"Buy This One"4.5 starson 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.