(This review consists of the original review and two updates. All contain some valuable information about my experience with this neat little converter.)
Not only does this converter provide an excellent digital TV signal for your old analog TV, it functions as a digital recorder and player of your favorite TV shows and other media. The USB port and your memory stick allow a convenient way to enjoy your recorded TV programs and play music, movie, and photo data. The converter seems to be more sensitive than my old one giving me an additional station and providing superior image quality. Use the supplied composite video/audio cable for the best image. Set up was pretty intuitive, which is a good thing since the instruction booklet was sub par. Do keep and read the booklet but use the Quick Installation sheet to get going. Then refer to the booklet and play with the Menu items to learn the finer details of using your box. It does not recognize Daylight Savings Time, so tell it you live in Canada and use Atlantic Time if you live in the Eastern US. You will need a fairly large memory stick if you intend to record much TV. It will allow you to record the program you are watching but apparently not another channel at the same time. It does allow recording your selected shows remotely while your TV is off. Do format your stick using the appropriate menu selection. I had problems recording until I did this. Allowing for a few quirks, this is an excellent piece of equipment especially given the price.
UPDATE: I have just purchased another of these units to replace a converter box(different brand)on another TV. With its recording ability and solid performance as a converter, it was a no brainer. Please take note that a firmware update is available from the distributor. You'll find that at mediasonic.ca under product forums. This update fixes the DST problem and a couple of other issues. It did seem that the image quality deteriorated slightly in the process, but I rescanned the channels, went through the converter setup menu, and tweaked the video settings in the TV menu and everything was fine once again. My TV is very old so it could very well have been the problem. Thanks Mediasonic for the update. It's nice to find a company still interested in customer satisfaction. If you're listening: What about offering additional remotes for sale? You know these things are notorious for getting lost or broken. And a his and hers wouldn't be a bad idea. Excellent piece of equipment now even better with the firmware update!
UPDATE: This update comes after owning this converter for over two months. My original conclusion has not changed - excellent little machine especially when you consider the price.
My second unit now operates solely as a recorder as I have replaced that TV with a new digital model. I use the HDMI out connection on the recorder to connect to the TV to play the program back. You'll have to purchase a cord, but it's worth it. The quality is identical to the original, and I find the recording process simple. It took a couple of tries at first but just read the manual and play with it on your own and you should have no problem. The following explains how to send the antenna signal through your unit and still use the TV's tuner. First you connect your coax antenna connection to the RF In and then set your unit to loop through the signal to the TV. Of course your unit has to be connected to the TV via the RF Out. To loop the signal, go the Menu and Channel Search. Under Channel Search, press RF Output until you see Loop. If you have your TV input set properly, you should be able to use your TV tuner to see all your channels and record on your unit. Looping the signal does reduce its strength somewhat so that a weak station may not come in. Since my TV in question is at the end of a 125' cable run and the signal is split, I lost too much signal to use this approach. I use a good quality mechanical A/B switch to accomplish basically the same thing albeit with a bit more trouble but less signal loss.
Judging from the Mediasonic.ca web site HomeWorx HW-150PVR forum, people are finding ways to use this unit to function with many equipment set-ups and having fun personalizing it for their own use. It won't do everything that people would like and it does exhibit a quirk or two, but it sure is a flexible machine for the price. And it's so nice not have those outrageous cable and sat. bills.
Mediasonic.ca has provided a company administrator for the forum site. There is a very sincere effort to provide solutions for problems and questions. Check out the forum for answers and info. How unusual for a company to provide a forum and administrator for a product that you can buy for under $50.00! Also the company is selling a replacement remote on their web site, $8.00 or $9.00 with shipping I believe. Fairly priced and good to have on hand.
Newer machines are shipping with updated firmware and a slightly different remote unit. Before you go downloading firmware from the forum site and installing it, make sure that you need to do that. It may cause some problems if done unneccesarily. Here again check the web site forum for assistance if you have questions.
As I mentioned in my original review, make sure you format your memory stick before recording. I noticed some people having recording problems that probably are because of this. Go to menu and under PVR Config. use the Format command.
It's always possible to get a lemon with any product, but both my units have been fine. Most reception problems a few people have complained about are likely due to antenna, wiring, or hookup sources. Anomalies in wiring and misplacement of the antenna can shutdown the reception on the best of equipment. I'd buy again.
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