Codebox CPUs - great for kiosks, terrible for DTV
I plugged it in. The first thing i heard was the heat sink cream bubbling around the CPU. What the hell? The unit still works - and the unit began to get warm quickly. I tried searching online about the CPU, nothing came up. It's new on the market.
Setup was pretty quick and easy. At one point, it tried to recieve a too-faint signal from Santa Barbara before picking up all of the other channels. It picked up all the correct names for each of the channels. The picture came on, I thought the connector was a bit loose, the picture was kinda fuzzy. I tuned to a cartoon on qubo, and the fuzziness was more apparent. Picture quality was 2/3 of what it should be. Aliasing and feathering pixels, ugh! I had to shut it off, couldn't look at it anymore! It was also slow to switch channels. I mulled as to think of a reason, then it hit me - they did not use a dedicated MPEG chip anywhere - the CPU chip is a "codebox" chip - it's like a place where a programmer can dump machine language into it and it runs the code. They chose to use this rather than to have a "catalog CPU," "catalog firmware" and MPEG decoder chips.
The RMC chip has the MPEG decoder software, uninteresting GUI (three 4-color icons,) closed caption mechanism and the program guide reader. One chip instead of three - better for the environment, hmm? Yes, but, the picture looks so crappy. It ran hot, unlike the combined heat output from other converters. One-man bands sure are lousy, huh?
The remote control is real huge compared to the others, which can be good for seniors. The directional keys are big, but it doesn't give much of an incentive to get this one over other devices.
The aspect ratio setting is the same for all of the channels - there is no individual channel settings. Program guide is minimal - only shows a few shows. No linking to any timers on this model - perhaps the other one has a different firmware.
Closed captioning is handled quite well. If you decided to use the Sunkey's closed caption system, the data would not be sent to your TV so you won't have double captions appearing. I don't know if it interprets captioning effects such as colors and flashing text - can't get MTV on this.
The main fail of this was that they didn't use a set of cool-headed dedicated processors to handle the task, they used a very warm single-CPU system that did not render the picture properly.
It comes with video cables and RF cable. I got this on eBay - this was most likely originally ordered from Meritline to get their cool-looking HDTV skillet pan antenna, as it comes free when you get this converter there. Considering the PQ, they sure do make up for its cost. Sure, it may look cool, but it won't perform well if there are airplanes or freeways in the directional path to the DTV transmitters.
It may be fine with low vision watchers or for small portable TVs under 15 inches, but for the rest of of us, I say: PASS ON THIS ONE.