: ATSC Converter Boxes (Non-HD, Non-Recording)
2010-06-30, 12:00 PM
I will relay what I was told by a PCT rep. about a year ago. Sorry due to confidentiality requested, I can't provide the source.
"The manufacturer's design was for a non-HD output, ntsc/atsc integrated tuner/with digital audio capability and it was intended for component use with [tunerless] monitors. The manufacture design was then modified to suit the current U.S. requirements before it could be manufacured for Channel Master and distributed in the U.S. market."
So, the point of saying this is, it would be 100% possible to re-activate the boards digital audio port by filling the empty slots, but the tuner in the can is atsc only. To acheive digital audio would require a software update.
2010-06-30, 12:02 PM
Any word on who the manufacturer is?
2010-06-30, 01:57 PM
I know the company is located in Sofia Bulgaria. They make many various set-top type boxes for BDU's. I don't know the name of the company though.
2010-07-27, 12:03 PM
A new thread has been set up in the Where Can I Buy forum to assist Canadians with where DTV converter boxes (Non-HD, HD, and other types) can be purchased:
OTA Digital Converter Boxes In Canada (http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=127559)
This present thread is for technical discussion about their performance and usefulness.
2010-08-06, 02:57 AM
Not wanting to shell out hundreds of dollars for either an OTA HD PVR (either manufactured or self-built) or a cable-based PVR solution, I decided this summer I would adapt my existing LG hard-drive recorder to record digital OTA television.
Seeing how I had a negative run-in with a Tivax converter box last year, I figured I would try another make and model.
So last week, I acquired a Zinwell ZAT-970A, which I've hooked into the AV inputs of my hard-drive recorder. Here are a few points you might find useful if you're wondering if this product is right for you.
• INTERFACE: Very intuitive. Not very complicated to use at all.
• CHANNEL SETUP: The initial channel scan begins at first boot. It's easy to re-scan to add more channels. You can also manually channels.
• RECEPTION: What I can receive on my TV, I can receive with the converter box. Splitting an antenna input for both, signals behave similarly.
• SIGNAL METER: The device has separate indicators for signal strength and signal quality, similar to those on late-model TV sets. (And it's an improvement on the signal meter on my TV.) The meter shows for a few seconds when you invoke the "Display" function. For a more permanent signal-strength indication, go to the function that allows you to add channels manually.
• PICTURE QUALITY: For something that comes out of a SD analog 480i video output, it looks great. You can also control the aspect ratio of the image — 16:9, 4:3 letterbox and 4:3 pan/scan.
• PROGRAM INFO: Pressing "Display" shows the program title for what's on now and what's on next. There is no program grid and no extended program info.
• TIMER: Here's the main reason I purchased the device. It's one of the few DTV converter boxes that has a timer. Used in conjunction with the timer on my hard-drive recorder, it works like a charm. To turn the device off, you can set a sleep/inactivity timer that starts counting time down from the last command input.
• ANALOGUE PASS-THROUGH: For those who require it, this device has analogue pass-through. I don't think you even need to shut the device down — there's a digital/analog button on the remote control.
• FAVOURITES: For those of you lucky enough to live within range of U.S. stations and their multitude of sub-channels, the converter box allows to you establish lists of favourites so you can skip channels you don't want to see.
In short, the Zinwell ZAT-970A does a very good job at extending the life of TVs or digital recorders that don't not have ATSC reception capabilities.
In in my particular application of using it to adapt a hard-drive recorder, it gives me a superior image to what I can record off analog cable — for two channels, anyway.
Features I like: TV Guide EPG and Analog Pass-through
I just found this Digital-To-Analog converter box online. Does anyone have this in the GTA (or anywhere)? Do you like it? Does TVGuide work for the Canadian channels better than PSIP?
2010-12-27, 06:57 PM
Anyone who is watching OTA TV via a ATSC Tuner box connected to their SDTV?
I was wondreing if you are watching a channel such as City TV HD, will it show the widescreen content and letterbox it on your SDTV or will it centre cut it? just wondering because I'm relatively new to ATSC technologies.
van der Decken
2010-12-27, 07:09 PM
Back when I tried a digital converter box on my old TV, it gave me the choice of anamorphic, wide 16:9, wide 14:9 and zoom. So you could essentially watch letterbox, center cut, or stretch to fit.
2010-12-27, 09:39 PM
I have used a Tivax box in the past. It basically allowed you the choice of what sort of aspect ratio you wanted to send to your 4x3 SDTV.
Anamorphic, Letterbox, Center Cut etc.
The Letterbox option would probably be the best option.
Letterbox is the size that almost always makes the most sense. Sometimes the signal shows black bars on all four sides of the screen so at that time you might choose another aspect that makes more sense.
With ATSC HDTVs around 19" coming in arount $180, and 32" at around $300, it becomes debatable whether you should buy a digital-to-analog converter box to keep your old TV running or if you should just buy a new TV.
We have some cheap $30 d2a converter boxes we use on some TVs we don't intend to replace. Completely happy with them.
2010-12-28, 10:50 PM
Just thought i'd respond about that converter box. I just got one for christmas and it works really good. But the guide's no better for the canadian channels as most say DTV program, just like your HDTV does, but its nice to have the guide for the american channels can see afew hours in advance. It's not a bad little box at all.
2011-01-10, 01:21 PM
An interesting discovery.
While visiting my parents, I bought a Zinwell ATSC converter box to connect to one of their old crt tvís. The box has analog pass-through and does not have component nor hdmi connection.
I also purchased a Dynex LCD tv for them to use as a computer monitor and to watch dvdís. As the tv has an integrated atsc tuner, I thought I would try it out. Using an indoor antenna I found that the Zinwell picked up all local dtv channels rather easily while the Dynex struggled to pick up and maintain certain local stations.
Out of curiosity I connected the Zinwell to the LCD tv via rf connection. Of course, in the normal mode I was receiving sd pictures on the tv as the boxís objective is to convert digital signals to analog so that older sets can watch the digital channels. Then I tried analog pass-through. When the button is pressed, youíre actually going back to using the tvís tuner to access analog stations which the box canít pick up. When I tuned to the dtv stations on the tv, it was now able to pick up all local stations, even the ones it couldnít previously. And now I was getting the digital feed (in hd where applicable). At first I mistakenly thought that I was watching hd through the converter box. Then I realized that it was actually the tvís own tuner and that the converter box must have been acting as an amplifier for the indoor antenna.
Has anybody else experienced something similar? Am I correct in saying that the box amplified the antenna? If not, what would be the explanation for the tv being able to receive stronger signals?
2011-01-10, 01:33 PM
The signal when running the coax directly into the LCD was weaker than when you ran the coax into the Converter and fed it's output into the LCD's coax input, all links using coax/RF, correct?
2011-01-10, 02:19 PM
That is correct, Stampeder.
2011-01-10, 02:38 PM
I would check all the coax jumpers to make sure they're okay. Also does the LCD's ATSC tuner have a DTV signal meter?
2011-01-10, 03:19 PM
Yes, the LCD tv does have a signal meter, but it's not much. Different coloured bars to indicate weak, normal or good signal.
2011-01-10, 03:30 PM
rmchahn, What happens if you unplug the Zinwell? It is quite possible that the Zinwell amplifies the signal it passes through and that amp has a lower NF than the first stage amp in the Dynex TV (the NF of the first stage amplifer is the most important).
2011-01-10, 04:51 PM
Roger1818, when I unplug the Zinwell, I will lose some of the channels. It's as if the "amplification" is turned off.
Some boxes amplify their APT signal as much as 3 dB, others have a loss.
2011-01-12, 11:17 AM
An amplifier needs power, so if you lose some channels using the TV's tuner when the Zinwell is unplugged, it sounds like it is amplifying the signal. While I don't normally recommend amplifying indoor antennas, it sounds like your parents would be a candidate for a good quality (low noise) amp for their Dynex TV.
Another question, when in analog pass-through, does the Zinwell tuner still work? Given that it is amplifying the signal it may be splitting rather than switching the input.