I stumbled across this HD tuner that might be of interest up north.
It is distrubuted through Centronics and sold through Solid Signal (probably others) for only $50
US which is close to the price for one of our CEBC's with
the coupon. The orginal list was $230 and now it's $150.
1. 8VSB tuner (no QAM even though the chip has it built in),
2. HDMI, VGA & component outs; switchable between 480p, 720p & 1080i,
3. Composite out (see below), but no S video,
4. EPG (see below),
5. Optical audio out (see below),
6. Multiple aspect ratio choices (but buried layers deep in the menu).
1. Price (1/3 the cost of the compition),
2. Multiple outputs (two can be used at the same time ?),
3. Decent PQ with HDMI & component outs (not quite as good and my other external tuner and internal tuner in my 57" Mits),
1. Lack of proper documentation,
2. Flaky EPG and incorrect GMT offset (+ hours instead of - hours),
3. Older 2nd generation tuner. Main board is dated 12/06 (but doesn't appear to be a problem),
4. Useless composite out (high chroma level and rolled off video response), no S-video,
5. Uses as much power in standby as when on. IOW's a power hog (considering what it is),
6. Flaky, hard to figure out, undocumented 'Channel Manager',
7. Possible audio sync issues w/ optical out (first unconfirmed report).
Details on what you don't see and isn't in print;
Circuit board: PATSC40040G Rev.02 Build date 12/06
Front End: Thomson DTF8800A 21475080 6325000487
8VSB/QAM 2nd gen. receiver chip: Broadcom BCM3510KPFG (QAM disabled);
Memory (2): Samsung K4H561616338F-UCCC
NOR flash memory: Samsung K8D6316UBM PI07;
Unfortunately, the main processor is under a glued on heat sink that I didn't want to try to remove.
There are two 'headers' on the board;
J9- 3 pin
J19- 20 pin
There is also a reset: SW1
I did many tests with this and considering it's only a 2nd generation receiver chip, it has surprising good reception results. I'm in the unfortunate location to be bombed with no less than seven stations less than 7 miles away in the same direction as Toronto. That creates a very interesting (and expensive ) challenge for me to even think about trying for Toronto. With the aid of seven, single channel filters and a amp, I found a combimation that works (for the most part).
Anyway, this box isn't any worst than my four other HD tuners (three TV's and one DVR). I do have a CECB box (Channel Master) and I have to say, there is a noticeable improvement over all these others with the CM. Nothing huge, but noticeable. Anyone that only has a HD ready TV, this might
be an answer.