Channel Master CM-7003 ATSC/QAM tuner and external digital video recording options - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 02-19-2017, 12:20 AM
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Default Channel Master CM-7003 ATSC/QAM tuner and external digital video recording options

There are some consumers that do not subscribe to satellite TV service or cable TV service. Instead these consumers in the United States use the built in ATSC tuner in their flat panel screen to pick up free local TV channels like FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, etc. Some consumers own projectors or flat panel monitors that do not have a built in TV tuner.

Channel Master makes a high-end dual ATSC tuner with streaming features for $399.99 plus free shipping from Amazon (This model is called CM-7500TB1). However according to the spec sheets there is no mention of the two tuners offering the QAM feature. The QAM feature is important for those consumers that have in the clear unencrypted cable channels. Therefore, for many people a $400 external tuner with no QAM features is a deal breaker, especially if their local cable company offers in the clear QAM channels. There is very few dual tuner models on the market that offer ATSC/QAM with no subscription fee, dual tuner models normally run around $200 or slightly under $200.

Channel Master CM-7003 ATSC/QAM tuner and external digital video recording options

The Channel Master CM-7003 is a new low cost ATSC/QAM tuner that was released in the United States around July 6th 2016 with a list price of only $49, and I was able to purchase it on Amazons website directly from Channel Master for only $34 with free shipping, which is a real bargain. One of the reasons why it does not cost $200-$400 like the competition, is because it only has one ATSC/QAM tuner and offers no streaming features. This is also called a subscription free tuner in the spec sheet since there is no subscription cost at all. Its amazing what one can get for $34 with free shipping. Included in the retail box is the CM-7003 converter box, user guide, power adapter, A/V cable, coaxial cable, and remote control with AAA batteries (the batteries are very low quality and cheap, but at least this product does come with batteries).

Hooking up the Channel Master CM-7003 was very easy. It offers one ATSC/QAM tuner and the ATSC/8VSB tuner works very well for MPEG-2 broadcast channels. I was not able to test this tuner with QAM, but according to the specs it supports 64QAM and 256QAM formats. In addition, the specs list both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 decoding for up to 1080P at 30fps for those that connect an optional USB flash drive or USB hard drive that has native 1080P video material (ATSC channels are always 1080i, 720P or 480i). If your local cable company offers in in the clear unencrypted cable channels that are in the MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 format, this CM-7003 box should in theory be able to decode both of those codecs.

The rear panel has a DC input with a AC power adapter that is included (a optional universal DC car adapter can be used with this product as long as the tip is positive and the adapter is set for 5volts DC). The rear panel has a HDMI output with video resolutions of 1080P, 1080i, 720P, 480P, and 480i. The HDMI output and the digital coaxial output will pass raw bitstream up to 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound (I verified HDMI does pass 5.1 Dolby Digital). For older SD equipment component video output, composite video/audio output, and modulated RF channel 3 and 4 is supported for very old SDTVís (channel 3 and 4 switch on the back). The RF input is for connection to an outdoor or indoor over the air broadcast TV antenna to access the ATSC tuner. For people that subscribe to cable TV channels that are offered in the clear and unencrypted, then using the one and only RF input for in the clear QAM channels is ideal. Basically since there is only one RF input, a consumer needs to decide if they want ATSC or QAM, one cannot have both. Those that have no cable TV service will never use the QAM tuner.

One nice thing about the remote control is that itís a learning remote control for basic functions like power, input, volume, and mute (For example if one is using a A/V receiver instead of their TV, they can program the remote control to operate the A/V receiver volume instead of the TV volume since again itís a learning remote for any IR remote on the market. There is no codes to enter since itís a 100% learning IR remote control.

The front panel has a power button and channel up and down buttons. There is a USB 2.0 port on the front of the ATSC/QAM converter box, however I would have rather had this USB 2.0 port in the rear instead of having to run a USB cable from the front to behind the cabinet. The ideal products on the market that use USB ports have one in the front and up to two or more in the rear. The USB 2.0 port is used for firmware updates, however I could not locate any firmware updates for the CM-7003 on Channel Masters website. I did try and connected a top of the line external 10TB hard drive to the USB port, however I found out that the maximum capacity of the existing firmware in the CM-7003 is to support only USB drives up to 2TB in size while using the MBR partition style (GPT partition style should not be used under the current firmware). Also the CM-7003 has its own built in format utility for FAT32 and NTFS (those are the two file systems supported and its recommended to use NTFS, FAT32 is there for operating systems that do not support NTFS).

The Channel Master CM-7003 is very fast at channel changing and overall the menus work good. However even when using a top of the line 2TB hard drive with a USB 3.1 interface, the channel master CM-7003 is slow when starting recording or time shifting. I did not time the exact amount of seconds it takes to record after hitting the record button, but as soon as one hits record a message comes up notifying the user that the box is getting ready to record. However the message box stays up there for like somewhere around 20-30 seconds before it disappears and actually starts recording the show in its native MPEG-2 video format for ATSC channels with the exact bit for bit recording quality as the original broadcast.

Overall for only $34 with free shipping I highly recommend the Channel Master CM-7003 for those consumers that only need one tuner recording. The advantage of the much more expensive two tuner boxes is that one can record two programs at once while watching a previously recorded program. Also one needs to connect a USB hard drive or USB flash stick to the device in order to be able to use the record feature. The multimedia feature allows one to playback photos, music, and movies from an external USB drive.


7003 Product Sheet

7003 User Guide

Here is a top of the line 2TB hard drive with USB 3.1 enclosure that one can use with the CM-7003 for around $120.98 with free shipping (must use MBR partition style with NTFS format)

StarTech USB 3.1 Generation 2 10Gbps hard drive enclosure S351BU313 DATA SHEET

StarTech USB 3.1 Generation 2 10Gbps hard drive enclosure S351BU313 QUICK START GUIDE

StarTech USB 3.1 Generation 2 10Gbps hard drive enclosure S351BU313 MANUAL USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) Enclosure for 3.5" SATA Drives - Supports SATA 6 Gbps(Newegg link, $40.99 with free shipping).

Surveillance HDD Data Sheet

SV35 Series Product Manual Seagate SV35 2TB hard drive (ST2000VX000)

Seagate SV35.6 ST2000VX000 2TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Surveillance Hard Drive Bare Drive (Newegg link, $79.99 with free shipping).

Last edited by HDTV1080P; 02-19-2017 at 12:34 AM.
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