: ATSC Converter Boxes (Non-HD, Non-Recording)
2011-03-15, 01:59 AM
A sticker on the bottom of my Access HD 1030 says "Manufactured date: 0509" (presumably May 2009?).
The English manual in the box says "Rev: September 22, 2008".
Nothing on the outside of the box to indicate improvements. Though interestingly there was a long white sticker on the front covering the mention of a $40 government coupon program in the US and the fact it requires an antenna. :)
I just noticed the entire backside of the box is one giant sticker (a French translation of the front), covering up more information on the US government program and other info about the converter itself.
Looks like they're old left over stock from the US, "refurbished" with French labels and manuals.
Still working OK. Only new thing I've discovered is sometimes the glitch with the virtual channel reports ABC-22 as "13.4" now (instead of just 13.1 and 13.2). Also if I switch a channel's audio feed to 'Audio 2' it often switches back to Audio 1 if I flip through channels or the signal is weak (I find the local CTV station has a tinny audio feed on 1, or worse, has the Audio Description for the blind on the default audio 1 feed!).
2011-03-15, 02:52 AM
Thanks for the detailed info Apple IIGS.
I've seen that Future Shop and even some Home Hardware carry the Access box. But still quite limited in the Vancouver area with regards to Digital Converter Box selection. It's the Access, RCA DTA800B, Magnavox TB110MW9, and a limited few very pricey Zinwell 970A's at The Source. The ones I've checked all had "2008" dates on them.
2011-03-15, 02:54 AM
Either stampeder or 57 did make note that we are stalled right now at the 6th generation chipset so even though these units may be 2008 models, its possible they have the latest chip technology and some of these units are just rehashed.
2011-03-15, 03:14 AM
Yes, I have read that the ones from around mid 2008 likely have the most current generation chipset. It's just that I would have thought that there would have been available in Canada some boxes made since then. I'm just thinking it's possible to get a few well travelled three year old units with leaking batteries, or even, to the unsuspecting Canadian consumer, defective ones that have been 'refurbished' and then resold at a price equal to or greater than what originally was charged 2 to 3 years ago in the US.
2011-03-15, 12:12 PM
Technically its the same price as it was in the US, the difference there is that it was subsidized so a box that was $80, you only paid say $40 for, but the other $40 still found it's way into the manufactuers pocket. It was just less money out of the consumer pocket, but then consider the fact that it came from the Fed's money and in truth it is all a wash.
2011-03-15, 02:06 PM
Definately the US Coupon program set the stage for artificial pricing starting around the $40 mark. But take for instance the Access 1030D. It's $28 on the manufacturer's site, and most often $33 or so in the US. And here it's $49.99 or slightly more. The CM-7000 is $69.99 on Channel Master online store and at this site's sponsor in Ontario it's $99.99 and that doesn't include shipping. Our dollar has been near par for some time and currently is close to $1.03 US - Things just cost more here because Canadians are polite and don't dump tea in the harbour when things get pricey.
2011-03-15, 03:13 PM
The notion of a "converter" box is by definition an idea with a built-in end-of-life. It is a technological bandaid to bridge a gap experienced by some consumers. It is a matter of simple economics, really:
the number of ATSC-equipped TV sales grows
the number of NTSC-only-equipped TV "retirements" grows (scrapped, left in a bedroom or basement unused, given away, etc.)
consumers are buying entirely new TVs and ditching their old analogue ones
The numbers are clear, and it is justifiable from a business standpoint that no manufacturer has committed to develop new products for such a dwindling market.
If you absolutely require a converter box, buy one, but don't expect that it is cutting edge technology - it was never meant to be that way.
2011-03-15, 03:44 PM
I would expect there to be a significant converter box market in Mexico where there are justifiable numbers, who for economic reasons still have CRT televisions. I could easily junk my 2 year old CRT Analogue 27" TV which weighs 100 pounds and two others into the already full landfill and get a good deal on a new ATSC tuner LCD, but I think it's a waste to do that- from an economic and an environmental standpoint. I certainly didn't want to get people angry here from expressing my opinion.
2011-03-15, 03:53 PM
I hope I don't sound angry - I'm definitely not! :) On trips to Mexico over the last few years I've dropped into department store TV sections out of curiosity and found essentially the same prices (after conversion) on HDTVs as in Canada and the U.S., with no analogue TVs to be found, so I have a feeling their conversion will be much the same situation as ours in which U.S. boxes are sold to a steadily decreasing portion of consumers. In northern Mexican locations that get U.S. DTV (Tijuana, Juarez, and Reynosa) the converter box market is already saturated.
2011-03-15, 07:34 PM
wonder what they'll sell for on ebay, 20 years from now?
don't remember exactly how many of the family cars we installed these in as a kid, seems like must have been at least 4 or 5 in a row. remember the
fm convertor (http://shop.*********/i.html?_nkw=fm+radio+converter&_sacat=0&_odkw=fm+radio+converter&_osacat=0&_trksid=p3286.c0.m270.l1313) ?
2011-03-17, 10:15 AM
The notion of a "converter" box is by definition an idea with a built-in end-of-life. It is a technological bandaid to bridge a gap experienced by some consumers. It is a matter of simple economics, really: That would be the case with my purchase of the Access HD 1030. I'm in the process of looking for a modern 52" LCD TV (I'm ready to make the purchase as soon as I find one I like) and ready to retire my analog-based CRT any day now.
The converter is just a stop gap measure until then. I don't want to invest more in my 22 year old set, but at the same time I don't want to be without any channels for casual watching (it's the US stations that are important to me).
If you absolutely require a converter box, buy one, but don't expect that it is cutting edge technology - it was never meant to be that way. Well some are certainly better than others, but from what I've read about them, they're all flawed (i.e. crap) in some way or another. If I were planning to stick with my CRT TV forever then I would have gone for a more expensive converter, particularly one that supports s-video and a full EPG, but I look at this as an emergency spare-tire...just enough "repair" to drive me to the dealership to buy a new car. :)
I don't even watch episodic television shows or movies on my 27" CRT TV set any more. As another temporary measure I've been using a 20" wide-screen computer LCD display resting on a chair (hooked up to my PC) and watch HD/720p movies and TV shows on that. Hopefully I'll have a modern TV set with built-in ATSC tuner sooner rather than later to replace all these stop gap solutions....the CRT TV, computer LCD and converter box.
2011-03-18, 03:29 PM
To get around the poor quality of the set top converter box, Access HD and many others, I was wondering if one could swap a new internal digital tuner, from the same manufacturer, in their old, or not so old, CRT television to put in place of the analogue tuner.
2011-03-18, 04:08 PM
You're assuming tuners are still discrete boxes, like they were in some older TVs. Not so. If you're getting a tuner, you're also getting the rest of the set.
2011-03-18, 04:13 PM
Transplant your TV's built-in analog NTSC tuner, with the digital ATSC tuner from a converter box?
That isn't possible, they aren't compatible, let alone even physically insertable. Even if you did some electronics hacking to wire the guts of one of these converter boxes into your old TV (wired right into the AV or RF input internally) it would still be exactly the same thing and function 100% identically. The only difference is you'd have less clutter sitting outside your set. On the negative side, the heat and closed space inside the picture tube cabinet would probably cause it to overheat and burn out. :)
I suppose it's possible some companies may sell pin-compatible ATSC tuners you can install inside older TV sets, but it'd likely be an expensive part and require soldering. CRT sets also retain dangerous amounts of electrical current (up to 50,000 volts if I recall!) even after they've been unplugged for several days.
It's an interesting idea though....I wonder if companies like Sony, Toshiba, Hitachi, etc sell ATSC tuners compatible with their older sets. Personally I doubt it.
2011-03-18, 07:15 PM
I suppose it's possible some companies may sell pin-compatible ATSC tuners you can install inside older TV sets
I think in a lot of sets the 'tuner' just converts the signal to a lower, fixed frequency (Called the Intermediate Frequency, or IF.) In TVs and FM radios it is usually 10.7MHz. That part is probably fine for ATSC.
Now the demodulator, video decoder and audio decoder that go after it are completely different.
NTSC: Tuner -> IF -> VSB Demodulator -> Video Decode -> Analog Red, Green, Blue video and syncronizing pulses -> CRT
ATSC: Tuner -> IF -> 8BSK Demodulator -> MPEG Decoder -> Digital RGB -> Digital to Analog converter -> Analog RGB Video -> CRT.
Even ignoring the sound notice that much of the electronics have been replaced. Also the controls on the old set won't know how to control the MPEG decoder to select sub channels, etc.
2011-03-18, 09:47 PM
Now I won't go all "Red Green" on my Toshiba. I'll settle for a cheap set top box instead.
2011-03-19, 12:02 PM
It most anaog TVs, the tuner box itself usuall provides IF, typically 45Mhz. Smaller/cheaper TVs would have a "Jungle chip", which would basically do the work of taking the IF from the tuner, and supplying signals to the CRT drive and deflection circuits.
More sophisiticated TVs may have a separate IF demodulator board, and maybe an MTS decoder. And all that with a separate system control processor (which often creates the rudimentary OSD directly, with OSD inputs on the Jungle chip).
For ATSC, the tuner block (metal box) typically outputs a digital IF, which goes into an all-in-one system-on-a-chip, which demodulates the digital IF to a bitstream and performs FEC, demuxing, and decoding to A/V, as well as running the system and providing the UI and OSD.
2011-03-21, 06:57 AM
Well, discovered another "feature" with that Access HD glitch. The one I described earlier where it temporarily forgets a virtual channel (i.e. WVNY 22.1 suddenly becomes 13.1, 13.2, 13.3 or 13.4).
-If the affected virtual channel has any sub channels blocked in the 'Channel List Editing' preference when the glitch hits, they'll all be reset to unblocked! For example, I like to set 22.2 to "skip" because it's just a standard def duplicate feed of 22.1/HD. Now I have to keep going into the menu and changing it from stored->skip. Rather annoying. I'll probably just leave it unblocked at this point.
-My Access HD got confused about virtual channel 57 too now, but just once so far. It got labeled as "38.1". So it can potentially affect other channels.
-The glitch happens at random. I went to key in "22-1" on the keypad and it refused to jump to the channel. Odd I thought. So I manually pressed ch+ a few times to get to channel and noticed it wasn't there, it got changed to 13.1 (which means at that moment I'm expected to key in "13-1" because the converter decided to have another hiccup). Again, it does correct itself if you stay tuned into that channel for several seconds.
Oh well...it's still just a minor annoyance. I've been running the converter 3 weeks straight now and it still has NOT crashed, locked up or lost its memory. It also reliably gives me a stable picture and sound, so long as the signal from my antenna is OK.
2011-03-21, 02:08 PM
That "Access" converter glitch doesn't seem too bad, as long as you didn't pay too much for the box. It seems that most bands of set top boxes have their fair share of defective units out there, and if you can get past 12 to 18 months of use you might have a good one.
2011-03-24, 08:03 PM
Does anyone here have any long-term experience with Tivax set top boxes? I've read that the remotes are usually the weak link, but I think there's a few universal remotes out there that should take care of that. I don't have the Tivax STB-T12 yet, but I would like to know if anyone else has it and what they think about it, or what they've experienced with the previous Tivax STB-T8 and T9 models. * I do plan on getting an LCD TV with an ATSC tuner, probably next year.