Picking a DTV Converter

March 16, 2009 1:54:04 PM PDT
Digital TV transition is on June 12, 2009 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To get the government's $40-dollar coupon for a digital converter box, and find more information on the DTV transition, CLICK HERE...
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Only five months to go until the transition to digital television. One quick fix for your TV is a digital converter box but at what cost? The good news is, the best one Consumer Reports tested is only 10-dollars!

Mary Linkowski was stunned back in December when she learned her analog TV would go black on June12, 2009 . She doesn't want to pay for cable or satellite, so her son's getting her something that costs a lot less: "He promised that he would get me one of those converter boxes."

Consumer Reports has tested two dozen converter boxes costing from around $50 to about $80. But they'll cost you less if you get a $40 coupon from the government (https://www.dtv2009.gov/Default.aspx).

The tests found all the boxes produced picture quality ranging from acceptable to outstanding. One of the best boxes is the Tivax STB-T9 (http://www.tivax.com/STB-T9.htm), which costs just $10 with the government coupon.

But even though it's one of the best converter boxes tested, be aware a number of factors can affect performance. Jim Willcox of Consumer Reports adds, "? where you live, the local terrain, the number of stations that are broadcasting in your area, signal strength, and the type of antenna that you're using."

Digital converter boxes all come with the same basic features, including a remote control. But some boxes also have buttons on the unit itself so you can operate them in case you lose the remote. Some also provide a comprehensive program guide with details about upcoming shows. And you may want to look for one that lets you adjust the closed captioning to make it bigger and easier to read.

Be aware, converter boxes don't work with an old-fashioned rabbit ear antenna. You need an antenna that receives both UHF and VHF signals.

To get the government's $40-dollar coupon for a digital converter box, and find more information on the DTV transition, CLICK HERE...

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Recommendations and notes from Consumer Reports August 2008
Digital TV converter boxes

More details about the models listed in our Ratings of DTV converter boxes

TIVAX STB-T9

Picture quality. Picture quality was among the best, close to what you see with a good DVD. It had a minor flaw that only the fussiest might notice: If you're watching a downconverted HD wide-screen program letter-boxed to fit your squarish screen, images are stretched vertically to a slight extent.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and line-level left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. Program guide provides show descriptions for several hours of programming for the currently tuned channel. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel, the on-screen signal meter allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So, if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. It has a Smart Antenna connection. It comes with A/V cables (composite-video and stereo audio) in addition to the usual RF cables.

Note: Similar to the Access HD and Apex for styling and functionality, and similar in function to the Microgem, but with different styling.

LASONIC LTA-260

Picture quality. Picture quality was among the best, close to what you see with a good DVD.

Audio. Although the audio output is good, the RF's output volume is noticeably lower than its left/right audio stereo outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. One of the smaller models. While the run time and program title for the currently tuned program are available on the info bar, there is no program guide to give information about coming shows or other channels. There is only a power button on the front of the box so you cannot even change the channel without the remote. Also, there are no options for adjusting the size, font, or color of the closed-caption text, a capability offered by most other tested boxes. Among the few boxes we've seen that does not allow you to tune in a channel directly, but only by performing the more time-consuming scan-for-all-channels. It has a detachable power adapter and is Energy Star-compliant.

Note: Similar to the Sansonic in styling and functionality.

SANSONIC FT300A

Picture quality. Picture quality was among the best, close to what you see with a good DVD.

Audio. Although the audio output is good, the RF's output volume is noticeably lower than its left/right audio stereo outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. One of the smaller models. While the run time and program title for the currently tuned program are available on the info bar, there is no program guide to give information about coming shows or shows on other channels. There is only a power button on the front of the box so you must use the remote for everything, even changing the channel. Also, there are no options for adjusting the size, font, or color of the closed-caption text, a capability offered by most other tested boxes. Among the few boxes we've seen that does not allow you to tune in a channel directly, but only by performing the more time-consuming scan-for-all-channels. It has a detachable power adapter and is Energy Star-compliant.

Note: Similar to the Lasonic for styling and functionality.

ACCESS HD DTA1010D

Picture quality. Picture quality was among the best, close to what you see with a good DVD. It had a minor flaw that only the fussiest might notice: If you're watching a downconverted HD wide-screen program letter-boxed to fit your squarish screen, images are stretched vertically to a slight extent.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and line-level left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. Program guide provides show descriptions for several hours of programming for the currently tuned channel. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel, the on-screen signal meter allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So, if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. It has a Smart Antenna connection.

Note: Similar to the Tivax and Apex for styling and functionality, and similar in function to the Microgem, but with different styling.

MICROGEM MG2000

Picture quality. Picture quality was among the best, close to what you see with a good DVD. It had a minor flaw that only the fussiest might notice: If you're watching a downconverted HD wide-screen program letter-boxed to fit your squarish screen, images are stretched vertically to a slight extent.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. One of the smaller models. Its program guide lists the program title and run time for several hours' worth of programming for the currently tuned channel but does not provide show descriptions. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel, the on-screen signal meter allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So, if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. It has a detachable power adapter, and its software can be automatically updated.

Note: Similar to the Tivax, Access HD, and Apex for functionality, but with different styling.

CHANNEL MASTER CM-7000

Picture quality. The best picture quality we've seen so far when using the S-video output, which eliminated "dot crawl" noise at the edges of colored objects, making details and edges look sharper. Using the composite-video output, picture quality was close to what you see with a good DVD.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. One of the few models with an S-video output. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. Its program guide provides show descriptions for several hours of programming for the currently tuned channel. When first turned on, there is no auto setup feature, so initial setup and channel scan aren't as easy as on other models that have this feature. Among the few boxes we've seen that does not allow you to tune in a channel directly, but only by performing the more time-consuming scan-for-all-channels.

COSHIP N9988T

Picture quality. Picture quality was a small step below that of the top boxes but still better than most analog broadcasts for standard-def content. With downconverted HD content, some flaws (such as jagged edges) were noticeable.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. The program guide presents program title and run-time info for the current and next show on all available channels, with a show description available for the currently tuned program. It has the basic aspect ratio settings, plus a "Set by Program" option that automatically adjusts the aspect ratio depending on whether the digital signals are standard-def or high-def (which an analog TV would display as standard-def). Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel, the on-screen signal meter allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible, but does not have a button on the remote control dedicated to turning closed captions on and off, so you have to go through the menu. When first turned on, there is no auto setup feature, so initial setup and channel scan aren't as easy as on other models that have this feature. The LED status indicator lights are very bright, especially the red standby LED, which may be annoying at night. It comes with A/V cables (composite-video and stereo audio) but no RF cables.

Note: Similar to the Zenith, Insignia, Winegard, and Venturer in functionality, but with different styling.

VENTURER STB7766G

Picture quality. Picture quality was a small step below that of the top boxes but still better than most analog broadcasts for standard-def content. With downconverted HD content, some flaws (such as jagged edges) were noticeable.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. One of the smaller models. It has the basic aspect ratio settings, plus a "Set by Program" option that automatically adjusts the aspect ratio depending on whether the digital signals are standard-def or high-def (which an analog TV would display as standard-def). Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel, the on-screen signal meter allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. However, an aspect ratio control button is not available on the remote, requiring you to use the onscreen setup menu to make an adjustment. When first turned on, there is no auto setup feature, so initial setup and channel scan aren't as easy as on other models that have this feature. While program information for the currently tuned program is available on the info bar, there is no program guide to give information about coming shows or shows on other channels. It has a detachable power adapter.

Note: Similar to the Winegard in styling and functionality, and similar to Zenith, Insignia, and Coship in functionality, but with different styling.

PHILCO TB100HH9

Picture quality. Picture quality was a small step below that of the top boxes but still better than most analog broadcasts for standard-def content. With downconverted HD content, some flaws (such as jagged edges) were noticeable.

Audio. Both audio outputs provide good audio, but the RF's output volume is noticeably lower then its left/right audio stereo outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. It's one of the few boxes with analog pass-through, which allows the TV's RF input to tune to off-air analog channels while the box tunes to digital channels. There are no buttons on the console so you must use the remote to do everything, including turning the box on and off. The electronic program guide presents the program title, run time, and brief summary of shows for several hours of programming on the currently tuned channel. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel, the signal meter provided in the menu allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. However, the remote lacks a button for turning closed captions on and off, as well as one for adjusting the aspect ratio, so you have to go through the menu.

Note: Similar to Magnavox for styling and functionality but it's white, where most other boxes are black.

Magnavox TB100MW9

Picture quality. Picture quality was a small step below that of the top boxes but still better than most analog broadcasts for standard-def content. With downconverted HD content, some flaws (such as jagged edges) were noticeable.

Audio. Although the stereo left/right audio output provides good audio, the RF output's volume is quite low, which causes a noticeable hiss if you raise the TV's volume.

Features. The electronic program guide presents the program title, run time, and brief summary of shows for several hours of programming on the currently tuned channel. Also, there are no buttons on the box itself, so you won't be able to do anything if the remote is lost. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel, the signal meter provided in the menu allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. However, the remote lacks a button for turning closed captions on and off, as well as one for adjusting the aspect ratio, so you have to go through the menu. It is Energy Star-compliant.

Note: Similar in styling and functionality to Philco and the Magnavox TB100MG9, but lacks Analog Pass-Through.

ARTEC T3A PRO

Picture quality. Picture quality was a small step below that of the top boxes but still better than most analog broadcasts for standard-def content. With downconverted HD content, some flaws (such as jagged edges) were noticeable. (Note: you must adjust the box's out-of-the-box settings to get optimal picture quality.)

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. One of the smaller models. Its program guide presents the program title and run time for the current and next show on all available channels, with a show description available for the currently tuned program. This box has its own picture setting controls (contrast, brightness, and hue), unusual for a set-top box. However, its default picture settings are poor, causing a loss of any near-black shadow details and colors that are noticeably off; these can be quickly adjusted for a better picture. It has the basic aspect ratio settings and can also automatically adjust the aspect ratio depending on whether the digital channel is in standard-def or high-def resolution. But an aspect ratio control button is not available on the remote, requiring you to use the onscreen setup menu to make an adjustment. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel, the on-screen signal meter allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So, if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. Closed caption has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. It has a detachable power adapter.

Insignia NS-DXA1

Picture quality. Picture quality was a small step below that of the top boxes but still better than most analog broadcasts for standard-def content. With downconverted HD content, some flaws (such as jagged edges) were noticeable.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. The program guide presents program title and run-time info for the current and next show on all available channels, with a show description available for the currently tuned program. It has the basic aspect ratio settings, plus a "Set by Program" option that automatically adjusts the aspect ratio depending on whether the digital signals are standard-def or high-def (which an analog TV would display as standard-def). Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel, the on-screen signal meter allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. The universal remote can turn your analog TV on and off. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. It comes with A/V cables (composite-video and stereo audio) in addition to the usual RF cables. It is Energy Star compliant.

Note: Similar to Zenith in styling and functionality, and similar to Coship, Venturer, and Winegard in functionality, but with different styling.

Zenith DTT900

Picture quality. Picture quality was a small step below that of the top boxes but still better than most analog broadcasts for standard-def content. With downconverted HD content, some flaws (such as jagged edges) were noticeable.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. The program guide presents the program title and run-time info for the current and next show on all available channels, with a show description available for the currently tuned program. It has the basic aspect ratio settings, plus a "Set by Program" option that automatically adjusts the aspect ratio depending on whether the digital channel is in standard-def or high-def resolution. The universal remote can turn your analog TV on and off. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel the on-screen signal meter allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So, if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. It comes with A/V cables (composite-video and stereo audio) in addition to the usual RF cables. It is Energy Star-compliant.

Note: Similar to Insignia for styling and functionality, and similar to Coship, Venturer, and Winegard in functionality, but with different styling.

DISH NETWORK DTVPAL

Picture quality. Picture quality was generally comparable to that of a good analog broadcast with digital standard-definition programs. But downconverted HD broadcasts are soft and lacking in detail, more comparable to VHS (videotape) than DVD quality.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and line-level left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. One of the smaller models. The only box so far with a program timer: allowing you to program up to five instances in which the box will turn on and tune into a specific channel at a certain time. That enables you to record digital off-air broadcasts onto a VCR or other recording device, but you cannot program the box to turn itself off. One of the few boxes with analog pass-through, which allows the TV's RF input to tune to off-air analog channels, but only when the box is in standby or not tuning to digital channels. It has a more advanced program guide that provides show descriptions for several hours' worth of programming on all available channels. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel, the on-screen signal meter allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So, if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. There are no buttons on the console so you must use the remote to do everything, including turning the box on and off. It has a detachable power adapter.

WINEGARD RC-DT09

Picture quality. Picture quality was a small step below that of the top boxes but still better than most analog broadcasts for standard-def content. With downconverted HD content, some flaws (such as jagged edges) were noticeable.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. One of the smaller models. It has the basic aspect ratio settings, plus a "Set by Program" option that automatically adjusts the aspect ratio depending on whether the digital signals are standard-def or high-def (which an analog TV would display as standard-def). An aspect ratio control button is not available on the remote, requiring you to use the onscreen setup menu to make an adjustment. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel, the on-screen signal meter allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. When first turned on, there is no auto setup feature, so initial setup and channel scan aren't as easy as on other models that have this feature. While program information for the currently tuned program is available on the info bar, there is no program guide to give information about coming shows or shows on other channels. It has a detachable power adapter.

Note: Similar to the Venturer in styling and functionality. Similar to Coship, Zenith, and Insignia in functionality, but with different styling.

APEX DT250

Picture quality. With downconverted HD, this model is capable of producing picture quality that comes close to a good DVD. It had a minor flaw that only the fussiest might notice: If you're watching a downconverted HD wide-screen program letter-boxed to fit your squarish screen, images are stretched vertically to a slight extent. Its S-video output provides an even better image by eliminating the "dot crawl" noise that appears at the edges of colored objects when using composite video. With the "dot crawl" noise removed, edges and details become sharper. But with standard-def content there was visible stretching and blurring of the image.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and line-level left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. One of the few models with an S-video output. Program guide provides show descriptions for several hours of programming for the currently tuned channel. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel, the on-screen signal meter allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So, if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. There is only a power button on the front of the box so you cannot even change the channel without the remote. It has a Smart Antenna connection and comes with A/V cables (composite-video and stereo audio) in addition to the usual RF cables.

Note: Similar to the Tivax and Access HD for styling and functionality, and similar to the Microgem for functionality, but with different styling.

RCA DTA800B*

Picture quality. Picture quality was a small step below that of the top boxes but still better than most analog broadcasts for standard-def content. With downconverted HD content, some flaws (such as jagged edges) were noticeable.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. The electronic program guide presents the program title and run time for the current and next show of all available channels, with a show description available for the currently tuned program. Its universal remote allows you to turn on and off, change the video input, and adjust the volume of your analog TV. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. It only provides two aspect ratio settings, letterbox and zoom (though the government requirements indicate it should have a third full or partially zoomed ratio). An aspect ratio control button is not available on the remote, requiring you to use the setup menu to make an adjustment. Among the few boxes we've seen that does not allow you to tune in a channel directly, but only by performing the more time-consuming scan-for-all-channels. It has a Smart Antenna connection and is Energy Star-compliant.

* This model is being replaced by the DTA800B1, which adds analog pass-through and other features. We've seen it online for $70 to $90.

MAGNAVOX TB100MG9

Picture quality. Picture quality was a small step below that of the top boxes but still better than most analog broadcasts for standard-def content. With downconverted HD content, some flaws (such as jagged edges) were noticeable.

Audio. Although the stereo left/right audio output provides good audio, the RF output's volume is quite low, which causes a noticeable hiss if you raise the TV's volume.

Features. One of the few boxes with analog pass-through, which allows the TV's RF input to tune to off-air analog channels while the box tunes to digital channels. The electronic program guide presents the program title, run time, and brief summary of shows for several hours of programming on the currently tuned channel. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel, the signal meter provided in the menu allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible, but does not have a button on the remote control dedicated to turning closed captions on and off, so you have to go through the menu. An aspect ratio control button is not available on the remote, requiring you to use the onscreen setup menu to make an adjustment. There are no buttons on the console so you must use the remote to do everything, including turning the box on and off.

Note: Similar to Philco TB100HH9 and Magnavox TB100MW9 for styling and functionality. Identical to Philco but costs $40 more.

DIGITAL STREAM DTX9950

Picture quality. HD content produced a picture quality that was a small step below that of the top boxes but still better than most analog broadcasts, despite some flaws that may go unnoticed (depending on the content). But with standard-def content there was visible stretching and blurring of the image.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. One of the few boxes with analog pass-through, which allows the TV's RF input to tune to off-air analog channels, but only when the box is in standby or not tuning to digital channels. The electronic program guide presents the program title, run time, and brief summary of shows for several hours of programming on the currently tuned channel. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel the on-screen signal meter allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So, if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. Its universal remote allows you to turn on and off, change the video input, and adjust the volume of your analog TV. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. It is Energy Star compliant. Note: Similar styling and functionality as Digital Stream DTX9900. Similar functionality to Digital Stream DSP7500T, but includes analog pass-through with different styling.

DIGITAL STREAM DTX9900

Picture quality. With downconverted HD content, picture quality was a small step below that of the top boxes but still better than most analog broadcasts, despite some flaws that may go unnoticed (depending on the content). But with standard-def content there was visible stretching and blurring of the image.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. The electronic program guide presents the program title, run time, and brief summary of shows for several hours of programming on the currently tuned channel. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel the on-screen signal meter allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So, if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. Its universal remote allows you to turn on and off, change the video input, and adjust the volume of your analog TV. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. It is Energy Star-compliant.

Note: Similar functionality to Digital Stream DSP7500T, but has different styling. Similar functionality and styling as Digital Stream DTX9950, but with no analog pass-through.

DIGITAL STREAM DSP7500T

Picture quality. With downconverted HD content, picture quality was a small step below that of the top boxes but still impressive, better than most analog broadcasts, despite some flaws that may go unnoticed (depending on the content). But with standard-def content there was visible stretching and blurring of the image.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. The electronic program guide presents the program title, run time, and brief summary of shows for several hours of programming on the currently tuned channel. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Additionally, if no signal is found on a particular channel the on-screen signal meter allows you to monitor its strength as you optimize the antenna position. So, if you know a channel exists, you can tune to it and adjust your antenna until the signal is strong enough for the box to tune it in. Its universal remote allows you to turn on and off, change the video input, and adjust the volume of your analog TV. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. It is Energy Star compliant.

Note: Similar functionality to Digital Stream DTX9900 and DTX9950 but has different styling (it costs $10 more, but has no additional features).

GE 22730

Picture quality. Picture quality was generally comparable to that of a good analog broadcast with digital standard-definition programs. But downconverted HD broadcasts showed visible coarseness of image detail, with strong jaggies on image edges.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. It has a more advanced program guide that provides show descriptions for several hours' worth of programming on all available channels. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible.

Note: Similar styling and functionality to GE 22729 but lacks Smart Antenna jack. Similar functionality to Goodmind, but with different styling.

GOODMIND DTA 1000

Picture quality. Picture quality was generally comparable to that of a good analog broadcast with digital standard-definition programs. But downconverted HD broadcasts showed visible coarseness of image detail, with strong jaggies on image edges.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. It has a more advanced program guide that provides show descriptions for several hours' worth of programming on all available channels. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. It has a Smart Antenna connection.

Note: Similar functionality to GE 22729 and 22730, but with different styling.

GE 22729

Picture quality. Picture quality was generally comparable to that of a good analog broadcast with digital standard definition programs. But downconverted HD broadcasts showed visible coarseness of image detail, with strong jaggies on image edges.

Audio. It delivers good audio from its RF and left/right audio outputs (which you'd use with the composite-video out).

Features. It has a more advanced program guide that provides show descriptions for several hours' worth of programming on all available channels. Allows you to directly tune to a new digital channel without having to do a scan-for-all-channels. Has adjustable font, size, color, and transparency of the closed-caption text and its background in order to make it more or less visible. It has a Smart Antenna connection.

Note: Similar in styling and functionality to the GE22730, but adds a Smart Antenna jack. Similar in functionality to Goodmind, but with different styling.


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