Info On SDTV And HDTV External ATSC Tuner Boxes For Use With Outdoor/indoor Antenna's - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 03-26-2008, 09:56 PM
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Default Info On SDTV And HDTV External ATSC Tuner Boxes For Use With Outdoor/indoor Antenna's

The following information is for people that use a indoor or outdoor TV antenna to watch TV in the USA.



Brief recommendations on what external ATSC tuner is right for you

Many people are already aware that February 17th 2009 is the scheduled date when most or all NTSC analog signals will be turned off. This will only affect people that are using an indoor or outdoor TV antenna for over the air broadcasts.
My first recommendation is that for people that currently own a low cost 20 inch or 13 inch TV with only a NTSC tuner that they should replace the TV with a new model. Currently a 20 inch TV with a built in ATSC/QAM tuner can be purchased at Walmart and other stores for under $150 and a 13 inch for under $120. Adding a converter box to an existing TV can cost the same or more then purchasing a new TV for $100-$150. For example if one chooses the cheapest converter box for around $50 and then they are going to need cables for around another $20. Plus if their TV only has one component, S-Video, or composite input that is currently in use (like a DVD player) then an external A/V switcher box needs to be purchased for $30+ with more cables for $20+ dollars. With all the add on cables and the cost of a A/V external switcher box it would be so much easier and better quality to purchase a new low cost 20 inch or 13 inch TV.
The external ATSC tuners currently available on the market offer many different types of outputs. There are basically two types of ATSC tuners on the market. The first type is called a SDTV digital tuner which is for people that own a standard 480I NTSC TV set or 480I monitor. The second type of ATSC tuner is the true HDTV quality tuner for people that own a HD monitor or older HDTV without an ATSC tuner. All of the SDTV tuners will accept a 1080I, 720P, 480P, and 480I ATSC signal and down convert the quality to 480I quality (Some models of SD ATSC converters offer 480P with 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround). All the HDTV tuners have all the features of a SDTV tuner with the added benefit of offering native 720P and 1080I quality. The electronic on screen program guide is a standard feature on most external ATSC tuners. Only a select few SDTV and HDTV external tuners offer QAM. The QAM feature turns ones analog cable ready TV into a Digital cable ready set and is only useful for people that are connected to cable TV.

Upgrading a 480I NTSC TV to ATSC 480I

480I RF CH 3-4 output only converter boxes with mono sound

Possible by the end of 2008 there might be some very cheap SD 480I ATSC tuners for under $30 or $40 that only have one RF output and no other types of outputs. I have seen specs for a Sansui ATSC tuner that offers only a RF output. This is the cheapest type of connection and offers the worse picture quality. This connection should only be used for people that do not own a TV/monitor (TV with only an antenna connector also know as RF input). This type of output on these boxes converts the ATSC digital stereo signal to an analog 480I NTSC signal with mono sound. One just places the TV on channel 3 or 4 to receive the programming.

480I composite output converter boxes with analog stereo sound

For under $50 or $60 there are several ATSC tuners on the market that offer a RF connection and a composite video output with true stereo sound. The composite connection is much better quality then using the RF connection. Audio and video are separated on different cables when composite is used. One needs too own a TV that has a video and audio input to use this type of connection. For a mono TV two RCA cables are needed and if one has a stereo TV then 3 RCA cables are needed. Also an external switch box is needed with additional cables if all inputs on the TV are currently in use.

480I S-Video output converter boxes with analog stereo sound

For around $60 some companies are offering ATSC converter boxes with an S-Video output. The S-Video output is better quality then composite video. When one has an S-Video input on their TV it should always be used over composite video. S-Video separates the color information and brightness information (Y/C). Using S-Video will bypass the comb filter in ones TV and is a nice improvement over composite. All that is required is one S-Video cable and two RCA cables for stereo sound. Of course if all the S-Video inputs are used up then one needs to purchase an external A/V switching box with additional cables.

480I/480P Component video output converter boxes with 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital output

When one reaches the under $80 level they can purchase the top of the line SD 480I ATSC tuner boxes. For example Coby offers the DTV-1000 SDTV box for under $80 that offers component video outputs. Component video outputs are the best analog connection available. Component video is even better quality then S-Video and also bypasses the TVís comb filter. These component output converter boxes offer programming in 480I and many models like Coby also support 480P for true progressive 480P EDTV displays. Also with the digital output 2.0 Dolby Digital and 5.1 Dolby Digital surround can be heard with a surround sound receiver. Of course 5 RCA cables are required for component video. 3 RCA cables for video and 2 RCA cables for analog stereo if an external surround receiver is not going to be used.

Upgrading a 720P, 1080I, 1080P TV to true HD quality resolutions

1080I/720P Component video output converter boxes with 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital output

For people that own an older HDTVís or HD monitor they will want to purchase a true HD ATSC tuner that outputs native 720P and 1080I over the air broadcasts at full 720P and 1080I quality. A HD ATSC tuner has the option to also down convert to 480I quality and has all or most of the older connections like S-video and composite video for people that want to connect the box to a standard 480I NTSC TV. The cheapest HDTV convert box costs only $20 more compared to the top of the line SDTV converter boxes. For example the Coby DTV-140 HD set top box sales for under $100 and offers 1080I and 720P quality over component video connections. To use this box one needs to purchase 5 RCA cables. 3 RCA component cables for 1080I /720P video and 2 RCA cables for analog stereo. To get 5.1 Dolby Digital surround an external surround receiver needs to be connected to the digital output. Also if one already has their component video input jacks being used by a DVD player or another device an external A/V component video switcher needs to be purchased with additional cables.

1080I/720P HDMI output converter boxes with 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital output

For under $160 the top of the line true HDTV tuner boxes can be purchased. For example the Samsung DTB-H260F offers true 1080I and 720P output using the HDMI output. The HDMI connector replaced the older DVI connection (DVI is no longer available on any current in production external ATSC tuner). The advantage of HDMI is that the quality is better then component since the signal is sent digitally to the TV or display. Also with HDMI you only need one small cable for both video and audio. Before the days of HDMI and DVI one needed to have 5 RCA connectors to connect to their TV set. Now of course a coaxial or optical connection needs to be made to an external surround receiver to hear 5.1 surround sound if the program is broadcast in 5.1 instead of 2.0 stereo. A HDMI switcher box with additional cables needs to purchased if all the HDMI inputs are already in use.

The SDTV and HDTV external ATSC tuner boxes are excellent for someone that wants to upgrade their existing TVís. As I mentioned before if one already owns a low cost older 20 inch or 13 inch NTSC only TV it would be wiser and better quality to spend $100-$150 at Walmart on a new model TV that contains a built in ATSC/QAM tuner. The quality of the 480I TVís with built in ATSC tuners is the same quality as using an external 480I tuner connected by component or HDMI style connections. It is nice to have the tuner built in since it takes up less space and does not tie up any inputs on the TV. Also when people purchase the external ATSC tuners and cables the price is close to a new low cost TV. In fact the price can cost more then a $100-$150 new TV with built in ATSC if an external A/V switch box and extra cables is needed. The SDTV 480I tuners can also be used with old S-VHS and DVD recorders to record in near 480I quality (not a perfect copy). Use the S-Video connection to record close to 480I quality. To record in perfect no loss 1080I and 720P quality onto an old D-VHS machine a IEEE-1394 interface is required. Currently all HDTV ATSC external tuners lack the IEEE-1394 interface (Samsung use to make one and hopefully more companies will start offering boxes with this nice feature).
When Feb 2009 hits there could be a shortage of TVís and converter boxes to purchase. With some estimates as high as 20 or 30 million people in the US needing to purchase new equipment it could help improve the economy in 2009. Also if 20 or 30 million people all at once needed to purchase new equipment it will most likely cause a shortage of TVís and converter boxes that could last several months. It is possible if there is a shortage of equipment to purchase in 2009 that some consumers will switch to analog cable TV or satellite instead. No one knows for sure how big of problem the Feb 17th analog cut off date will be.
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Old 03-27-2008, 06:18 PM
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Real world example why upgrading to a new 20Ē RCA or other brand TV for under $150 would be better.


Most people that have a good working TV that they have been using for many years with an antenna will keep the TV especially if they paid $200 or more for it A real world example of why buying a 20 inch RCA or other brand for under $150 at Walmart would be better then keeping a old low cost 20 inch TV. A friend of mine a couple years ago or a year and a half ago purchased a 20 inch Magnavox Stereo 4:3 NTSC flat CRT TV for around $120. The best quality input on that TV is a component input jack and there is only one component input. Currently he has a DVD player connected to the 480I component input. This friend of mine in order to get the best quality with a SDTV ATSC tuner converter box would need to get an $80 model that has component video outputs since all the lower cost ones do not offer component outputs. Some converter boxes do not come with cables and the ones that do most of the time only have RF and composite cables. My friend does not want to disconnect his 8 year old Pioneer DVD player from the TV. He wants both the DVD player and ATSC converter box plugged into the TV using component video inputs.The problem is he only has one componet input and it is in use with the Pioneer DVD player. The cheapest remote control component video switcher box is $50 and then we are talking about at least another $40 for cables unless he goes with some off brand component cables. So the cost to add a ATSC tuner to his 20 inch TV he paid $120 for will be $175+. He could go purchase a new 20 inch name brand flat CRT TV for $150 and get better quality and at the same time save money. Since the ATSC/QAM tuner is built in no extra cables or switch boxes are needed. He just plugs his existing Pioneer DVD player into the unused component input on the new TV.
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Old 03-28-2008, 03:20 AM
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The Samsung DTB-H260F is the best true 1080I ATSC tuner model on the market with HDMI output. It will output 1080I, 720P, 480P, and 480I which is rare to find these days with all the low cost external 480I SDTV tuners on the market.

The Samsung appears to also have QAM (but no IEEE-1394 for perfect 1080I and 720P digital recordings).

The marketing department at Samsung should not have missed the important QAM feature. According to the official Samsung spec sheet the QAM feature is not mentioned at all and one would think this unit is an ATSC only product.
http://media.onecall.com/Image_Produ...260f100506.pdf


Now if one looks at the official manual it clearly mentions the QAM feature on page 28 and other areas of the manual. It does not mention if the tuner tunes both 64QAM and 256QAM formats. So I do not know how good the unit is unless I actually ran some tests on it. I have seen some QAM tuners that do a poor job of locating and tuning in some unencrypted MPEG-2 channels. This Samsung can be found on the Internet for under $160 new. One can purchase it at Best Buy also for a little bit more then mail order with the advantage of a 30 day return policy.

Official Samsung Manual link that mentions QAM feature
http://downloadcenter.samsung.com/content/UM/200610/20061012132223296_1012_DTB-H260F_MF68-00414A_book.pdf

I currently own a HDTV with a built in ATSC/QAM tuner. I also have a JVC 1080I D-VHS machine with a built in ATSC tuner but no QAM tuner. I wish Samsung or another company would make a 1080I external box that offered both QAM and an IEEE-1394 interface so that I could record in 1080I quality from the several in the clear unencrypted QAM channels. I prefer watching BLU-RAY 1080P movies and do not subscribe to any of the movie channels, but once and a while it is nice to record stuff off cable for other family members that watch cable. My only option appears to be to rent a HD cable box so that I can use the IEEE-1394 interface located on the cablebox. Since I mostly watch BLU-RAYís renting a cable box would be a waste of my money.
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Old 02-16-2009, 05:27 PM
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June 12th is the official digital transition date for full power US TV stations

(Some TV stations will switch early, starting on Feb 17th )

http://www.tvpredictions.com/dmess021209.htm

Only consumers that receive 100% of their TV programming from satellite or cable TV service will not be affected by the June 12th transition to digital most likely. (It is the responsibility of the cable company and satellite company to make sure they are ready to receive the local over the air broadcast channels when the switch occurs). At a future date some cable companies will switch from NTSC to 100% digital QAM but they will notify their subscribers before doing that. Verzion FIOS is already 100% digital QAM and Dish Network and Direct TV have always been 100% digital.

Now for consumers that receive all or some of their local broadcast channels with an indoor or outdoor TV antenna then they will need to own an ATSC tuner between Feb 17th and June 12th. Unless there is another delay for the switch, in theory on June 12th all full power existing NTSC analog TV stations will switch to 100% digital ATSC. The problem is many stations are going to switch as early as Feb 17th which will cause some people around the country to lose a few channels somewhere between Feb 17th and June 12th.

The 480I ATSC digital converter boxes only cost around $39.99 (some models cost around $50-$75). Some consumers that were able to get two free $40 coupons from the government now have two free 480I DTV converter boxes. Other consumers with an old HD display have purchased under $100 true 1080I HD ATSC converter box for their TV. Some consumers have made the decision to replace their TV set with a low cost TV with a built in ATSC tuner. Super Walmart stores have 14 inch 480I CRT RCA TV's with a built in ATSC/QAM tuner for only $114.97. Also a 22 inch VIZIO 1080P LCD TV with a built in ATSC/QAM tuner can be purchased at a few retail stores for under $300.

Perhaps the switch to digital will help the consumer electronics industry as millions of new converter boxes, TV's, and DVD recorders are sold with an ATSC tuner. This digital transition might help jump start the economy a little.
It is estimated that several millions of consumers this year will be purchasing converter boxes, TV's, and DVD recorders that contain an ATSC tuner so that they can watch their local channels. Of course most consumers will choose to get a $40 converter box (free if they were able to get a coupon). Still many people that have a twenty year old TV or a very old VCR might decide it is time to upgrade and get a new DVD recorder or TV set with built in ATSC tuner.
It is too bad the Feb. 17th transition date was moved to June 12th. The TV manufactories are waiting to get rid of inventory. DTV Converter box manufactories and TV manufactories were counting on Feb 17th as the digital transition deadline. Delaying the transition to June 12th costs the industry more money.

Tomorrow is Feb 17th, if the FCC does allow as many as 368 stations to go digital early then between Feb 17th and June 12th the sale of DTV converter boxes and TV's will start to rise. Then on June 12th with 100% of existing full power stations scheduled to go digital demand for DTV converters, TV's and DVD recorders should greatly increase.


This entire switch to digital is going to cause a lot of confusion, especially with the partial switch delay until June 12th.
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:23 AM
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Between noon and at 11:59PM today 421 TV stations are switching to 100% ATSC digital only. The rest will switch between now and June 12th in theory.


News
421 TV Stations Switch to Digital Today
The stations are switching prior to the mandatory date.
By Swanni


http://www.tvpredictions.com/dswitch021709.htm

Last edited by HDTV1080P; 02-17-2009 at 09:00 PM.
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Old 02-17-2009, 09:01 PM
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DTV Switchover on Track as Midnight Approaches


http://www.tvweek.com/news/2009/02/d..._to_be_run.php
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Old 02-18-2009, 09:39 PM
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DTV Switch: Early Reports Encouraging, But Look Out...

http://www.tvweek.com/news/2009/02/d...orts_encou.php

DTV Switch: 5 Mil Homes Not Ready

http://www.tvweek.com/news/2009/02/d..._mil_homes.php
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Old 02-20-2009, 01:08 PM
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Top DTV Call Category Is Over Reception Issues


""Thanks to the movement of the deadline, we did not have anything like the extent of disruption we would have experienced had every station in the country gone completely digital on Tuesday," he said."

http://www.broadcastingcable.com/art...ion_Issues.php
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Old 02-23-2009, 01:21 PM
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Why Is the Media Lying About Digital TV?
The nation's leading publications are unwilling to challenge local broadcasters and other industry heavyweights.
By Swanni

QUOTES

"After roughly 36 percent of local TV stations switched early to all-Digital TV signals last week, the FCC received more than 70,000 complaints in the first two days."

"An Oklahoma City station said it received more than 900 calls from complaining viewers in the first two days. The Providence Journal reports that the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association was swamped with so many complaints that reporters were unable to get through for more than 10 minutes at a time."

"Other local stations from WSTR in Cincinnati to several stations in Nebraska have reported an overwhelming number of angry callers. And a 70-year-old man in Missouri actually shot his TV because he couldn't figure out how to use his digital converter box."

http://www.tvpredictions.com/media022209.htm
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Old 06-05-2009, 12:28 PM
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One week to go before the switch !!! It will be fun to watch when the madness begins.
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