Undue

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#10
Where can I find it for < $15 shipped? Too bad Amazon doesn't carry it so I could get free shipping.

Still weighing my options (and my coupons aren't here yet).
Lee
Thanks for the thanks, and thanks for the recommendation too. :) I'll probably pull the trigger on the RCA DTA800B soon.

Found a video demo of it on YouTube.

[YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQafyXftsSQ[/YOUTUBE]



Looks like Undue might be a little off on his estimate of the DTVPal Plus Converter, it's about $25.00 after coupon at solidsignal. Unless he can hook us up with a better deal. ;)
Yeah, I was off, Solidsignal looks to be about $25/shipped. Still have 5 days left until my coupons expire, and still undecided. :)
 
#11
I have the ARTEC T3AP with analog pass-through and yesterday I hooked it up with Composite red/yellow/white A/V cables and there was a very big difference in PQ over using coax. The PQ was much more sharper and cleaner.

If you have a TV with A/V connections I'd use the composite over coax. Even on SD sub-channels it's much more sharper.
 
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Undue

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#12
I have the ARTEC T3AP with analog pass-through and yesterday I hooked it up with Composite red/yellow/white A/V cables and there was a very big difference in PQ over using coax. The PQ was much more sharper and cleaner.

If you have a TV with A/V connections I'd use the composite over coax.
Thanks for the reply, i'm sorry for being completely oblivious to this but what is PQ?
 
#13
Picture quality. I was really suprised at the difference. The only problem is I need the composite jacks on my tv for my dvd player so I have to use the coax. But it's nice to know incase I ever decide to switch.

Someone on craigslist gave me a nice 19" sharp TV to replace the little tv I had. I like giving old tv's a new life.
 
#14
One of these days i'm going to figure out a way to put a converter box inside a TV and make it work as if it were true-blue digital TV. or solder in a digital tuner in place of the analog tuner and see what happens.
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#15
One of these days i'm going to figure out a way to put a converter box inside a TV and make it work as if it were true-blue digital TV. or solder in a digital tuner in place of the analog tuner and see what happens.
Or solder an HD tuner in place of a analog tuner. Would be interesting. :pop2:
 

Undue

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#16
A little update to the thread, I purchased the DTVPal Plus last week and it's been working great. The program guide has far exceeded my expectations. Broadcast towers are about 22 miles away from my house and I'm only using a bunny ears antenna and haven't had any problems with reception at all. Being able to adjust the aspect ratio is a plus too since my girlfriend hates black bars on some of the shows. Picture quality and sound quality are great over watching old analog broadcasts.
 

1inxs

DTVUSA Member
#17
A little update to the thread, I purchased the DTVPal Plus last week and it's been working great. The program guide has far exceeded my expectations. Broadcast towers are about 22 miles away from my house and I'm only using a bunny ears antenna and haven't had any problems with reception at all. Being able to adjust the aspect ratio is a plus too since my girlfriend hates black bars on some of the shows. Picture quality and sound quality are great over watching old analog broadcasts.
Thanks for posting back. That's good news. The DTV transition is next Friday and everything will just get better from then on.
 
#18
Soldering in an HD tuner to a CRT TV with insufficient pixel amounts and insufficient resolution capability wouldn't be a good idea. i would expect it to take the picture tube and its electronics too far. HD sets have tubes (or LCDs) with much smaller pixels and more of them and the ability to interlace (what the 'i' stand for in 1080i) vs. a SD set. that's why an SD picture on an HD set looks horrific; same reason low resolution settings on a computer monitor look worse when the monitor was designed to have much higher resolution to produce a good quality picture.
 

divxhacker

DTVUSA Member
#19
Picture quality. I was really suprised at the difference. The only problem is I need the composite jacks on my tv for my dvd player so I have to use the coax.
My PQ reviews of all the boxes I've done were based on the output through the coax. Guess I'll have to re-check with output through the RCA plugs. Some could be better.

The Artec is #2 for the EPG, the PQ on it is passable, only if it's used on a small enough TV screen (no bigger than 20 inches)

The RCA is #1 for remote control and additional features. The program guide is #3, it shows a list, but in Now/Next format - it's probably automatically navigating the channels. The video didn't show the PQ, so I have to go and get one after the DTV transition hooplah settles down.

The DTV Pal Plus is very finicky about having the "sleep mode" turned off. That's one thing I don't like - it makes you almost feel like a criminal for having it running for long periods of time. The internal system runs a little slow if left on, it loses about a minute every day it's on continuously. They probably left out the "clock stability" system on it or didn't include a "background processing" system out of it.

Guess I'll have to do Youtube videos of the converter boxes soon, but my TV corner looks messy. (watches video) Oh, my TV corner looks FAR better than that. ;P
 
#20
The DTVPal Plus only gets program information when it's off as well. otherwise you eventually get days of 'No Program Information' and 'DTV Program'; my only con to this box besides that is that if the program guide is missing information for shows say an hour later (the channel gives limited info or only gives you so much at one time) you cannot simply power the box off and back on to re-download the guide and there's no 'force guide' to make it download. you can only allow it to power itself off and when you turn it on after it downloads a new guide. but it has to turn itself off first.

What i wonder about it is if it can update its firmware like Dish Satellite receivers do, to add new features or a better guide or something? it does have a 'sys info' feature listing the software and OS currently used, so i would like to say it does support firmware updates OTA. the manual seems to say so when it recommends it 'powered off after use to perform maintenance'
 
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