Digital Set-top Box

Whether you like it or not, this summer your analog television will be completely useless unless you switch over to digital cable. This can seem like a hefty proposition, but with the right information, a government coupon to save $40 and some patience and open mindedness, you’ll be watching your favorite television channels in high-def in no time. The most important things to remember is to focus on functionality, make sure you can connect it when you get home, and don’t fall for the bells and whistles just for conversion.

As of June 12, 2009, anyone with an analog television will need a digital cable box because of the big transition. The U.S. government ordered the move, it says, to free up more analog broadcast space for emergency response systems and wireless broadband sales to enhance audio quality, to allow broadcasters to multicast and foster an environment where all services can work with all devices.

Some things to consider when shopping for a digital television converter is how the box can handle weaker signals, the quality of picture, any connection quirks, how (or if) it can change between widescreen and standard formats, and any useful bells and whistles that may be included. However, if you’re just trying to get your analog TV up to speed, you will not be better served by the fancier boxes, and you will not be able to use a government-sponsored coupon that gives you a $40 discount on the device (read on to learn more). Also, there appears to be little variation among the functionality and quality of picture in basic, normal circumstances without any complicated connections or devices.

Digital set-top boxes can be found at national retailers such as Best Buy, Kmart, RadioShack, Sears, Target, or Wal-Mart. You also may purchase them from online or telephone retailers such as Amazon or DISH Network. Other recommended companies include All American Direct, Antennas Direct, Cadence Sound System, Cerebral Cortech, Compu Parts and More, Comp USA, Consumer Electronics Group, Direct Depot, DTV Box Answers, E & E Electronics, eIndustries.biz, Home Theater Consultants, iNet Access, JtecDirect, Meritline Microtel Systems, Mosquito Productions, Newcast Satellite, Radio Superstore,SavingLots,Solid Signal, Summit Source, TigerDirect, The Twister Group, Velocity Technologies, Inc and Winegard.

Among on of the top digital set-top boxes for picture quality is the Channel Master CM-7000, as well as the Apex DT250. For those trying to record television on their VCRs, consider the Dish Network DTVPal or the TR-40 CRA, which include a VCR timer. Other top devices include the LG LSC230, the GE JASAV2273, the Magnavox TB100MG9, and the Digital Stream DTX9950.

The Slingbox SOLO lets you watch high definition television on your laptop or cell phone from anywhere around the world. With this device you can watch your digital cable, DVR, satellite television or DVDs anywhere and includes special programming, sports packages and subscriptions, at no extra charge. In short, anything you watch on your home television can be viewed on your laptop computer or cell phone with no monthly fees. Remote control is included in this device that supports Windows XP, 2000 or Vista, Mac, Windows Mobile, Palm and Symbian. If you own a PC, you will need 256 MB of RAM and 100 MB of available hard disk space, a 16-bit sound card, and 24-bit graphics card, and an Ethernet connection. If you own a Mac, you wil need a 600 MHz PowerPC G3 or later, or any Intel Mac, an OS X, 10.3, 10.4, 256 MB of RAM (but 1 GB is recommended), 1024X768 thousands of color display (millions recommended), and 100 MB of available space. If you are on a network, you will need a cable or DS modem, 256 Kbps or higher, video and component input and output, a USB port, and a network jack. This device comes with a 1 year limited parts warranty.

The Coby DTV-140 ATSC High Definition Set Top Box picks up over the air digital television signals free of charge and is compatible with all ATSC signal formats. This device outputs high definition signals and downconverts HDTV signals for standard and enhanced TVs. This device includes an on-screen program guide and weighs 3 pounds. The Philco TB100HH9 is a digital set-up box that has analog pass through. This is especially helpful in areas that offer programming by “low-power” broadcasters. This is considered an affordable option compared to other competitors, but the device is white as opposed to the typical dark grey or black.

Also keep in mind that Congress established a coupon program for people using digital set-top boxes instead of just purchasing a digital television. The $40 coupon can be accessed by contacting the federal government and filling an application by either visiting dtv2009.gov, calling 1-888-DTV-2009 or mailing the application to PO BOX 2000, Portland, OR 97208-2000.

This Digital Set-top Box Review is Written/Updated on May 21st, 2009 and filed under Consumer Electronics. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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