Pros The converter box works well after one month of usage.
Cons The remote control unit malfunctioned after 1 month of use. Customer service refuses to replace the unit under the written warranty because they claim it is considered an accessory and is only covered for 90 days. It is 104 days since I bought it.
Summary If you read the warranty, it says that parts are guaranteed for 1 year from date of purchase. I would consider the remote control a "part" of the unit because it is necessary to set the unit up as well as reinstall the unit after being disconnected. Customer service has arbitrarily (without mention in the warranty in the "does not apply to" section) classified the remote control as an accessory and excluded the remote from the warranty for the converter box itself. In response to my warranty claim they stated that they would basically do customers a favor and provide "warranty coverage" for the remote for only 90 days. It seems to me they may know something may be wrong with these remotes and are limiting coverage of them.
"Buy This One"on by DixonAgee
Pros Great Picture and Sound. Great Signal Senstivity ( 60 miles away in my case). Auto-select aspect ratio. Universal Remote turns your TV on/off; Throw your other remote in the drawer. Remote works at wide angles. Quick 'Boot Up'. Cool looking.
Cons Remote buttons don't contrast a lot with the remote itself. Not a big deal.
Summary Let me tell you a little about myself and my setup. I?m in my 50?s. I have better than 20/20 corrected vision. According to my daughter I don?t always hear the turn signal blinker (it?s not very loud) ? but otherwise I think my hearing is typical for someone my age. I work as a scientist ? so tend to look at details ? but I also like to look at the big picture.
I have two TV?s ? a 32? Panasonic and a 20? Toshiba ? both more than 5 years old with good picture quality. The large TV is hooked up to an HD Tivo. I get my TV signal from a large TV antenna (probably 20 years old) mounted on the roof of my 2 story home. The nearest transmitter is about 22 miles away in Walnut Grove, CA. I can also get some signals from the SF Bay Area ? about 60 miles away.
I?ve read a lot of reviews of DTV converter boxes including the Consumer Reports review of the Tivax STB-T9 and Zenith DTT901. The Tivax and related DTV converter boxes got a slightly higher rating from CR based on a slightly better picture overall ? although the picture was slightly distorted. I?ve also looked at a large number of user reviews which gave high praise to the Zenith (and related Insignia). The Zenith reportedly has better low signal sensitivity than most. However in my opinion all reviewers are so focused on tiny differences in picture quality that they are overlooking features which in the long run make you glad ? or sorry ? that you bought the product.
Since I needed two boxes, I decided to get one of each. After looking at the performance of both boxes for a couple of weeks I?ve developed to a clear preference.
Picture Quality: Both boxes output excellent picture quality. I actually prefer the Zenith because the slight distortion of the Tivax is annoying until you?ve watched it for a couple of minutes. Both have a picture comparable to my TIVO box which is very good using the digital broadcasts. BTW ? the shielded cable output from the Zenith box is definitely better ? so remember this if your TV doesn?t take composite input.
Sound quality through TV speakers: Very good.
Signal sensitivity: Both boxes were more sensitive than my TIVO tuners ? the Tivax found Bay Area channels 4 and 9 without turning my antenna. The Zenith found channels 2 and 9. The Zenith was definitely better holding channel 9 (60 miles from the transmitter).
Other features: This is where the differences piled up. It is the small things that make you love or hate a product.
Boot up when turning the tuner on: Zenith was a little faster. Small delays are annoying in this fast-paced world. The initial channel scan on the Zenith is much faster than the Tivax ? but since this rarely used it probably is not a huge deal.
User guide: Both are limited. The Zenith can potentially provide guide information about more than one station ? but it appears you have to tune through all channels first so that it downloads the info. The Zenith shows this show and the next. The Tivax shows only one channel at a time but can give show you more hours ahead.
Remote: Both are well organized and easy to use. The Tivax is more colorful and the buttons are easily seen against a silver background ? but I had no trouble using either. Direct input of channels: The Zenith responded with a list of channels, e.g. 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 if you entered a 6 ? so you could scroll to choose. Not a big deal, but kind of nice. The Tivax required you to enter the whole channel or would pick the first in the list if you took too long.
But the Zenith remote blew the Tivax out of the water with two big differences. First, the Zenith has a universal remote feature to turn your TV on and off. With this feature you can toss your TV remote in the drawer. Without it you need two remotes to control the TV and converter box. Second, the Zenith can be controlled by its remote from a wide range of angles. The Tivax control had to be pointed directly at it. In brief, the Zenith makes it feel like you don?t have an extra appliance where the Tivax constantly reminds you that you do.
So sit back and get the Zenith. The picture will be great, you?ll be able to throw your old remote in the drawer, and you won?t go crazy re-pushing buttons because you didn?t point the remote exactly right.
Pros Best in picture quality by far superior over GE
Best in signal strength. We were able to receive a station's signal 72 miles away using a standard "rabbit ear" antenna.
Quick response time in changing channels and in set-up. Supurb over competitors
Cons None whatsoever
Summary We purchased GE converter boxes through Target in early August. I was unable to receive KIXE, our local PBS station, which is 72 miles from where we live. I contacted the broadcast engineer at the station, Tod
Waite, and he said it was most likely our ?rabbit ear? indoor antenna
and the solution would be to move our antenna away from the TV and up as
high as possible, or to buy a big outdoor antenna and either place it on
our roof or in our attic. We moved our antenna outside up on our 12'
ladder and it still did not come in. We were able to see KIXE, but the
signal was far too weak to view it without constant interruption of the
transmission. We were about to purchase a huge outdoor antenna, in hopes
of receiving channel 9 again, then we thought of the cost of the antenna
and all the time it would take to set it up on the roof, and we decided
that Basic Cable at $15.50 a month would be more cost effective.
Before we went to cable, which we did not want to pay for and never had to
before, I did research on converter boxes and found out that they are not
all alike! The Zenith DTT901 rated the best in picture quality a well as
signal strength, so I went to Radio Shack and purchased one for $59.00. I
already used the $40 coupons for the GE converter boxes so I had to pay
full price. We did not expect to receive KIXE on our indoor antenna placed
right over the TV set, because Tod Waite of KIXE said that we are in the
worst transmission area in Chico with the foothills blocking our signal
and we most likely had to get a roof top antenna.
I am overjoyed to say that the Zenith DTT901 converter box, sold at both
Circuit City and Radio Shack, solved the problem alone. We plugged it in
and scanned for channels and there it was all three KIXE channel 9
stations came in great! The power is at 60% and the signal is clear and
works wonderfully. All other stations we receive are at 100% power,
including channel 7 which is also located in Redding, and I am sure that
if we ever do get a roof top antenna or place one in our attic, that KIXE
would also be received at 100% power, but for now with a basic indoor
antenna right over our TV set, we are able to receive KIXE perfectly.
I believe that I have found one of the only options,
other then paying for DISH or Cable, and it is as simple as the right
converter box. Living in the worst
reception area 72 miles from the station, I can pick it up clearly with my
old "rabbit ear" antenna on top of my TV set with the correct converter
box. We love this converter box and want everyone to know they are not all made equally and without the right box, not even the most powerful antenna will help get the signal strength.
Pros Power and Channel on/off keys on box
Ability to turn TV on/off from the remote
Fast Channel Changing
Cons Programming guide could be better but typicaly when I am surfing what's on and what's next is all I need anyway.
Volume changes input volume not actual TV volume like the RCA
Summary Based on the CNET reviews I originally wanted to buy the DTVPAL, but once I found out it was not energy star compliant and could not control the TV power it fell out of favor with me. I then decided I was going to buy the RCA. I liked the ability to control the actual TV volume with the remote control and the ability to see all of the channels on the programming guide at one time. Then I read all of the reviews of people having problems with them failing. Since I was planning on storing this box until I need it in February and the fact that the warranty is only 90 days I decided not to take that chance. That coupled with the cheap plastic look, no aspect ratio button on the remote and CNET saying they thought the Zenith had slightly better reception led me to choose the Zenith.
While I have no other DTV converters to compare it to, I do have an HDTV converter. I live in the Chicago area and anyone else who lives here knows Channel 2 is notoriously weak. My HDTV converter will pick up channel 2 sometimes but more often than not it breaks up or has no signal. The Zenith DTT901 has been solid on channel 2. Also my HDTV box is very slow changing channels. The DTT901 is much faster.
I still have one more coupon left and I will be using it on another Zenith DTT901.
Pros good reception, works better than my HDTV digital receiver
Cons Weak program guide
Summary This is the converter box for you if:
* Receiving as many channels as possible is important to you
* You want to receive localized analog signals as well as digital
* You want a "for emergencies" box.
This box has an excellent receiver. It is very sensitive and picks up many channels wonderfully (with a "rabbit ear" antenna alone). I have a digital HDTV as well - and have a wire going up to the roof. The Zenith DTV converter box receives the channels better. When I mean better, I mean it works better with lower signal strength. Channel 4 is jerky, freezes up with the HDTV. But with my old 13" standard tv, the zenith DTV converter works better - no jerkiness with a much inferior antenna (rabbit ear).
With digital, it's an all or nothing proposition. If you have enough signal, you get a picture. If you don't, you get no picture. It's the catch 22 of digital. I have found this box can receive non-jerky signals with a minimum of about 40% signal strength. This is pretty good compared to others I have seen. It can go slightly lower (depending upon the channel) - but it gets jerky when it hits under around 35%.
There is one downside to this box - the program guide is mediocre. You have to turn to a channel range before the program guide "fills in" with program data - so it's great to find out what's on next on the channel you're watching - but horrible for figuring out which channel you want to watch next. If you're a channel-flipper like me though, this isn't much of a problem.
The pass though feature works great. I have read reports that some people are having difficulty with this feature. It works only when the box is in the off mode, and only on the older coaxial cable - not the 3 RCA composite cables. So if you are using the RCA cables, you will not get pass though capability. It ONLY works using the older coaxial cable.
The remote buttons are slightly on the conservative side when it comes to size. The buttons don't bother me, but the buttons may be difficult for older folks.
Get this box if you want the most channels, with as few with a jerky picture as possible. It has a sensitive receiver and is most likely to work in the event of an emergency. You can buy this box off-line at some Circuit City stores. Check their website to find the closest store to you that carries them.
Don't get this box if you can't live without a concrete channel program guide, or are elderly and need big remote control buttons.