Customer Review

290 of 300 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, but not outstanding, February 10, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Zinwell ZAT-970A Digital to Analog TV Converter Box (for Antenna Use) (Electronics)
I've been playing around with three DTV converter boxes over the past three months (Magnavox DTV Digital to Analog Converter, TR-40 CRA by Dish Network, and this Zinwell), and none of them stands out above the rest. They all do about the same thing, providing excellent picture quality over their analog equivalents, and I can get 27/28 channels with a rooftop antenna in the Baltimore-Washington area. This Zinwell is the latest, and after about 2 months of testing it, here are my observations:

Pros:
- It has a power button and channel buttons on the front of the box in case you misplace the remote
- It displays signal intensity/quality meters each time you change the channel so you can adjust your antenna for best reception
- Internal firmware is upgradeable for future updates
- Built-in timer changes channels for extending the life of analog VCRs
- Great picture quality
- Analog pass-through (kind of)
- Volume control from this remote (based on TV's current max volume)
- Parental controls

Cons:
- Remote control is pretty flimsy
- Power cord is only 3' long so you may need an extension cord to reach a wall jack
- Analog pass-through signal is not as clear as without the box
- Picks up one less channel than the Magnavox on the same antenna
- Built in time clock slips a few minutes over a period of weeks; annoying if you're using it to provide programming to an analog VCR
- red LED to tell you it's "off" is an unnecessary waste of energy

Having spoken to others using various DTV boxes/setups, it seems like the deciding factor on how many channels you'll receive is what kind of antenna you're using. Those with rabbit ears inside the house get as few as 4-6 channels; my 18-year old stationary roof-top antenna gets 27-28 as of today.

Aug. 2011 UPDATE: It's been 3 years since I first wrote my review, and Amazon has now changed the product photo to one that looks nothing like the model I purchased in 2009. I don't understand why they wouldn't have given it a new model number if it totally changed; you may need to do some research.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 

Comments

Tracked by 7 customers

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-10 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 3, 2011 11:19:17 AM PDT
My Wish List says:
I'm in the same area as you. It's been 2 and a half years since you posted this review. What would you suggest I buy?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2011 12:10:06 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 3, 2011 12:13:19 PM PDT
Hi, Jessica.
Among the several models I've used, I think the the ones by Dish Network seem to consistently pull in the most signals and have the best features (like the TV Guide listings). If you can justify the additional cost, I'm really pleased with the DTV-Pal DVR which I purchased at Sears for $300 (now sold under the Channel Master brand as Channel Master CM-7000PAL Digital Video Recorder, Black. It's a Digital Video Recorder with two built-in tuners, so you can record one channel while you watch an other. Plus, it uses the Dish Network TV Guide signal to allow you to easily pick and choose shows to record, much the same way as a Tivo or cable company DVR--but there's no additional fee to use it. And the 30-second skip button is perfect for breezing past commercials. I haven't used a VCR since I got it.

Also, I have a 21-year old, stationary antenna on my roof, pointing NW, and 8-Port Bi-Directional Cable TV HDTV Amplifier Splitter Signal Booster with Passive Return Path in my basement. With this configuration, I now receive at least 50 channels in AA county, and there are as many as 20 others that sometimes show up.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2011 7:01:04 PM PDT
My Wish List says:
Wow I'm also in AA County. You really couldn't have been any bigger of a help! Thank you!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2011 7:58:15 AM PDT
Melita Link says:
Hi Steven, If I buy a new Digital Video Recorder to replace my VCR, do I still need a converter box to record over-the-air programs which I now receive with my indoor antenna, but which my VCR does not recognize. I'm in Canada where we did our switchover to digital TV 10 days ago and since then, I cannot record anything although I get several HD channels. Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 12, 2011 4:15:43 AM PDT
The DVR mentioned already has the 2 built-in digital converters, so you would not need an additional converter box.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 19, 2011 7:44:08 PM PDT
Shinwan says:
Hello Steven, I live in a condominium in Toronto, Canada where we did the switch over. What is the best indoor antenna I need in addition to the Zinwel TV converter box? Look forward to receiving your reply. Thank you

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 20, 2011 3:40:10 AM PDT
Hi, Shinwan. Unfortunately, I've only ever used these converter boxes with a rooftop antenna connection, so I've had no experience with indoor models. If I were you, I'd trust the Amazon reviews. Good luck!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2012 5:26:04 PM PST
So, the channel master thing acts as a DVR and you dont have to pay any outsiders to use it?

Please email me directly Flash33101@sbcglobal.net

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2012 7:00:38 PM PST
That is correct. The Channelmaster/DTVPal is an over-the-air DVR that requires no subscription.

Posted on Feb 24, 2012 5:09:16 PM PST
W. Brown says:
I have read that one needs a digital antenna to use with the analog converter. Is that needed?
Also, any trouble installing.? KenB
‹ Previous 1 2 Next ›

Review Details

Item

Reviewer


Top Reviewer Ranking: 9,161