Compare and Review Digital TV Equipment Ratings


Digital TV Surfing Slow as Hell

Don't blame that box for the fact that you can't channel surf at a decent speed...

This is a limitation imposed by digital broadcast technology. Gone are the days when you can just click away and surf the channels as fast as you can press the buttons on your remote.

Channel latency - also known as zap time is the total time it takes from the moment the viewer presses the channel change button, to the point where the picture of the new channel is displayed and the sound is activated. These kinds of delays exist in all television systems, but they are much greater in digital television broadcasts and it takes a lot longer to view the channel you just surfed to.

You may recall from the Questions page that digital TV can recover from small pieces of missing or garbled signals and guess what the missing pieces are. This is done through buffering and codec factoring. To accomplish this feat, your set must sample a bit of the digital signal, decode it, verify it's accuracy and if necessary, correct the signal, and then display it on the screen and send the audio portion to your speakers. There's a lot going on here and it takes some time to do all these things.

There is no way around this (at this point in time) and it's one of the trade-offs to digital broadcasting. Frustrating - yes! My advice: Accept, Adapt, Adjust.

BTW, this is yet another reason to pick a box that has an exceptional EPG (electronic program guide). Reduce the need to surf by knowing which program you want to watch and surfing directly to that channel. The Lasonic LTA-260 is a good choice for this feature - provides you with a description of upcoming shows for all channels over the next few hours.

RCA DTA800 - Wal Mart's ONLY TV Converter Box

image of rca dta800b converter box

RCA's DTA800 converter box isn't the only converter box available...

However, it's the only one most big box stores carry. So a lot of people will buy this digitial tv converter box because it's there. Which isn't bad, because the RCA DTA800 has analog passthru although it lacks a universal remote control such as the
Insignia NS-DXA1.

Apex DT502 Reviews - WTF (What's the Fuss)?

Lot of buzz about the Apex DT502 and even more confusion about its brother the Apex DT-250.

I don't understand what all the fuss is about. The DT-250 has gotten some pretty poor ratings; Mostly for lack of analog pass-thru and just a regular remote control instead of the more desirable universal remote. Also gets poor marks for the picture quality of standard definition television - HD reception is good however. One last ding for this unit is that it's no longer available so maybe that's a good thing.

The DT502 (too easily confused with DT-250 - why model numbers are so close is beyond me) is a step above in picture quality over its predecessor but suffers from the same remote control issues. This unit has a software update but that update prohibits the manual addition of a station. If you plan to use a rotor, this updated box will cause you headaches. and lastly, it's no longer available at most retailers as well so again, this is a good thing.

Are All TV Converter Boxes Created Equal??

image of an idiot
What a idiotic question - but I hear it all the time.

Of course there are differences between boxes. Just look at price points and all the manufacturers - even the numerous model numbers for any given manufacturer. THAT alone should tell you there's a boat load of differences.

The trouble however, is trying to decipher what differences and features are most important to you. Not everyone has the same needs or requirements.

It's surprising how many people just buy the first thing shoved under their noses. Not only are there differences between features and options, there are some major differences with the interior guts of these things. Some of them chips inside those boxes do some great things - other's just fill up space on the logic boards.

Before you make a purchase decision, it would be worthwhile to visit the
Questions & Answers page to learn about these contraptions, and then scoot over to the Converter Boxes page and compare the different models to find one that best suits your needs.