I'd like to give you all an update on the Digital TV article I wrote in the November/December 2007 issue.
At that time of writing, Digital TV converter boxes weren't even on the market yet. A year later, there are dozens of converter boxes on the market and almost all models have been tested extensively by consumer publications and enthusiasts alike.
While there are many good choices, the clear winner seems to be a box made by LG Electronics, marketed under the Zenith and Insignia brands. It's widely accepted in the enthusiast community for having the best tuner sensitivity (ability to lock onto signals). It also has very accurate video output. One broadcast engineer found it's color output to be more accurate than an older $2,000 rackmount decoder.
Feature wise, this box is outstanding! The slick looking menus are well organized and easy to use. The remote (requires one AAA battery, included) is simple and well laid out, yet has every feature and option you'd want to access (CC, mute, zoom, guide and a signal meter) right at your fingertips. The only things you need to go into the menu for are seldom-used features like scanning channels and changing output settings.
We've had these converter boxes hooked up to our two TVs for a few months now, and it does live up to it's reputation. I'd certainly recommend it to anybody shopping for one.
The Zenith branded model, the Zenith DTT-901 is available at your local K-Mart for a mere $49.99 ($9.99 after $40 government coupon). Best Buy sells it under their store brand, Insignia, which is available for $59.99 ($19.99 after coupon).
A few quick tips setting up your box:
-If your TV has composite video (yellow jack), use that instead of the coax ch. 3/4 output.
-If you connect the TV using composite and stereo audio (red and white), go into the menu and change it from mono to stereo.
-This box, as with all other coupon eligible models have a timer that turns it off if no button has been pressed for four hours. Go into the menu and set to off in order to disable this.
-If you have an antenna on a rotor, the box probably won't find all available channels. Point your antenna toward the stations it didn't find, then go into the menu and select EZ-Add. This allows you to find new channels without erasing the ones it already found.
-Use the zoom control!!! Oftentimes, a station will broadcast in widescreen format all the time, but might have a 4:3 (standard) picture. The result is a widescreen image with black bars on either side. Displayed on a standard TV, the image will have black bars on both top and bottom, left and right (a black frame around the picture). When the program is like this, simply use the crop setting. When your watching a widescreen program, such as a movie or big nationally syndicated show, consider zooming out to get the whole picture.