cheapest tv converter box by theydont


									                                         DTV Converters
                                        Which One To Buy?
                             By Gene Harlan - WB9MMM Email:
                                                                  5931 Alma Dr.
What is the digital transition?                              Rockford, IL 61108
Beginning February 17, 2009, the government is requiring that          but it was worth it. For fringe reception it can't be beat. Teamed
digital over-the-air broadcasts replace analog broadcasts.             it with a Winegard AP 8780 Chromstar 2000 preamp (28db gain
                                                                       on UHF and 17 on VHF). Zenith must be sure of this box be-
What does that mean? After February 17, 2009, analog TVs will          cause they even resurrected their old slogan on the shipping box
no longer be able to receive programming unless their owners          "The Quality Goes In Before the Name Goes On".
do one of the following:                                               ____________________________________________

1. Subscribe to a satellite or cable TV service                     I have been looking over my choices for a digital-TV converter
2. Purchase a digital-to-analog converter box                       box and found that most of them seem to be using an LG decoder
3. Purchase a new digital TV                                        chip. Specifically, the LGDT1111D decoder is used with a Sanyo
                                                                    UBA800AL tuner in the Zenith DTT900, Insignia NS-DXA1,
Well, by now you may have your $40 coupons from the govern-         Microprose MPI-500 and Digital Stream DTX9900 and I suppose
ment (if not go to ). Pay attention to     the `9950 also. This latter also has analog pass through. The Ze-
the fact that they expire after 90 days. Now, which one to buy?     nith, Insignia and Microprose also come out of the LG factory.
                                                                    An advantage of the DTX9900 is that it has a universal remote,
I started my research by paying attention to what others were say- which might come in handy. Apparently the Sanyo tuner is the
ing on different forums. These comments do not reflect my           most sensitive, though some boxes are using an LG TDVG-
thoughts, only the writers. Some comments that I ran across:        HD51F tuner or MicroTune MT2131. Also it would seem that
__________________________________________                          the Magnavox TB100MG9, which also uses the Sanyo tuner, may
                                                                    be the same as the Philco TB100HH9, as they are both made by
RCA Model DTA800B1                                                  Funai. At this point I am considering buying the Zenith from Cir-
                                                                    cuit City, Insignia from Best Buy, or Digital Stream from Radio
Has anyone tried this convertor box yet?                            Shack. They all have pretty good user review and sell for the
                                                                    same $59.99. Will let y'all know what happens.
Some of our "older" viewership stated that this thing is located at ___________________________________________
Wally World ( Walmart ) for $49.99.
                                                                    Tonight I saw the future, and my eyes were opened to the impact.
He wanted to know how it worked before he went to buy it.
                                                                      A buddy who works for the nuclear industry has been interested in
He was still mad that he will have to pay $10.00 bucks for it too .   computers since high school, and ham radio in only the
Since 27 years ago he paid $2200.00 for his TV. It's ridiculous       past three years.
that he had to pay to watch television .....
___________________________________________                            I looked inside his Honda Element, and found his 2-meter ham
                                                                       transceiver and a GPS on the dash. Between the seats I found that
I haven't personally tried the RCA, but others have reported it as     $49 DTV converter from Walmart. He's managed to run AC at
being inferior. Stay away from Wally World, go to Circuit City         400 watts in the vehicle using a converter, and he's managed to
or Radio Shack and pick up a Zenith DTT900, which I have per-          get his scanner antenna to also feed the coax 'IN' of his DTV con-
sonally tested. I've also tested the Channel Master CM-7000. It        verter. The GPS monitor has a video 'IN' on the back... and
has S-video output as well as composite and RF outputs, the Ze-        voila...13 channels of TV, full-quieting, in his car!
nith just has RF and composite video outputs. RF wise, the per-
formance of the Zenith and the Channel Master are identical. The The audio comes in through his stereo system in the Element, and
electronic program guide in the Zenith only shows the current and he's a properly trained storm chaser, and uses the DTV radar imag-
next program, the Channel Master shows the current and the next es off a Green Bay station, to track storms real time!
three shows. The remote control on the Zenith can be set up to
turn the power on and off on most common TV sets, the Channel No ghosts, no cut-outs. 37 miles from the TV towers. Pretty im-
Master remote can only control the converter box.                  pressive, and somebody's going to miniaturize this into one pack-
___________________________________________                        age soon, I can only imagine.

Just had good luck with the newest Zenith Digital Converter Box, Mark Heller CBRE
Model DTT901, with analog feed through and a manufacture              WTRW Inc. WGBW Radio
date of April 2008. It's eligible with the coupon, but is hard to get Two Rivers, WI
due to it's popularity. I had to special order it and pay full price,

                                Amateur Television Quarterly           Page 1
 I apologize if this message is an annoyance, but the likelihood       The satellite TV people are being given 4 years to get the satellite
 that this group is populated by cheap SOBs that don't have cable      signals converted, and that's a while.
 (like me) and who are geeky enough to have researched this
 ahead of me is too high to pass up the group as a source of infor-    I'm also on a cable system, and in a complex where we aren't al-
 mation. If this is too much of an annoyance, please forgive me        lowed dishes or antennas, and while the cable people say "don't
 and delete it as deemed appropriate.                                  worry about it", they haven't done anything about it yet, and we
                                                                       have 2 TV channels available who have converted, but they still
The question is, which is the best (in your opinion) Digital TV        come through in analog. They'd have to convert each channel
Broadcast to Analog TV Converter box/device to get?                    input at the cable "head" with a converter box, or swap receivers,
                                                                       and it hasn't happened.
 I have already found this wiki:                 We'll see what happens in the end!

 From which I have selected the Philco TB150HH9 and RCA                Dick, CET (I'm licensed TV tech!!)
 DTA800B1 as the most likely candidates because that have              _________________________________________
"smart antenna" feature (and how can that be bad, what ever it
 means) and analog pass through (and how can that be bad, what      I chose the Artec T3A Pro for one reason. It has a "barrel" type 12
 ever it means).                                                    vdc power outlet and the transformer is 500 ma. One of these is
                                                                    going into the Jeep project as a video source for the two LCD
So, by best, I mean most cool features and highest sensitivity tun- ATV monitors. I was not able to find any other brand that had a
er (you were getting analog broadcasts with snow but now the        DC input.
digital channel is crystal clear AND you are getting channels you
never even heard of before).                                        They work great! Now to design a full time antenna for the Jeep.
Oh, and if its immune to TVI, that would be good to.
                                                                    Another place I found information was
Also, if you know where your recommendation can be purchased, . Search on "DTV converter box"
please indicate said QTH. Walmart is rumored to have an RCA and you will find about 63 hits. Look for the article entitled "DTV
DTA800 (however, I suspect this to be a dumber sibling of the B1 converters: Results of our tests of 14 models."
unit mentioned above) and in any event, the 2 Walmart branches I ______________________________________________
went to over the past few days are sold out.
                                                                       And Now, The ATVQ Tests
 My $40 government coupon is burning a hole in my pocket. So,
 your prompt assistance will be appreciated by me AND my over          So, after reading all the emails, what did I buy?
 worked tailor (since I'm off the Atkins, there has been a lot of --
 let these out a bit-- type work)                                      I liked the idea of running the converter in the vehicle and decid-
                                                                       ed to get the Artec T3A Pro since it had the 12 volt power plug
 73 WS8E                                                               along with the idea that a couple mention that reception is pretty
 ______________________________________________                        good in a vehicle.
 First a comment.. This subject DOES impact ham radio, for in a        The second one I got was the DTVPal by Dish Network. I thought
 larger city with multiple Digital TV stations, which are normally     it also had the 12 volt plug in the back (I had asked if it had a wall
"megawatt" stations, the noise floor for VHF repeater inputs rises     wart, and it did), but the wall wart that came with was 5 volt and a
 accordingly, for digital pulses are full of spectrum noise!           special plug. It also had analog pass through.
 In Portland, Oregon with channels 2, 6, 8, 10, and 12, and not all    So on with the features and the reviews.
 converted yet, it rose 20db! This translates out to a factor of
 some 120 times the original noise!
                                                                       DTVPal by Dish Network
To answer your "which is best" question, so far I've checked Wal-
mart and they carry only 2 kinds, and their site has customer reac- Taking this unit out of the box, I found the converter, 5 volt wall
tions to what they think of each one!!                              wart, cable with F connectors, remote control with batteries, and
                                                                    the instruction book.
Also, be advised that for each conventional analog channel num-
ber, there will be 4 sub channels! Thus, channel 2 dash 1, dash 2, Upon first power up it leads you to an automatic scan. I had not
dash 3, and dash 4! And in place of the square analog picture, it   pointed the outside antenna to the local stations which would be
will be rectangular, by a 4 high, and by 7 wide factor.             East, but left it where it was pointed North. Was I amazed. Not
                                                                    only did it pick up the local stations, but many out of Madison,
However, putting a Digital TV PCI card in your computer will the    WI as well. What it found were (antenna first pointed North and
same thing!!                                                        then towards Chicago):

                                 Amateur Television Quarterly           Page 2
                                                                    Parental controls
                                                                    Block programs you deem inappropriate based on rating or chan-

                                                                    Stereo audio output
                                                                    Enjoy enhanced sound when connected to your stereo TV

                                                                    Setup Wizard
                                                                    Automatic channel selection and easy setup

057-01 WBUW-HD
047-01 WMSN-TV
044-01 WSNS-DT
039-01 WQRF-DT
032-01 WFLD-DT
027-01 WKOW-DT
023-02 WIFR-Wx
023-01 WIFR-HD
021-05 WHA-HD
021-04 WPT4
021-03 WPT3
021-02 WPT2
021-01 WPT1
017-02 My Netw
017-01 WTVO-DT
015-02 WMTV-SD                                                      Rear Panel Features
015-01 WMTV-HD
013-02 TheCW                                                        • 1 ATSC antenna input for over-the-air digital broadcasts
013-01 WREX-DT                                                      • External power supply (”wall wart”)
005-02 NBC5WX                                                       • A/V connections:
005-01 NBC5-DT                                                        1 set RCA-type audio/video outputs
003-02 MyMad                                                          1 channel 3-4 modulated output
003-01 WISC-DT

Features claimed by the DTVPal are:                                 The Artec T3A-PRO
Analog pass-through                                                 Then I hooked up the second one I bought, the Artec T3A-PRO
Switch between digital and analog channels with the push of a       and got the following stations:

On-screen program guide
See what’s showing on every channel with the FREE on-screen
program guide

Event timer
Set a timer to turn your DTVPal on and tuned to the desired chan-
nel before your favorite show starts playing

Programming search
Search by name for the shows you want to watch

Alternative audio
Receive second audio feed in alternate language (broadcaster de-

Easily turn on closed captions using your DTVPal remote control

                              Amateur Television Quarterly           Page 3
057-01 WBUW-HD                                                    Signal Quality Indicator
047-01 WMSN-TV                                                    Sleep Mode For Power Saving
044-01 WSNS-DT                                                    Stereo Analog Audio Output
039-01 WQRF-DT                                                    Multi-Language Support
032-01 WFLD-DT                                                    Compact and Stylish Design
027-01 WKOW-DT                                                    Extra function Key (CH up/down, VOL up/down)
023-02 WIFR-Wx                                                    Full Operation by Remote Control
023-01 WIFR-HD
017-02 My Netw                                                    Tuner
017-01 WTVO-DT                                                    Input Terminal: Female 75 Ohm F-Type Connector
015-02 WMTV-SD
015-01 WMTV-HD                                                    Receiving
013-02 TheCW                                                      Frequency: 57 ~ 861 MHz
013-01 WREX-DT                                                    RF Channel: 2~69
003-02 MyMad                                                      Bandwidth: 6 MHZ
003-01 WISC-DT                                                    Demodulator 8VSB

Notice that it did not pick up channel 5 NBC out of Chicago and   Video Processing
channel 21 WHA-HD out of Madison. With the DTVPal channel         MPEG-2 Video Decoding (MP@ML, MP@HL)
5 NBC would pop in and out but it did have a picture.             Input Format: Supports 18 Modes (1080p/1080i/720p/480p/480i)
                                                                  Output Format: NTSC 720x480i
Features claimed by the Artec T3A-PRO are:                        Composite Video Out

Tunes And Decodes All 18 Approved ATSC DTV Broadcast For- Audio Processing
mats                                                      Dolby AC-3 Audio Decoding
Standard Definition NTSC 480i Output                      Digital Multi-Lingual
EPG (Electronic Program Guide)
V-Chip Lock (Parental Controls)                           Closed Caption
Closed Caption                                            Digital CC (Comply with EIA-708-B), English/Spanish/ French
Aspect Ratio Control In 4:3 And 16:9 Mode                 EPG
On Screen Menu                                            Current Program Display By Transparent Graphic Plane
CH3/4 RF Output For Conventional Analog TV Set

                             Amateur Television Quarterly          Page 4
Power                                                                 Only a tiny fraction of homes have emergency power to maintain
Input Voltage: 12V DC                                                 a power hog big screen Plasma TV. DTV converter boxes will
Power Consumption: 4.5W Max                                           die with the power mains, along with cable TV (since a majority
Power Adapter: Input: 100-240V~0.3A 50-60Hz, Output: 12V,             of that is now digital) and of course satellite TV. There
0.5A                                                                  will be no heroic TV weatherman sticking it out at the hurricane
                                                                      radar in the studio alone when everyone else has gone to
I/O Interface                                                         shelters; no life saving information except from AM-FM radios
Top Panel: Power, Channel +/-, Volume +/-                             that can hear an actual live local station that is not a
Front Panel: IR Receiver, LED Indicator                               satellite juke box outlet for some megabux Dallas or NYC based
Rear Panel:                                                           playlist computer.
    DC in 12V
     RF in / Out                                                      The national DEAS and WARN systems being put in by the gov-
     Composite (RCA) Out                                              ernment are only on PBS stations. The NTIA has been told to
     (Yellow for Video Output, Red/White for Audio Output)            equip them with emergency power generators. That won't happen
     Channel 3/4 RF Output                                            for 18 months or more. The WARN system is a low bit rate
     Data Port                                                        signal to take over the cell phones to relay an emergency message.
                                                                      But if cell service is out (Hey you folks in New Orleans, how
So, why did I choose the two units as the units to test? I wanted     long was cell service out .. days, weeks?) or shut down by over-
one unit that would work from 12 volts (the Artec T3A-                load or public official order what good will that do?
PRO) and I wanted one with analog pass through (the DTVPal).
Why did I want these features?                                        So this might be a good time to cozy up to a local TV news sta-
                                                                      tion about a cooperative plan to use ham radio, ham-tv to
Work from 12 volts                                                    get to analog TV sets, or set up your emergency networks for
I like the idea of working mobile like what was mentioned above       more than Field Day or an SEC event. You might want to start
to watch the weather channels for storm spotters. Yes, you            in Carolina where the FCC has decided to turn off analog TV dur-
could do it with an inverter, but wanted to try one with 12 volts.    ing the hurricane season in September to test DTV and the
                                                                      effects of turning off analog. Then again, maybe write your con-
Analog Pass Through                                                   gressman and ask them or the FCC to delay turning off
 I use a VCR to monitor our local ATV repeater (channel 57 cable      analog TV until the technology for cheap portable DTV battery
- 421.25 MHz) and by having the analog pass through, I can            TV sets has saturated the market. The next big black out
 switch back and forth without disconnecting wires or adding          will be brought to you courtesy of government mandate. Make
 switches.                                                            sure you have a flashlight to see your PC screen in the dark.
                                                                      I'm stocking up on sticks and wet blankets for smoke signals.
Both units were easy to set up, but the DTVPal was the winner
for me in my testing. The reason:                                     Henry AA9XW

1. Analog pass through
2. More sensitive - picked up stations the Artec did not
3. Has on screen signal strength
4. Graphics more pleasing
So, now you know which unit I favor. Below are some parting
thoughts from Henry, AA9XW:

On Feb 17th, 2007 essentially all TV broadcast will be digital ,
except for those thousands of low power stations carrying
some satellite delivered religious or juke box program with no
local input. That means you have likely lost ALL emergency
communication from the TV broadcasters. Check it, all the DTV
sets need AC power. When the AC power goes out, so does
cable TV, satellite TV, over the air TV. All those millions of bat-
tery powered portable TV sets will be worthless. Might
as well toss them in the trash or the ham shack. The few battery
power DTV sets from RS/Best Buy don't have much range, a
lousy direct conversion front end, lots of intermod and other prob-
lems. You can use the USB port on the laptop, provided
you have enough batteries or external emergency power source to
run it for days and a USB port DTV tuner.

                               Amateur Television Quarterly            Page 5

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