which converter box should I buy?

#2
I have the Magnovox Box. It is a total disappointment. Do the research on the web and this forum. With a little reading you will be able to make a better decision than I did by going to Walmart and buying the junk I got. Has a very very poor slow tuner and the remote is micro miniture junk. I have just purchased an Insignia from Best Buy off of eBay. Hoping it will be much better waiting for it to try. Scarrygary
 

NYCLA*

DTVUSA Member
#4
I have less than a week to spend my coupons. Which converter box will get me the most channels? I need one that will work with my Magnavox TV.

Liz
They're all capable of getting the same channels, though some might have a more "sensitive" tuner. I like the DTV Pal Plus for it's comprehensive EPG, the best on the market. That was a very important consideration for me. However, I have big problem with it's inability to override or ignore an AFD flag (which before I bought it, I was unaware even of AFD's existence).
 
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#5
So the magnovox isnt that good

I have a magnovox tuner, during the channel scan it almost stops on some channels but it will not pull them. Will other tuners on the market slove this problem and pull in even weak signals or are they all basicy the same.
 

O-O

DTVUSA Member
#6
I have a magnovox tuner, during the channel scan it almost stops on some channels but it will not pull them. Will other tuners on the market slove this problem and pull in even weak signals or are they all basicy the same.
Some of the converter boxes like the DTVPal Plus have better tuner chips than others, so you may actually receive better signals than what you are right now, but it's not a sure thing. I've heard of the Magnavox converters freezing during channel scans before on this forum and others. Not sure if there's a fix for them.
 
#7
The magnavox box (their newer black model without the power button on side) is the best in my opinion. it picks up signals as weak as 18% without breaking up.

Dish's DTVPal Plus has one of the best EPGs, and a ok tuner, but the tuner requires a signal at or above 58% to keep a steady picture, and channels i watch a lot, like RTV and This-TV, don't work on that box since they're weaker than that. lately the Magnavox has reported they're at about 18% but it's watching them fine. even my new Samsung HDTV Tuner has trouble since it's tuner has the bar set rather high for a steady picture.

If you normally get good signals above 58% the Dish DTVPal should work for you. but i'd recommend, from my own experience from weak signals, that if your signals fluctuate at all (which boxes don't like, they usually peg red after enough fluctuations and i call that 'red zoning') or are less than ~50% the Apex and Magnavox work wonders. only the RCA DTA801 seems to suffer 'lock-ups' and software/ROM failures in my experience. it never picked up anything aside from PBS and was my first digital box. the worst IMO.

and do NOT use the batteries or the cables with push-on quick connects that normally come with the box. i'd recommend good higher quality gold-plated high quality coaxial cables and a brand name or good battery. the batteries that come for the remote are lousy and hardly work long, if at all. and the quick push on type cables cause a ton of signal fluctuations.
 
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#8
Thanks

Some of the converter boxes like the DTVPal Plus have better tuner chips than others, so you may actually receive better signals than what you are right now, but it's not a sure thing. I've heard of the Magnavox converters freezing during channel scans before on this forum and others. Not sure if there's a fix for them.

Yea on the freezing during the scan is usually where the borderline stations are, reason I say that is one time the scan will not show the channel the next time it will pick up the channel. I have gotten a signal as low as 15 would not be clear, usually at 18 or above it is pretty much stayable. Unless you are getting a direction and a relfected signal then the picture will freeze even up to 60 percent. Cause one signal will override the other signal but once you lock on the direct signal the problem is sloved. I know that the zentith digtal box works a little different than the magovox because it will show a strong signal on it when the magonovx will show a weaker signal. I guess it depends on how it rates the signal really. I would like to see a box that could detech a signal down to the point of almost nothing, heres want Im talking bout on the old anglog the signal would be coming in but it would have to be so strong in order the convert box to read it. I had it on a channel that was on the dtv and still on anlong well once the anlong signal got clear to a point then the digtal signal started coming in but if it fell below that point on anlog then the dtv singal would not come in. The station was producing the same power on both anlog and dtv at the time. Would like to see the dtv be so senctive that even the weakest signal would come in. I think going foward that is something convert box companys should look at as well as the tv companys ones that perduce the best tuner has the most sales on basic tv.
 

Eureka

DTVUSA Member
#9
Artec model numbers ending in "LL" have very good tuners for marginal/weak signals. I would suggest that one, if you find one available. Otherwise, another coupon-eligible box that is excellent is the DTVPal Plus. Costs a bit more, but you're getting $40 off, and it has a very sensitive tuner and excellent guide.

Don't buy a crappy RCA or Magnavox, unless you're sure you're getting a newer model Mag. If not sure, avoid them.
 

O-O

DTVUSA Member
#10
Artec model numbers ending in "LL" have very good tuners for marginal/weak signals. I would suggest that one, if you find one available. Otherwise, another coupon-eligible box that is excellent is the DTVPal Plus. Costs a bit more, but you're getting $40 off, and it has a very sensitive tuner and excellent guide.

Don't buy a crappy RCA or Magnavox, unless you're sure you're getting a newer model Mag. If not sure, avoid them.
You don't like the RCA DTA800B? I always thought they had pretty good tuners from what I've read of reviews.
 
#11
I bought an RCA DTA 800b from Wal-Mart in 2008, and it sucked. badly. it froze, said it found channels but then couldn't tune them, and i could only lock on a solid signal on PBS. it got really hot and was a fire hazard, and died eventually.

The worst gripe was when losing signal it would have a skipping audio effect instead of just blanking it out and was like listening to a scratched compact disc. that got annoying really quick.

The magnavox has worked fine since i got it. it picks up THIS-TV at 18% without breaking up and aside from a less-than-surprising guide, it works great. the picture quality is much clearer than the one from the DTVPal. the DTVPal Plus has a 'grainy' effect on CRTs. not sure on LCD/Plasma.

My problem with the DTVPal Plus and Zenith boxes is they hate fluctuations. usually due to weather or bad connections, any fluctuation up/down in excess of 10%, even if in the acceptable range of the signal meter (still in green but not hitting red) causes major breakups or occasional pixellations and/or loss of audio momentarily to the point of major frustration. and on the Zenith it would just peg red and go to 'No Signal' or a badly pixelated non-watchable frozen picture of what was last picked up even if it fluctuated in the acceptable range. it just pegged red until powered off and then back on.

Both those boxes seem to have trouble at 54% and below. if the Dish DTVPal dipped into 54% the picture broke up. sometimes it did so at 58-64%.

Their tuners require at least that. and the DTVPal doesn't have a very friendly signal meter for aiming your antenna. it's only on screen for a second when using the browse banner and the channel edit menu isn't too friendly for a new user, not even me.

My Samsung SIR-451 is the best of all though. although expensive (i got lucky it was at a flea market for $5) and while the bar for the tuner is set high (hard to get RTV to tune in, needs 60%+) it has the best guide i've seen. the guide is slow to update when bringing it up the first time the box is powered on, but it gives a picture of the currently tuned channel as you browse. it is a lot like the EPG on the DTVPal Plus but with the video window.

The Samsung can zoom any picture no matter what's broadcast. no letterboxing or windowboxing effects with no fix. even KET is fine. all 25" of my Console is there. the only gripe in that area is that you have to manually do it each time since it doesn't memorize nor does it apply it to all channels.

The only bad thing is the bar is set high on the meter and there's no power down option meaning it needs to be manually powered off. i don't like leaving any appliances on for no reason.
 
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NYCLA*

DTVUSA Member
#12
the DTVPal doesn't have a very friendly signal meter for aiming your antenna. it's only on screen for a second when using the browse banner and the channel edit menu isn't too friendly for a new user, not even me.
If you go into the setup menu and go into "Add a Channel" the signal meter will stay on screen for as long as you stay there while you adjust your antenna.
 
#13
Different views, as I read these reviews all I can say is everyone has a different opinon on the issue. I have noticed that the rca oveall has the worst reveiw followed by the magnovox then the zenith. I have a magnovox it performs well overall, dont know if the zenith or the dtv pal plus would pick up the weaker stations during the day or not. If i find one anywhere I will give it at a try at that time I will write a review. My mother has a zenith she has a lot of troulbe with weak stations during the day at nite she does just fine. Showing very strong signal at nite. I may end up taking my box to her house and trying to see if the magoxvox performs bout the same or if it performs worse. I know use to years ago on the old anlog zenith performed better than other tv on tuning in stations, while not a lot of difference they were a little cleaner than others.
 

Eureka

DTVUSA Member
#14
I replaced a friend's DTA800B with a Zenith DTT901, using the exact same antenna, coax, etc. The Zenith found and locked 2 additional channels that the RCA never could see. Another friend's RCA lasted about 3 or 4 months before dying. Also, the RCA does not have manual channel add. If you use a rotor, or indoor antenna that requires re-aiming, you'll never get all the channels.

The Zenith also has a metal case (may help shield from interference) and it runs cooler, so it should last longer. See this thread for more...
 
#15
The RCA runs wayy to hot to feel comfortable. as in it's a fire hazard and probably the main contributor to the short-lived life spand and also the software failures such as locking up or losing the date in favor of January 1980, which really ruins the guide.

While my Apex works well enough it's also running too hot and makes a whine that suggests it's about to die too, and i don't leave that one plugged in for fear my house may burn again. i had my home burn last Feb, not from a CECB but from electrical something. and i'm not taking my chances.
 

mcy919

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#16
Hey DTVuser2009, what is the model number of the Maganvox converter box that you said could pick up signals as low as 18%? I have the DTVPal Plus and I am very pleased with it, but I could deal with not having its cool features in exchange for more channels!
 
#17
I'll have to look again at the box when i get back home. i don't have internet at my home itself and have to travel to the nearest wi-fi hotspot or use my cell phone. and i prefer not to use the latter. i'll let you know. it's a different one. the previous ones had a 'mains power' on/off switch on the right hand side and most were grey in color. mine's black and no mains power.

Works fine with a Phillips Universal Remote using the code for Magnavox cable boxes.

it shows 18% and it goes anywhere from that to 24% on NBC/WX/THIS TV and works fine on RTV as low as 24% on VHF. the other channels come in at around 58-70% depending on factors such as wind/rain/etc. a lot of it's that low due to my UHF antenna being a second-rate retractable RV roof antenna which is part of my home. probably why i'm missing a channel.

Normally the box is at around 35-80% on its signal meter. the only gripe there is you have to wait for the signal meter to fully download. it starts at 0% and goes 5% every few seconds until it reaches its 'breaking point' and that's your signal. it allows TV viewing while the banner with signal meter is up. the signal meter/browse banner operates just like the one on the DTVPal Plus. the Guide only shows info for the currently tuned channel up to 24 hours in advance (depending on broadcast guide info, none of my boxes go farther than a few hours ahead)

I'll let you know. they're all over the place in Wal-Mart for $49.99. Wal-Mart stopped carrying the RCA boxes shortly after the new year.

*DISCLAIMER-The ability to pick up signals as low as 18% however is determined by more than the box. the antenna you use, the stations transmitted power and noise levels, the area you live in, etc.

The Magnavox and Apex boxes both work well and seem to outdo some of the more expensive boxes (sorry Samsung SIR-T451) because they can lock on extremely weak signals, but that is only from my personal experience using a UHF antenna for UHF channels and using a UHF/VHF splitter to enable the VHF channel(s) on a separate antenna. as usual the adage 'your mileage may vary' but at my end whatever the tuner is in my Magnavox it's outdoing the DTVPal Plus and Zenith. the Apex can pick up one other channel but only really late at night (@35% and due to tropo ducting)

According to the DTVPal Plus manual itself, it's listed that signals below 54% are weak. my experience is they breakup on that box at around 58% or below, depending on it either being VHF or UHF among other factors. the Magnavox is recommended for those having a consistant (never drops below point) of at least 24%. 18% is watchable but it can momentarily pixellate yet audio seems to hold up.

Just don't expect to pick up far away stations. that's the antenna's job, the box is only capable of using whatever is there. it won't magically give you 50 more channels. if only it were that easy to get my WAZE back lol!
 
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mcy919

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#18
Thanks for the reply. I've seen those Magnavox boxes at Walmart for $49.99 so I figured it might be that one. One of the main reasons why I think I might get one or two extra channels is because I temporarily ran a coax cable from my DTVPal Plus to the outside and took my antenna out there just to test it out. When I did, I was able to pick up two stations (one at 56-60% and the other slightly higher) that I get absolutely NO signal from on the inside. I've had the same experience as you where it usually starts to break up when it drops below 58%, although there have been rare occasions where it will hold steady at 54-56% and not break up. Anyway, I've tried the "Add New Channel" feature on the DTVPal Plus several times and the strength meter always stays at 0% on those two stations, so do you think it may not even be worth it to buy the Magnavox? If not for that reason, do you know if it allows you to override the Active Format Description flags sent by certain networks to automatically set the picture size (especially NBC)?
 
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#19
It won't hurt to try. i'd prefer using cash so you can get a refund if all else fails.

You'd be surprised how well an 'indoor' antenna works outdoors especially the un-amplified ones you get at Wal-Mart for $9.99. but in my case i cannot pickup VHF at all unless it's a separate antenna. VHF is 0% or too low to view on any box, including the Magnavox on a 'combo' antenna with the two rabbit ears and middle plastic element.

I have a problem with a push-on balun that is part of my splitter and part of my VHF antenna though. if i push the connector at the Samsung it goes from 5% to 80-100% but let go it's horrible. i recommend good quality screw on coax cable not the cheap push-on pull-off cheapies packaged with the box. and if you want your TV to work i recommend a cheap but good universal learning remote (the 'learning' assigns functions the remote and or box isn't compatible with such as Menu or Guide, normally not on most universal remotes) and GOOD Batteries. the cheap ones packaged with the remote and box are horrible. i had one of my two now-defunct Zenith boxes come with batteries which were leaking acid.
 

mcy919

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#20
I know what you mean about using an indoor antenna outdoors, although I've never picked up any VHF stations. I did that nearly every evening until recently and was able to pick up several distant stations at different times, including one that was 165 miles away but only lasted about 5 minutes. One evening I picked up one that was 147 miles away, which stayed on for quite a while and the signal strength even peaked around 75% at certain times. But, I haven't picked it up since then and it was a Spanish channel anyway!
 
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