Reception sensitivity on HDTVs

protonnn

DTVUSA Rookie
#1
I live in a fringe area for antenna reception of TV, and am having trouble finding a TV with a better ability to handle a weak signal. So far, I get more digital stations with an old TV and a converter box than with a new HDTV. I don't need advice on antennas or amplifiers. I need to know if TV brands vary among themselves and from other brands in their ability to handle a weak antenna signal. If so, what spec do I look for? Sony emailed me to phone their number, and when I did, the digital TV woman did not even know what a fringe area was! Some expert!
 

Don_M

DTVUSA Member
#2
Now, that's what I call a loaded question! It's also a very good one. Sadly, there's no good answer because the makers of HDTVs and converter boxes don't release technical specs. It's not because they have something to hide; part of the reason is that, unlike with the analog tuners of earlier days, every maker uses different software, making side-by-side comparisons at least partially irrelevant. There hasn't been any independent testing recently that anyone is aware of. The FCC did publish side-by-side sensitivity comparisons about four years ago, but advances in tuner/software design since then have rendered those conclusions moot. Besides, the agency didn't identify which maker was behind HD receiver "A," HDTV "B" or converter box "C," and it didn't compare products across the categories, either.

You're certainly not alone in observing a notable sensitivity difference. Many, many online posters have made the same comment. I noticed the difference firsthand while installing CECBs last year for a few older neighbors. Even though every one of them has set-top rabbit ears, their reception is nearly as reliable as what I get with my HDTV, and I have separate, and fairly large, VHF and UHF antennas in the attic.

I can only speculate, but I believe the difference has to do with the target buyers of each kind of tuner. HDTV makers know that roughly 85 percent of customers intend to connect their new sets to cable or satellite, because that's the proportion of households that pay for TV service. TVs connected to strong signal sources, such as those provided by the subscription services, don't need tuners that are all that sensitive, do they?

On the other hand, 100 percent of the converter boxes were destined to be fed by antennas, and their makers had to assume that a good number of these boxes would be hooked up to rabbit ears. To work well, a converter box on rabbit ears needs a tuner that is both highly sensitive and highly resistant to multipath interference.

The best you can do is to choose your new HDTV from among brands known for quality products, such as Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic, Samsung, etc.
 

Piggie

Super Moderator
#3
...........TVs connected to strong signal sources, such as those provided by the subscription services, don't need tuners that are all that sensitive, do they?

On the other hand, 100 percent of the converter boxes were destined to be fed by antennas, and their makers had to assume that a good number of these boxes would be hooked up to rabbit ears. To work well, a converter box on rabbit ears needs a tuner that is both highly sensitive and highly resistant to multipath interference.

The best you can do is to choose your new HDTV from among brands known for quality products, such as Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic, Samsung, etc.
Don what is so odd I have an Insignia (early one before APT), DTVPal Plus, and older Toshiba TV and a Ölevia I bought on a Thanksgiving day sale at K-Mart 18 months ago. The Ölevia hands down wins on weak signal, mulitpath, co-channel. I bought it simply on price before I knew as much as I know now about differences in TVs.

My 25 year old analog RCA has failed on the weekend. I researched for the best inexpensive 32 inch LCD to replace it. The Ölevia model I bought had good reviews and was on sale at Best Buy for $600. I was hedging around not wanting to spend that much when my wife saw the same TV in a flyer someone left on a table at the restaurant. So I got up at 5 am and headed down to get in line. I plain got lucky.

I really wish there was a comparison but like you I doubt there is even seen enough of a demand for OTA reception for someone to do it.
 

protonnn

DTVUSA Rookie
#4
Thanks for the information, although I hate to have the unpleasant results of my own attempts to find such information confirmed. There are millions of antenna users, so I would think it would be worth a few extra bucks to the Sonys of the world to build a better tuner on at least a few models.
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#5
Thanks for the information, although I hate to have the unpleasant results of my own attempts to find such information confirmed. There are millions of antenna users, so I would think it would be worth a few extra bucks to the Sonys of the world to build a better tuner on at least a few models.
I've often wondered this myself. How much money could TV manufactures actually be saving with putting in a cheaper tuner chip?

I've also wondered if the newer HDTVs are being built with better chips than one's built 2 years ago, just like how the converter boxes a year ago had weaker chips, and since then, some models now have a revision batch, produced with better dtv signal receiving digital tuners.
 

Piggie

Super Moderator
#6
I've often wondered this myself. How much money could TV manufactures actually be saving with putting in a cheaper tuner chip?

I've also wondered if the newer HDTVs are being built with better chips than one's built 2 years ago, just like how the converter boxes a year ago had weaker chips, and since then, some models now have a revision batch, produced with better dtv signal receiving digital tuners.
That is what I find so odd about my chineese, el cheapo, off brand Ölevia.
I was not bragging above taking about it, I find it odd it's my best tuner.

I bought it Thanksgiving 2007 on sale. In reviews I found it was on sale last time in big box stores for Christmas 2006. I then could determine that it was first released in Summer of 2006 about. So figure from that it was at newest early 2006 technology.

And it's my best tuner????????????????????

It will beat my CECB boxes including an Insignia which is the DXers choice.

That blows out some of the chip information, unless I don't know that the newest chip design was as far back as early 2006?????

I have no other info and probably can't find much unless someone that knows the generations of chips chimes in.

Again I am guessing but I think most of the CECBs were designed in early or mid 2007?


========

Aside:

I remember looking for any converter for a friend in late 2007 and all we could find were real HD outputs and about $200 and only a couple of models.

I remember thinking before I understood how much good is a $40 coupon going to be on a $200 box. I didn't realize a special generation would be coming out.

I remember thinking at the time also that time was running out for people and what would they do? (didn't realize the CECBs were going to be made at that point).

Looking back if most stations where on the air by 2003, why did CECBs come out in 2008? And why did they wait until 2007 to mandate ATSC tuners? I still think that was one of the biggest mistakes of the transition.
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#7
I've often wondered this myself. How much money could TV manufactures actually be saving with putting in a cheaper tuner chip?
Cost-reduced chips definitely have a major impact. I know that the original HD TiVo, the TiVo Series 3, sold for $800 when it came out in 2006, and only dipped below $500 when it finally was being cleared out of inventories. By comparison, the follow-on TiVo HD, which was in most ways simply a cost-reduced version of the TiVo S3, started at $400 and have come down to $250. The TiVo S3 was priced based on cost, because it was so costly. As a result, it sold for a price higher than most reasonable people would think was fair. The TiVo HD is selling roughly at cost, and with the requirement for purchasing service for the device, presumable selling at a profit, getting TiVo closer to pricing based on value, which is better for TiVo.
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#8
That is what I find so odd about my chineese, el cheapo, off brand Ölevia.
I was not bragging above taking about it, I find it odd it's my best tuner.

I bought it Thanksgiving 2007 on sale. In reviews I found it was on sale last time in big box stores for Christmas 2006. I then could determine that it was first released in Summer of 2006 about. So figure from that it was at newest early 2006 technology.

And it's my best tuner????????????????????

It will beat my CECB boxes including an Insignia which is the DXers choice.

That blows out some of the chip information, unless I don't know that the newest chip design was as far back as early 2006?????

I have no other info and probably can't find much unless someone that knows the generations of chips chimes in.

Again I am guessing but I think most of the CECBs were designed in early or mid 2007?


========

Aside:

I remember looking for any converter for a friend in late 2007 and all we could find were real HD outputs and about $200 and only a couple of models.

I remember thinking before I understood how much good is a $40 coupon going to be on a $200 box. I didn't realize a special generation would be coming out.

I remember thinking at the time also that time was running out for people and what would they do? (didn't realize the CECBs were going to be made at that point).

Looking back if most stations where on the air by 2003, why did CECBs come out in 2008? And why did they wait until 2007 to mandate ATSC tuners? I still think that was one of the biggest mistakes of the transition.
Alright Piggie, you're going to have to tell me how you did the O in Ölevia? The only way I could replicate it was by copying and pasting it here in the text box.

I definitely find it strange that some of the bigger and supposedly better TVs have subpar tuners. I haven't had any experience with Ölevia, but a friend of mine bought 2 of them last Summer. His ATSC tuners work great, but one of the TVs went back within 3 months, which he took back to Costco and got a replacement one.

Cost-reduced chips definitely have a major impact. I know that the original HD TiVo, the TiVo Series 3, sold for $800 when it came out in 2006, and only dipped below $500 when it finally was being cleared out of inventories. By comparison, the follow-on TiVo HD, which was in most ways simply a cost-reduced version of the TiVo S3, started at $400 and have come down to $250. The TiVo S3 was priced based on cost, because it was so costly. As a result, it sold for a price higher than most reasonable people would think was fair. The TiVo HD is selling roughly at cost, and with the requirement for purchasing service for the device, presumable selling at a profit, getting TiVo closer to pricing based on value, which is better for TiVo.
I can see it being more of an issue especially with the Tivo units because they're built with two tuners right? Effectively doubling the difference in cost by having the extra tuner.
 

Don_M

DTVUSA Member
#9
I've often wondered this myself. How much money could TV manufactures actually be saving with putting in a cheaper tuner chip?
Helps to look at it from the manufacturer's standpoint: If you can save 50 cents a unit by using chip "B" instead of "A" and you sell 2 million units a year, that's a million bucks that drops straight to the bottom line.

Don what is so odd I have an Insignia (early one before APT), DTVPal Plus, and older Toshiba TV and a Ölevia I bought on a Thanksgiving day sale at K-Mart 18 months ago. The Ölevia hands down wins on weak signal, mulitpath, co-channel. I bought it simply on price before I knew as much as I know now about differences in TVs.
Ölevias got a good reputation very, very quickly, and this is probably why. This is the first time I've read about the reverse being true, but there are always exceptions to every rule! I'll have to keep them in mind for when we buy our next panel.
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#10
I can see it being more of an issue especially with the Tivo units because they're built with two tuners right? Effectively doubling the difference in cost by having the extra tuner.
TiVos have six tuners: Two ATSC tuners, two QAM tuners, and two NTSC tuners, in two stacks of three. Yes, loads of opportunities for economies of scale to do their magic there.
 
#11
Based on my own analysis I've found that my converter box hooked up to a regular TV was better at picking up channels then my Vizio LCD did. Like I would have the antenna in the same spot untouched and each tv picked up different channels and different signal levels.

My Vizio is now being used for Local unencrypted QAM channels in the living room. ;)
 

CptlA

DTVUSA Member
#12
TiVos have six tuners: Two ATSC tuners, two QAM tuners, and two NTSC tuners, in two stacks of three. Yes, loads of opportunities for economies of scale to do their magic there.
Lots of tuners there. ;) For a little more info on the Tivo tuners (if anyone's looking for it), here's FAQs to their latest offered DVRs,

Questions About TiVo Series 2 Dual Tuner DVR - TiVo

Questions About the TiVo HD DVR - TiVo

Questions about TiVo Series 3 HD DVR - TiVo

Questions About the TiVo HD XL DVR - TiVo
 
#13
I live in a fringe area for antenna reception of TV, and am having trouble finding a TV with a better ability to handle a weak signal. So far, I get more digital stations with an old TV and a converter box than with a new HDTV. I don't need advice on antennas or amplifiers. I need to know if TV brands vary among themselves and from other brands in their ability to handle a weak antenna signal. If so, what spec do I look for? Sony emailed me to phone their number, and when I did, the digital TV woman did not even know what a fringe area was! Some expert!
I am having the exact same experience! Did you find any help with identifying more sensitive tuners??
 

protonnn

DTVUSA Rookie
#15
dennis
No. The only information I have gathered has been on this thread, and as you can see, the verdict seems to be that such information is simply not available, at least not to the public.
 
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