290 of 300 people found the following review helpful
Pretty good, but not outstanding,
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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:
- 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
- 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.
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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
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
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
Amazon Customer says:
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