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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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.

Features;
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).

Pros;
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),

Cons;
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);
http://www.broadcom.com/collateral/pb/3510-PB05-R.pdf

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.
 

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Choice Select vs Winegard?

I'm considering either a Choice Select CH04006 or a Winegard RC-1010.

My ultimate goal is to feed in a signal from a CM4228 and have this box power a 1080i projector for my home theatre setup but would also like to be able to move it around to a older HDTV without ATSC tuner or analog TV up at the cottage.

Any thoughts or suggestions about these two tuners would be appreciated.

Thank you.
 

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Samsung SIR-T151 tuner

I was able to get a great deal on a used Samsung SIR-T151 tuner, the only problem is it came without a remote. Does anyone have that system and if so, would you be able to tell me part number for the remote? or maybe anyone knows a universal remote that will work with this tuner?

Thanks in advance.
 

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avgjoe said:
anyone knows a universal remote that will work with this tuner?
A Harmony remote will operate your Samsung SIR-T151 just fine. :) Now the not so good news... the reason you got such a good deal on it is probably due to the fact that it has a very old generation of ATSC chipset, which means you won't be getting the performance we've come to expect over the last 2 to 3 years from ATSC tuners. Sorry, but its always best to hear the truth.
 

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Thanks for the reply stampeder, though that Harmony remote seems to be worth more than I paid for the box ($25) - anything cheaper you're aware of, like a generic universal remote?
As for the tuner - we'll see how it goes, hopefully it'll be stable enough for the Toronto stations, don't really care for analog stuff (I see that it doesn't have a ntsc tuner)
 

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avgjoe said:
Harmony remote seems to be worth more than I paid for the box
I hear you.... they are not cheap... but they really do eliminate your other remotes for almost all day to day activities around TV watching or any of your audio/video equipment.

Most of us that have gone the harmony way... did so to make controlling two or more devices in an activity limited to one remote. My wife use to give me grief abou the 5-7 remotes... she would say I want one remote one button... the harmony is the closest I have gotten.
 

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My preference is a JP1 remote. They are much cheaper, but you need to be a bit more tech savvy to program it.
 

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Can you buy a ATSC HD receiver standalone?

Quick question, I have 3 LCD tvs. I have a 52" Toshiba, 32" LG and a 32" Westinghouse. Right now my OTA is split to all 3 and I get HD on the first two fine, but the westinghouse is older and has no ATSC antenna so it's just analog. Can you just buy a standalone receiver box that would connect using component or HDMI to the TV? I know for media centre PCs I could get a ATSC pci capture card, I just prefer keeping my media centre PC out of the bedroom, just curious the cheapest option as I can't seem to find anything. Thanks!
 

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You can, but they're extremely rare in Canada, and if you find one, it's far too expensive for what it does.

After Feb., you should be able to find them easier, as the US will be ATSC-only (for the majority), making a need for the products (in the US).
As for up here, the electronics giants would prefer you to buy cable/sat subscriptions through them, so they will hold off as long as possible before stocking these kind of items.
 

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Can you just buy a standalone receiver box that would connect using component or HDMI to the TV?
it's expensive but some satellite receivers have the ATSC tuner built in with HDMI out,

one example is the nfusion and it also have a USB port for PVR and playback.

and there's also the Coolsat 8100 HD

most HD receivers retails for around 400$ but can do SAT HD
 

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Smog said:
so far the DTT-901 and the CM7000 are the boxes of choice for analog tvs and both are good performing transition boxes.
I agree. I have heard very few complaints with either of these boxes and they seem very reliable. They each have their own pros and cons, but so does the DTB-H260F.

From what I have read, here is how the three boxes compare:

Samsung DTB-H260F:
  • Great for HDTVs or analog TVs with Component inputs,
  • Unusable with TVs that only have S-VIDEO or Composite inputs,
  • Has older 5th Generation decoder chip.
Channel Master CM7000:
  • S-VIDEO output gives superior picture quality to TVs that support it,
  • Small text in menus is difficult to read on smaller TVs,
  • Does not have analog passthrough for viewing analog broadcasts,
  • Excellent sensitivity for weak signals,
  • Has 6th Generation decoder chip for improved handling of interference.
Zenith DTT-901:
  • Good picture quality despite only having composite (or RF) outputs,
  • Has analog passthrough,
  • Has highly rated LG 6th Generation decoder chip for excellent handling of interference.
So which one to choose? I would say:

  • If you have an HDTV, go with the DTB-H260F,
  • If you have a large analog TV with an S-VIDEO input and don't care about analog channels or don't mind adding a splitter (resulting in an extra 3.5 to 4 dB signal loss), go with the CM7000,
  • Otherwise, the DTT-901 is your best option.
This is my personal opinion and other people may have other opinions.
 

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Roger, I agree with you 100%. Just one more point to clarify - both the CM and Zenith STBs only output 480i so there are pointless for HDTVs.

Another point about the Samsung box - it is less capable than the Zenith at displaying cropped 16:9 on a 4:3 screen (don't know about the CM box since I don't have one) so not really a good fit for an analog set.
 

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TR-40cra vs Insignia vs Samsung DTB-H260F

I just got a TR-40cra today. I have an Insignia (Zenith clone) and a Samsung DTB-H260F, so that's the only boxes I can compare it to.

In terms of picture quality, the TR40 seems a little better to me than my Insignia (s/a Zenith). My Insignia's picture seems too bright and a bit washed so the blacks are kind of gray. The TR40 seems to have a sharper picture with better color. I've used S-Video with my DVD player and satellite boxes, and I don't think there is much improvement. But, it could be the way my TV handles composite video... for instance my garage TV, a 15 year old Panasonic, shows "dot crawl" with composite video, something my Sony TV does not do. Neither box compares to the Samsung since the Samsung has component out, which my TV accepts. The Samsung makes my 480i set look almost HD when a HDTV show is broadcast.

For tuner performance, I think the TR40 may have a slight edge. It held picture and audio longer than either the Insignia or Samsung on a weak signal. It was faster to re-acquire the picture and audio after a signal drop-out.

The TR40 and Samsung both have a a great guide and program event timers. I've never had any issues with the Samsung's timers. However, many have reported bugs with the TR40 timers, but this seems to have been corrected with recent software changes, so hopefully it won't affect mine. Mines a "F105", so time will tell. So far though, it's fired off all timers spot on. The Insignia has only a "what's on next" guide and no timers. Still, better than nothing.

The TR40 was easily controlled by my existing Sony TV remote, using a Dish code. My TV remote could not be programmed to control either the Insignia or Samsung. I'm expecting my VCR remote should be able to control it too. The TR-40's remote seems to be better quality than the Insignia. It's larger and the buttons have a better feel.

The TR40 was the least expensive of the three, only costing me 1 cent plus shipping since I ordered it from a retailer other than Dish, which charges tax. Canadians, if you have an American friend who's willing to give you a coupon, this is a great deal, even with the extra shipping costs to Canada.
 

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Thanks for that, Whidbey, its great to get real world examples like that. :) For those not familiar with it, the TR-40cra is called the DTVPal and is made by Echostar (Dish Networks) but is not a satellite receiver - ATSC only. It qualifies as a CECB coupon box.
 

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Stampeder - I should have mentioned that it's really a DTVPal, despite it being called a TR40cra. In all of the on screen menus, it refers to itself as a DTVPal.
 

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Thanks for your review Whidbey! Yes the TR-40cra is the same hardware as the DTVpal only cheaper. Correct my if I am wrong but as far as I have heard, the TR-40cra is only available from online retailers who won't ship to Canada. Thus most of us would have to go with the more expensive DTVpal which are available in stores.

You are the first person I have heard of who thinks the PQ of the TR-40cra/DTVpal is better than the Zenith. Most of the reviews I have read seem to think the DTVpal's picture isn't as sharp, but I guess it is all personal opinion. I haven't seen a comparison myself, so I can only refer to those who have so it is always good to hear another opinion.

As far as tuner sensitivity, I have read that the DTVpal is slightly better, thought the Zenith is better at dealing with interference.

You are right and the F105 software (F106 is the latest) fixes most of the timer related bugs (though I have read that there is still one minor bug outstanding). This is my biggest concern as the only way to upgrade the software is to send it back to DishNetwork and I am not sure if they will support units in Canada.

This brings up the other concern I have with the DTVpal, is that the it apparently runs very hot and this could cause a long term reliability issue and it could be difficult for Canadians to get it fixed.
 

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Roger - I bought mine from Solid Signal - I'm not sure if they ship to Canada. Perhaps you can arrange a trade with an American friend - Say they ship you a TR-40 in exchange for Tim Horton's coffee or Maple Syrup! :)

I left my TR-40 on all night to see if it would get hot. It got warm, but certainly not hot. The coax outs were not hot to the touch, and the box itself was warm, but no worse than my other receivers.

In regards to PQ, it was a surprise to me to see how good the TR40's picture was. I didn't expect it to be better than the Insignia. Even recordings from the TR40 look a bit better.

One neat thing I discovered about the TR40: When you do a manual search for channels and find a signal, you then have an option to "scan" that individual channel for PSIP info. This is good when you are experimenting looking for far away signals that you have no idea what they are. Also displayed is the actual frequency, in addition to the physical channel and virtual channels.
 
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