Zenith DTT901 DTV converter (replaces DTT900)

Sparks

DTVUSA Member
#1
The Zenith DTT901 digital to analog tuner or converter, is as far as I know the same as the DTT900 other than the 901 also has the analog pass through feature. Analog pass through will allow the viewer to see the low power repeater stations that are not going to change to digital. You can do that without having to flip any switches or change any wires to go from digital stations to analog stations and back. Analog pass through makes the installation much easier if you want both analog and digital capability, even if you do not need both you may later.

If you are considering your first DTV converter or if you have never used one, this means that all of the digital channels that come through your converter box would be viewed on your channel 3 or you can select channel 4 if that is your preference. When you turn off the converter box that has the “Analog Pass Through” feature, you can now view your analog channels as you always have with the analog tuner that is built into the TV set. As you probably already know; when most of the analog channels are turned off in February 09. There will still be some low power TV stations that will continue to transmit on the analog channels as always in some areas.

This Zenith brand name box that is marketed by LG Electronics is the one that is my personal preference of all of the DTV boxes that I have installed or used. It is easy to hook up and very simple to get through the initial channel scan and begin watching digital TV. It also has the “EZ Add” feature that makes it easy to add additional channels without losing the channels that you already have it set to receive. It comes with a 22 page booklet of installation and operating instructions. The Zenith box has a toll free phone number on the top of the converter box itself and on the front of the operating instructions, for assistance with connection or operation of the box.

The DTT901 has all of the typical features such as closed captioning, parental controls and ratings with a feature for operator generated password protection so that you can lock out certain channels or whatever. The 901 is energy star rated. It includes the feature to turn itself off after a preset period of time. It can also be set to stay on until it is manually turned off. The front of the converter box has an on/off indicator light and switch. It also has the channel selection switches on the front. It is possible to turn it on and change channels if the remote control is damaged or misplaced. The rear of the box is ready for connection with antenna wire connection. It also has the RCA type audio and video connections on the back of the box. The RCA type connector wire is also included. It has the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) feature for the channel that you are viewing at the time. It will give ratings, program name and description of the program that you are watching and the next upcoming program on the channel that is being viewed. The EPG will only function if the station that you are viewing transmits that information.

All of these settings and more is available by simply pressing the ‘Menu’ button on the remote control. The Menu is easy to follow and navigate with directions at the bottom of the screen. It is much easier to do it than it is to explain it.

The RCA type connections could be used if you’re TV or VCR is equipped with the RCA type connections. This would allow for a video signal to your TV or VCR in place through the antenna wire. The RCA connections also provide for a connection to a stereo TV, VCR or sound systems.

If you are not familiar with the use of the RCA type connections then do not let it confuse the issue. A simple hookup with the antenna wire only is sufficient for a good picture and easy hook up. I only mention the RCA connections because they are a feature of this and of most if not all digital to analog converter boxes.

A nice feature is the “Zoom” button on the remote control. This button allows you to instantly change the picture size and shape to fit the program you are watching. Changing the size and shape will normally be done automatically if the program being viewed has the information for this feature available on that transmission. It automatically works only when the TV station is broadcasting that information to your digital tuner. When this information is not available it is very handy to use the remote controls zoom feature (as Zenith calls it) to quickly adjust the picture yourself. This feature is not available on the remote control of all brands of converter boxes.

The remote control can also be used to turn the TV set on and off if the TV can be operated by remote control. This may not apply to all TV sets. It should work with most of them. The remote can also be used to control the volume through the converter box not through the TV set. This makes it handy if your TV cannot be operated with a remote control.

A signal strength meter can also be turned on and off with the remote control. This meter is handy for finding the optimum antenna aiming to the TV tower that you are viewing. The complete DTT901 specs can be viewed on the Zenith web site at; (double click to view) Zenith - Converter Box - Digital TV Tuner Converter Box with Analog Pass-Through

The Zenith DTV converter box is the easiest to setup and operate of any of the converter boxes and digital tuners that I have installed and used. It has also been reliable and has never lost or forgot a channel that it is set to receive as I have seen with some other DTV boxes and tuners. This is also one of the boxes with a tuner that does an excellent job of pulling in the weak and/or distant channels and it also produces a good quality picture.

To answer a question that often comes up. This or any digital converter box will allow the viewer to see a high definition or HD program. You will not see it as high definition and the picture will be shorter that normal so that the height of the picture will be in proportion the width of the picture that is being viewed on the analog TV. That is because the HD screen and HD programs are always in a wide screen format. It is still a very good digital picture.

Of the converter boxes that I have seen or used this is the one that I would recommend to anyone. It does everything that I need for it to do. The Channel Master Converter box has a more complete electronic program guide. That is more than offset by the Zenith analog pass through feature and the stable channel retention of this Zenith unit.

This is the same box that you may have seen hooked up on PBS. A couple of the guys from the This Old House program are doing a program in a one half hour spot on the Digital TV Transition. I caught one mistake that they made. At one point one of them said that you cannot see a High Defection or HDTV program with the converter box and an analog TV. I think that was just is mistake of wording on that script that they followed. As I mentioned two paragraphs ago, you can in fact view a HD program with probably any brand converter box on the traditional analog TV.

Once you have decided what brand and model of converter box to buy. If the one that you want is not readily available, do some more research before you buy the brand that is more convenient to find. Some of my neighbors asked what they should get. I gave them the choices of what will be best for them in their situation in this area. They did not find the ones that were suggested and they just bought what was on the shelf. I do not mind if they do not want the brand and model that I prefer. It is their loss since they ended up with converter boxes that will not even work on some days. Make an educated buying decision since it will cost little if any more to have a DTV converter box that works properly.
 
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#2
Good review sparks is the insignia box identical to the zenith or is there a difference, I have one to setup for a friend, hope since they are both made by LG it will be as easy.:)
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#3
This is the dtv box I went with too. Great review Sparks. My only complaint with this converter is the program guide. I would have preferred more information about future shows on the channel I'm watchings. Other than that, it seems to work pretty good, probably won't get much use until January when I figure out if I need to cancel my Direct TV service or not. :(
 

divxhacker

DTVUSA Member
#4
Zoom availability

A nice feature is the “Zoom” button on the remote control. This button allows you to instantly change the picture size and shape to fit the program you are watching. Changing the size and shape will normally be done automatically if the program being viewed has the information for this feature available on that transmission. It automatically works only when the TV station is broadcasting that information to your digital tuner.
Actually the ZOOM function only works on 1080i and 720p channels. On channels that use 480i, you will get this "Aspect ratio cannot be changed" error, because if you zoomed it, it wouldn't look pretty. Also, zooming a 480i channel is supposed to be a feature for HDTVs, letterboxing the video, something that is not allowed in CECB's.
 
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divxhacker

DTVUSA Member
#5
Zenith DTT901 Circuit Examinations

Whoo! I was able to get my hands on this when I switched this with a Zinwell as it works well with that particular TV's built-in VCR. Instead of copying word-for-word info from a competing website, and I had the unit in hand, I opened it up.

The circuitboard has two parts. On the left is the power circuit, It has a ribbon cable that connects to a socket in the 901's mainboard. Unlike the DTT900, the 901's power connector is removable - making upgrading the firmware less cumbersome when needed.

The mainboard has two numbers on it, one of them has "LSX300-4PM" which is also mentioned on a competing forum.

The Tuner is an LG EBL38878103 This is a newer tuner that makes the unit's analog pass-thru function work.

The CPU is an LGDT1111T Online info says its a 200 Mhz ARM CPU with Java facilities, little other info about it - it's probably an exclusive in-house chip

The software is on a MX T075220 / 29LV160CTTC-70 Flash chip

The work memory is a Quimonda HYB25DC256163CE-5 16-bit 256 MBs chip

There are two open connectors.

One set is a 10-point line of empty posts by the power supply. This could most likely be a service power connection. Power fed into here would turn the unit on in programming mode - the data fed in through the infrared port. Yeah, kinda slow, but I know a couple of devices that still get programmed this way. The manufacturer probably has a device that does the programming of the mainboard in this fashion.

The other one is quite very curious. It almost fooled me as an integrated circuit, until I examined the top surface depression up close. Shining a light right on top revealed a thin 4-lead ribbon connector slot. Its proximity to the RGB video output hints that this is a YUV connector for HDTVs. Of course, there is no hardware currently connected to it, but can be easily upgraded by a replacement bottom plate, YUV connector piece, thin cable, and a screw to hold it in. The zoom function would have to be edited on the firmware to allow letterboxing of 480i programs.

There you have it. More info than the competitors - I checked.
 

jbondi

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#6
I just bought one of these yesterday at Circuit City and I must say that I am impressed. I have the Channel Master DTV converter and aside from the font being too small on the Channel Master, these 2 DTV converters seem to be the best I've seen. I'm returning the Magnavox DTV converter since it is basically a door stop! It does not compare to the Zenith or Channel Master.
 

Jason Fritz

Administrator
Staff member
#7
Whoo! I was able to get my hands on this when I switched this with a Zinwell as it works well with that particular TV's built-in VCR. Instead of copying word-for-word info from a competing website, and I had the unit in hand, I opened it up.

The circuitboard has two parts. On the left is the power circuit, It has a ribbon cable that connects to a socket in the 901's mainboard. Unlike the DTT900, the 901's power connector is removable - making upgrading the firmware less cumbersome when needed.

The mainboard has two numbers on it, one of them has "LSX300-4PM" which is also mentioned on a competing forum.

The Tuner is an LG EBL38878103 This is a newer tuner that makes the unit's analog pass-thru function work.

The CPU is an LGDT1111T Online info says its a 200 Mhz ARM CPU with Java facilities, little other info about it - it's probably an exclusive in-house chip

The software is on a MX T075220 / 29LV160CTTC-70 Flash chip

The work memory is a Quimonda HYB25DC256163CE-5 16-bit 256 MBs chip

There are two open connectors.

One set is a 10-point line of empty posts by the power supply. This could most likely be a service power connection. Power fed into here would turn the unit on in programming mode - the data fed in through the infrared port. Yeah, kinda slow, but I know a couple of devices that still get programmed this way. The manufacturer probably has a device that does the programming of the mainboard in this fashion.

The other one is quite very curious. It almost fooled me as an integrated circuit, until I examined the top surface depression up close. Shining a light right on top revealed a thin 4-lead ribbon connector slot. Its proximity to the RGB video output hints that this is a YUV connector for HDTVs. Of course, there is no hardware currently connected to it, but can be easily upgraded by a replacement bottom plate, YUV connector piece, thin cable, and a screw to hold it in. The zoom function would have to be edited on the firmware to allow letterboxing of 480i programs.

There you have it. More info than the competitors - I checked.
Now that's an in-depth look. ;) I wonder if one could hack one of these boxes to add a component output or even HDMI...

I like the Zenith for more than any other box as well, the digital tuner in it is stronger than the built-in tuner in my Mitsubishi LCD HDTV.
 
#8
Hi All,
I'm volunteering for the United Way to help people that need assistance with their DTV converters. Today I was helping someone who has a Zenith DTT 901 and ran into a problem. The channel out default for the Zenith is channel 3. We have a channel 3 station here in Omaha, and the broadcast was completely drowning out the signal from the converter. I can't see the menu at all. On top of that, I couldn't find the spot in the manual that tells me how to do it. I called the help line so that someone could tell me where the instructions are at in the manual. To switch the channel output I have to go through the menu blind. When I visit him again, I'll have to try bringing a better cable that might shield the channel 3 signal better.
 
#12
About the Zoom, although some channels seem to give the error "Aspect Ratio Cannot be Changed on this Channel' it happens most often if you're TV mode setting (selectable from 4:3 normal or 16:9 widescreen) is opposed to the broadcast.

For example, if you're viewing a 4:3 broadcast on a mode set at 4:3 (which seems appropriate for a standard television) it won't zoom. sometimes if your standard TV is large enough, like 19" or bigger, some broadcasts will appear 'windowboxed' in the dead-center and won't expand to fill the screen. the fix is to go into MENU--->OPTIONS, and TV type, and select '16:9 widescreen', and return to TV viewing, and then attempt zoom, and it will expand to fill the screen with no noticeable loss of quality. the same rule applies if you're selected at 16:9 widescreen and it's a 16:9 picture showing up and won't zoom and you're letterboxed (top and bottom has black bars) set the TV for 4:3 standard and re-attempt zoom. will work fine. kinda stupid but that's the only way you'll have a full-screen on some broadcasts.
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#13
About the Zoom, although some channels seem to give the error "Aspect Ratio Cannot be Changed on this Channel' it happens most often if you're TV mode setting (selectable from 4:3 normal or 16:9 widescreen) is opposed to the broadcast.

For example, if you're viewing a 4:3 broadcast on a mode set at 4:3 (which seems appropriate for a standard television) it won't zoom. sometimes if your standard TV is large enough, like 19" or bigger, some broadcasts will appear 'windowboxed' in the dead-center and won't expand to fill the screen. the fix is to go into MENU--->OPTIONS, and TV type, and select '16:9 widescreen', and return to TV viewing, and then attempt zoom, and it will expand to fill the screen with no noticeable loss of quality. the same rule applies if you're selected at 16:9 widescreen and it's a 16:9 picture showing up and won't zoom and you're letterboxed (top and bottom has black bars) set the TV for 4:3 standard and re-attempt zoom. will work fine. kinda stupid but that's the only way you'll have a full-screen on some broadcasts.
OK man, +1 for you on this one, and I'll give you another 1 tomorrow if you can tell me how to do a full zoom on my direcTV unit. ;) (Hint: It's not possible, but I wish it was)
 
#14
Sorry, my love for satellite TV died off with Dish Network. heaven forbid i'd attempt the oddball system that DirecTV uses (hint, it requires THREE dishes!!! WHY?)

Dish Network's receivers had no such option at all, it was normally formatted correctly from the start where all channels filled the screen from the get-go. it'd be neat on the DTV converters though if they were able to zoom no matter what, set it a certain way and it automatically zooms as far as it'd go regardless of TV type or channel mode.
 
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Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#15
Sorry, my love for satellite TV died off with Dish Network. heaven forbid i'd attempt the oddball system that DirecTV uses (hint, it requires THREE dishes!!! WHY?)

Dish Network's receivers had no such option at all, it was normally formatted correctly from the start where all channels filled the screen from the get-go. it'd be neat on the DTV converters though if they were able to zoom no matter what, set it a certain way and it automatically zooms as far as it'd go regardless of TV type or channel mode.
The only problem I see with full zoom is the fact that, depending on how much the picture is magnified, it creates a bit of distortion. I wish movie studios and TV studios would record in 2 seperate format's. I guess with production costs already being high enough as it is, this isn't possible, but it's damn annoying to see black bars on my TV sometimes. Especially with Blu-Ray DVD's too.
 
#16
if you have a 4:3 TV (normal non-HDTV) and it's got bars, set it for widescreen and re-attempt zoom (same with your blu-ray player or DVD). if you have a widescreen with bars and you cannot zoom, try setting the blu-ray/DVD or converter to 4:3 standard def and try again with zoom. sadly that's the only way. it may have to be done back and forth depending on the broadcast or disc but so far that's the only way i can get the bars gone. my TVs are all older CRTs, one's a 19" TV/VCR and the other is a 1991 TouchTune 25" TV. and zooming even in widescreen mode results in no perceiveable quality drop. but then i cannot perceive non-HD and HD anyways, save for the terrible standard def picture on most HDTVs. grainy as hell.

Put a 25" console with a SD digital picture next to a 45" widescreen with a HD picture, i cannot see the difference. someone tested me at Best Buy and asked me if i could see the difference in HD, i said "the screen's bigger" much to the guy's disappointment.
 
#17
Put a 25" console with a SD digital picture next to a 45" widescreen with a HD picture, i cannot see the difference. someone tested me at Best Buy and asked me if i could see the difference in HD, i said "the screen's bigger" much to the guy's disappointment.
You can't tell the difference between 480p and 1080i or 1080p??? :eek: Shame! Just kidding, but words cannot describe how much better movies look in 1080p!
 
#18
I'm sorry. i have 20/20 vision and perfect color vision and i just cannot perceive it.

If you stuck two HDTVs side-by-side, one with 1080i blu-ray disc with HDMI hookup and another with 1080p and the same setup, nope, no diff.

Stick a digital (and good reception) quality DTV signal on a 25" console and then stick a HDTV with a 1080p, nope. the screen's bigger that's about it. although it's true that HDTVs have higher resolution so obviously using anything other than HD or a connection other than HDMI or DVI (say use only RF-in) and yea, the picture sucks. but on my SDTVs, even if the signal is whatever, it looks fine. no sucky down-convert and no need to use HD since all pictures are nice (And the black levels are on par, something that even today LCDs fall behind on)
 
#19
I use a DTT900 on an old TiVo Series 2 with my old SDTV. In the Options, I have "TV Aspect Ratio" set to "Normal TV (4:3)" and I *want* to set "Aspect Ratio" to "Letter Box." The latter is because if I set it to "Set By Program," it often gets it wrong and my TiVo records a letterbox program in 4:3, chopping-off the left & right areas. Grrrr! My problem is that the "Aspect Ratio" set to "Letter Box" will not stick, and the next time it changes channels, it goes back to "Set By Program" and often fails to record in letterbox. I guess that reflects most of my local broadcast stations all-too-often falling asleep at the switch with their AFD (Active Format Description). And on some channels, it won't let me change the "Aspect Ratio" setting (or the "Zoom" on the remote control) at all. How can I make my DTT900 permanently display in letterbox?
 
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