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Old 01-05-2009, 03:21 PM   #1
JuryDuty
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Question Which of these DTV Converter Boxes is best for my situation?

I've been searching on the forums and found many opinions about converter boxes, but can't seem to locate a definitive answer.

Which would be best converter box for quality of video and ease of use with a Series 2 TiVo on a widescreen HDTV?

I'd like to find a converter that can easily be controlled by my TiVo remote, and I've narrowed it down to these:

Channel Master CM-7000 10092
Insignia NS-DXA1 10090
Philco TB100HH9 10101
RCA DTA800 10087
Tivax STB-T9 10103
Zenith DTT900/DTT901 10090

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-05-2009, 04:09 PM   #2
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I do not think there is significant picture difference on these converter boxes. Videophiles may pick some things apart but really these boxes are not menat for high end systems anyways

so look for features you may want like smart antenna.
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Old 01-05-2009, 04:13 PM   #3
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I don't have a smart antenna, just an indoor antenna--but it picks up HD signals perfectly.

I was leaning toward the Channel Master since it has s-video out. But the Tivax and Insignia seem to be very popular choices. LOL too many choices and it gets confusing.
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Old 01-05-2009, 04:19 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by JuryDuty View Post
I don't have a smart antenna, just an indoor antenna--but it picks up HD signals perfectly.

I was leaning toward the Channel Master since it has s-video out. But the Tivax and Insignia seem to be very popular choices. LOL too many choices and it gets confusing.
svideo out is probably your best bet to decide on
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Old 01-05-2009, 04:24 PM   #5
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I just got my TV Converter Box Coupons from the government (hey, this is about the only hand out I've ever gotten, so I wasn't going to pass it by). I figured I'd get them and get two of them for my Series 2 Tivos so that in the future I could still use them with an antenna if I wanted.

Do you know if these you listed will work with the Tivo IR controller? One thing I noticed on the list they sent was that it says the ChannelMaster will NOT passthrough analog signals, and I've heard that some smaller low powered stations are going to be allowed to stay analog so you'd lose those on a non passthrough box.

So which box is best to work with a Tivo Series 2?
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Old 01-05-2009, 04:25 PM   #6
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Meritline has one for free (after coupon). Not sure if that'll fit your needs.
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Old 01-05-2009, 05:21 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by convergent View Post
Do you know if these you listed will work with the Tivo IR controller?
From the research I've done, the boxes I listed are the best of the converter boxes that work with the Tivo IR controller and your TiVo remote right in Tivo's setup. Here's the complete list (click on Converter Boxes to see which ones are supported).

Here's the PDF that tells you how to do it.

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Old 01-05-2009, 06:13 PM   #8
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Analog pass through doesn't matter, to the TiVo anyways.

The TiVo would be set for box only, which tunes only digital channels.
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Old 01-05-2009, 07:35 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by classicsat View Post
Analog pass through doesn't matter, to the TiVo anyways.

The TiVo would be set for box only, which tunes only digital channels.
Ah! Good to know--the analog pass through was something I was debating about. Well, that pushes me toward the Channel Master CM-7000 then. It gets the best reviews for picture though it lacks those "extra" features.
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Old 01-05-2009, 07:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JuryDuty View Post
I've been searching on the forums and found many opinions about converter boxes, but can't seem to locate a definitive answer.

Which would be best converter box for quality of video and ease of use with a Series 2 TiVo on a widescreen HDTV?

I'd like to find a converter that can easily be controlled by my TiVo remote, and I've narrowed it down to these:
Don't rule out ditching the S2 altogether and getting a TiVo HD. Yes, it's more money, but it:

* natively tunes, so no need to worry about IR blasters, and tuning the external tuner; the associated lag/delay
* easily controlled by your TiVo remote
* more storage space than the S2 (assuming unmodded) See the rest of the thread. The TiVoHD is likely less space with digital recordings
* if the S2 isn't lifetime, the HD can replace its monthly service charges (meaning your net monthly costs are the same)
* the DTV STB would be single tuner even to a S2DT; the Tivo HD has dual OTA tuner support
* will have better quality of video than a DTV STB -> S2 -> HDTV
* as well as all the features of the HD: M-Card support, Netflix Watch Instantly, etc.

A few years ago I tried piggy-backing my S2 behind the cable STB and I was so frustrated by the command lag of the S2 controlling something else (and the screen being taken up by the STB display and the TiVo display) that I went back to native analog cable to the S2. No, you can't use the government coupons (too bad!) and it's pricier, but it's more future proof and will work better out of the box. That's worth the extra $100 to me.
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Old 01-05-2009, 09:23 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by TromboneKenny View Post
Don't rule out ditching the S2 altogether and getting a TiVo HD. Yes, it's more money, but it:

* natively tunes, so no need to worry about IR blasters, and tuning the external tuner; the associated lag/delay
* easily controlled by your TiVo remote
* more storage space than the S2 (assuming unmodded)
* if the S2 isn't lifetime, the HD can replace its monthly service charges (meaning your net monthly costs are the same)
* the DTV STB would be single tuner even to a S2DT; the Tivo HD has dual OTA tuner support
* will have better quality of video than a DTV STB -> S2 -> HDTV
* as well as all the features of the HD: M-Card support, Netflix Watch Instantly, etc.

A few years ago I tried piggy-backing my S2 behind the cable STB and I was so frustrated by the command lag of the S2 controlling something else (and the screen being taken up by the STB display and the TiVo display) that I went back to native analog cable to the S2. No, you can't use the government coupons (too bad!) and it's pricier, but it's more future proof and will work better out of the box. That's worth the extra $100 to me.
Dude, you tempt me! Actually, this is a pretty good argument since I think I missed the government coupon and may have to pay full price for the converters...so I could probably get a Tivo HD for only about $130 or so more... So many decisions...
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Old 01-05-2009, 09:34 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by JuryDuty View Post
Dude, you tempt me! Actually, this is a pretty good argument since I think I missed the government coupon and may have to pay full price for the converters...so I could probably get a Tivo HD for only about $130 or so more... So many decisions...
If you are planning to go OTA, you should strongly consider the TivoHD.

Last I looked, you could still get one for $208 shipped. Just login to your account at TiVo.com and click "change service number." Replace the S2 service number with the TivoHD service number and you're all set.

Don't underestimate the benefit of dual tuners with full HD.
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Old 01-06-2009, 11:04 AM   #13
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Just one word of caution on upgrading to TiVoHD versus Series 2...

Storage space will become an issue with TiVoHD. Sure it says it's got like 180 hours, but that's only for analog signals in Standard Definition. Once you go digital like I did with an OTA antenna, the HD unit is limited to 20 hours of content and you CANNOT change quality settings to increase space available. All digital television content is being recorded at the best quality setting regardless.

I was unaware of this when I purchased my HD unit. But I've worked around it with the Insignia converter box on my Series 2. This way the better quality OTA digital signal is down-converted to standard definition so I still get my 80 hours available to me on that unit. If I decide I want to increase the HD space, it's either having to put in a new hard drive or get the DVR Expander.

Just my two cents.
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Old 01-06-2009, 02:31 PM   #14
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The above poster is correct in that you are unlikely to be satisfied with 20-25 HD hours capacity. On the HD TiVo forum, there are stickied instructions to upgrade the TivoHD to 75+ HD hours for about $60 and 157+ HD hours for about $100. So account for that on top of the $208 purchase price.
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Old 01-06-2009, 03:00 PM   #15
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The above poster is correct in that you are unlikely to be satisfied with 20-25 HD hours capacity. On the HD TiVo forum, there are stickied instructions to upgrade the TivoHD to 75+ HD hours for about $60 and 157+ HD hours for about $100. So account for that on top of the $208 purchase price.
Excellent posts guys. I do like the fact that I could always upgrade later if I just got the basic unit now. I'm still debating as it IS still a couple hundred dollars out of pocket we hadn't counted on. But MAN do I want one. :P
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Old 01-06-2009, 04:49 PM   #16
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Excellent posts guys. I do like the fact that I could always upgrade later if I just got the basic unit now. I'm still debating as it IS still a couple hundred dollars out of pocket we hadn't counted on. But MAN do I want one. :P
I have a TiVo HD with extended cable and OTA (30$ circuit city antenna) with no cable cards. Even the little indoor antenna gets a good picture and being able to do analog cable is a nice bonus. I highly recommend it as the forward looking solution.

I will say that I had a DVR expander that went belly up and the stock drive is just not big enough at all. I have a 1 terrabyte Drive waiting for me to find the afternoon to do the upgrade though I do endorse your plan of waiting while as it makes sure the box is working OK first.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:42 AM   #17
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Another enormous benefit of the TiVoHD is the Netflix (and other streaming) capability for now or in the future.

I am using THDs in similar situations, and am upgrading from S2-240's to THDs. I started with a refurb from TiVo for $179. They let me change service numbers and keep my old $6.95/mo service.

I am upgrading the THDs' HDs right off - to 1TB in my case.
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:14 PM   #18
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For those in this situation like me, the funds have run out for gov't coupons for the converter boxes. You can get on the wait list still and as people don't redeem their coupons, they'll reissue them to you. Currently half the coupons go unredeemed. Story here.
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Old 01-07-2009, 10:20 PM   #19
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Mine were unredeemed since there was I think *1* kind of box in the stores back in June.. (and only recently have there been ones that were "free" after the coupon).
I sure wish they would re-issue expired ones!
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Old 01-08-2009, 02:20 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneKenny View Post
* the DTV STB would be single tuner even to a S2DT...
Not quite.

The dual tuner Series 2s don't support external OTA digital converter boxes.

The Series 2 upgraded software that allows OTA box control didn't get fed into the dual tuner models.

They were never meant for OTA anyway.

There are ways around it (the same methods that can be used to get Series 1s working with digital converter boxes), but generally speaking, you have to leave the DT Series 2s out of any discussion of converter box use.
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Old 01-09-2009, 04:47 PM   #21
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Personally, I would go with the Zenith DTT900/DTT901 10090.

The nice thing about this box is that it maintains the "zoom" setting chosen for each particular channel, as chosen through the remote in the original setup.

The menu also privides output to the widescreen format, so it would be good for the HDTV set.

Other boxes DO NOT save the zoom setting for each channel, so the recordings will vary on having or not having side bars.
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Old 01-12-2009, 12:14 PM   #22
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The menu also privides output to the widescreen format, so it would be good for the HDTV set.
But this wouldn't matter, would it? Because the TiVo is BETWEEN the converter and the HDTV set. So it could only be output to widescreen if the TiVo allowed.
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:25 PM   #23
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But this wouldn't matter, would it? Because the TiVo is BETWEEN the converter and the HDTV set. So it could only be output to widescreen if the TiVo allowed.
TiVo allows it.

And, I have this setup. It works perfectly.

When viewed, the recordings fill the entire screen on my Sharp HDTV.
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Old 01-12-2009, 09:23 PM   #24
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TiVo allows it.

And, I have this setup. It works perfectly.

When viewed, the recordings fill the entire screen on my Sharp HDTV.
Oh--right. You can set that in the Tivo setup menu, that you have a widescreen TV, right? Very, very cool.
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Old 01-13-2009, 12:22 AM   #25
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Oh--right. You can set that in the Tivo setup menu, that you have a widescreen TV, right? Very, very cool.
Not exactly.....

You set the output of the DTT900 as 16:9. TiVo automatically recognizes the signal as widescreen or "letterbox." When it is played back, the widescreen HDTV lets you zoom it to fill the entire screen without the bars.

The Advantage of the DTT900 is that it "remembers" the zoom you set for each channel, so it always fills the entire screen in the 16:9 mode.

I also have the Digital Stream 9950. Anytime that you change the zoom, you change it for every channel. If you record it with TiVo switching the stations, sometiimes you'll ge a lot of bars or a shrunken screen. On playback, you'll have to adjust the zoom for every recorded program.

With the DTT900, the screen almost NEVER have to be readjusted. ALL TiVo recorded programs will fill the screen, even the ones that I record off of my Dish Network 311.

So, unless the converter remembers every channel zoom setting, you'll be adjusting and readjusting again and again for each recorded program off of the converter box.

It's a no brainer. The DTT900 or DTT901 is the way to go.
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Old 01-13-2009, 12:38 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by ZeoTiVo View Post
I do not think there is significant picture difference on these converter boxes. Videophiles may pick some things apart but really these boxes are not menat for high end systems anyways
Picture quality between the converter boxes won't matter, anyway.

The box with the worst picture is better than the Series 2 in high quality mode can record.
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Old 01-29-2009, 04:11 PM   #27
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Not exactly.....

You set the output of the DTT900 as 16:9. TiVo automatically recognizes the signal as widescreen or "letterbox." When it is played back, the widescreen HDTV lets you zoom it to fill the entire screen without the bars.
But won't "zooming" inherently cause you to cut off some of the picture? Or is this a different kind of zoom than what I'm used to since it's widescreen? Usually if I choose to zoom something, it could fill the screen, but you'd still be cutting off the sides, in which case you're back to a 4:3 layout.

PS. Got my government coupons today--apparently they're renewing expired ones again!
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Old 02-09-2009, 01:18 PM   #28
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I opted for the Zenith dtt901. For those interested, Amazon has it back in stock this morning--it's pretty rare to find it anywhere anymore.
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Old 10-09-2009, 08:46 PM   #29
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I have a TIVO Series 1 which works for my purposes. Is there a list somewhere of converter boxes that I can control with the IR Blaster? What Comcast gave us is the DT50 which is a bunch of junk and doesn't work with the IR blaster. If I knew what to purchase I could at least be able to get TIVO to change the channel again and work.
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Old 10-09-2009, 08:58 PM   #30
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If you've got a series 2 with a converter box, you should probably get another box for your TV if it is analog. Check ebay for cheap converter boxes. Just let tivo use it's converter box for recording and use the second box for channel surfing.
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