Thursday, March 13, 2008

We test 'em: digital converter boxes

(Above: A digital converter box in MPT's break room. Easy to install! And kinda cute!)

In less than a year, we’ll be saying goodbye to analog TV. But you don’t have to buy a new set to continue watching free, over-the-air television.

I’ve been doing some research that I’d like to share with you. My $40 coupons towards the price of a digital converter box have arrived. They look just like credit cards complete with an expiration date, which is approximately 90 days from the date you receive the card. With the card comes a list of merchants in your area who have the decoders along with “rules” for using the card. In this area, converter boxes are now available at Best Buy, Circuit City, Radio Shack and Wal-Mart.

Best Buy is selling the Insignia NS-DXA1 converter box; Circuit City and Radio Shack are selling the Zenith DTT900. The Insignia and Zenith boxes, manufactured by LG are the identical (except for the logos) with a retail price is $59.99. Wal-Mart is selling the Magnavox TB100MW9 for $49.87.

Is there a $10.12 difference? In my opinion, there is. The Magnavox decoder does not include audio and video cables and you cannot change channel without the remote. The Magnavox remote is not user friendly and doesn’t have the ability to mute or control the volume level on your TV where as Insignia/Zenith/LG come with full function remotes.

In my test, all the boxes were able to acquire the same digital signals. Setup is easy; each box has a built-in tutorial or an 800 number to call for assistance. Antenna placement may be critical for an acceptable signal, but when done correctly, the digital picture is crystal clear.

Go buy a converter box now and start enjoying digital television on your old analog set. It’s easier than you think!

George Beneman
VP Technology


tsemmes said...

I got my converter from for $21.99 + the govt coupon, with free shipping. I get more channels with a better picture quality than before. Some channels that I could not get before now are crystal clear.

DTV Converter Needed said...

Tsemmes what model did you get? I have heard a lot of bad things about a lot of different models and was wondering which one you got since you said yours worked really well.

Anonymous said...

I bought the Zenith converter and lost more than half of the chanels that I recieve without it.

Jezebel said...

got the zenith as well and have yet to be able to pull anything off the tv...
maybe its my antennea