Do ATSC Tuner TVs Work well With an Antenna?

RCA Sucks

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#1
I'm undecided between trying to find a reliable digital TV converter to replace the crappy, increasingly malfunctioning RCA DTA 800B1 converter box that I bought from Walmart for my small screen analog TV or just buy a new TV with an ATSC tuner.

What would be the difference in picture quality between a new digital TV with an ATSC tuner and antenna compared to a good-working analog TV, converter box and antenna combination?
 

Eureka

DTVUSA Member
#2
I'm undecided between trying to find a reliable digital TV converter to replace the crappy, increasingly malfunctioning RCA DTA 800B1 converter box that I bought from Walmart for my small screen analog TV or just buy a new TV with an ATSC tuner. Virtually all HDTVs offer stereo sound, where many older analog TVs are mono sound only.

What would be the difference in picture quality between a new digital TV with an ATSC tuner and antenna compared to a good-working analog TV, converter box and antenna combination?
Virtually all new TVs are high definition. HD offers noticeably sharper images and many more shades of colors in the picture. Lines of resolution would be anywhere from 720 to 1080, vs 480 for your old standard definition analog TV.

See the other thread you started, for a few brands known to work well with an antenna in difficult reception areas.

If you just want to replace the crap converter box, get a Zenith, Artec or DTVPal on eBay or craigslist. As you have found, there is a big difference in converter boxes.
 
Last edited:

RCA Sucks

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#3
Thank you Eureka. I'm persuaded that you're highly knowledgeable about TV technology but, just for the record, how and where did you acquire your understanding that the Zenith, Artec and DTVPal brands are significantly more reliable and better that the average converter box?
 

Eureka

DTVUSA Member
#5
What piggie said. Plus, I've installed quite a few converter boxes and replaced several magnavox & RCA brands that went south or didn't pick up all the local available channels, some of which are over 70 miles away.

In my experience, the Zenith, Artec and DTVPal boxes have worked almost flawlessly. The only problem I've had was a Zenith, whose blue "on" indicator on the front of the box quit working.
 

Don_M

DTVUSA Member
#6
There's another consideration here. Everything Eureka said about the superiority of HDTV images versus DTV downconverted to analog for use on a tube TV is absolutely true. However, my experience has shown that the tuners in well-built converter boxes are noticeably more robust in the face of weak signals and multipath interference than those built into HDTVs.

If your signals are strong and you had few or no ghosting issues when viewing analog broadcasts before the transition, this aspect is of no consequence to you. If so, please feel free to ignore everything I've said here!
 

RCA Sucks

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#7
However, my experience has shown that the tuners in well-built converter boxes are noticeably more robust in the face of weak signals and multipath interference than those built into HDTVs.
Wow! That's an extraordinarily relevant fact. Thank you Don_M.

But that leads to the question, which models of HDTVs have the most robust tuners in the case of weak signals and multipath interference? For organizational efficiency, please post your answer in the thread Which Brand of Digital TVs Works Best With An Antenna?
 

Don_M

DTVUSA Member
#8
There's only anecdotal evidence available, and we're sure to see plenty of it piling up in that thread you started. That was a great idea!

There's been no objective testing that pits HDTV tuners against each other, or against converter boxes, for that matter. Consumer Reports doesn't take tuner performance into account, only parameters such as video detail, black level and sound quality. About three years ago, the FCC released results of a study comparing about a dozen TVs with integrated digital tuners, plus maybe a half-dozen digital-to-analog converters. While it found wide variations in sensitivity (ability to capture weak signals), selectivity (ability to resist adjacent-channel interference), and resistance to multipath interference, the paper didn't identify makes and models by anything more specific than randomly assigned letters. The study also didn't compare how well converters performed versus tuners built into HDTVs.

I only brought it up because every one of the converter boxes I installed in the last year for rabbit-ears-using neighbors living nearby performed just as well as, if not better than, my HDTV, which is hooked up to a dedicated, two-antenna (VHF and UHF separates) system. Other Internet posters have noted much the same thing.

Practically speaking, the difference means that if you choose an HDTV with a built-in tuner, it may need a somewhat better antenna to provide the same performance as a converter box. This is an important consideration, but not a decisive one.
 

JakesDTVBlog

DTVUSAForum Member, , , Webmaster of: Jake's DTV B
#9
My experience is fairly limited; I have had only two sets with built-in tuners (one a Sanyo 32" tube, the other a Dynex 32" LCD), but I will say that the Dynex, which we bought from Best Buy earlier this year, does seem to perform quite well in terms of pulling in channels, easily on a par with (or better than) the Magnavox and Venturer converters, depending on which I'm using at the given time.

The Dynex set is more than capable of taking a weak signal and making it watchable, although I wish it had a better signal meter. All you get are four color bars, red being "bad," proceeding through yellow, blue, then green is "good."

Aside from that, it's a great TV. And it was under $400. You can get a slightly fancier Insignia model @ BB now for about the same money, and you get more inputs.
 

Eureka

DTVUSA Member
#10
... the Dynex, which we bought from Best Buy earlier this year, does seem to perform quite well in terms of pulling in channels...
A lot of a TV's performance has to do with who made the tuner chipsets inside the TVs. This can vary from model to model and year to year, within the same brand.

One reason most converter boxes work fairly well is that in order to be "coupon-eligible" all converters had to meet minimum standards of reception performance. If not, they weren't included in the coupon program.

Just curious, does the Dynex have an "add new channels" option, either manually or by a subsequent scan (after the initial setup scan)? This is a must have feature in my area, where antenna rotors are often needed to find all the available channels, here on the edge of 3 DMAs.
 

Similar threads

Top