NOTE: Although this product is listed as an "Analog to Digital Audio Converter" a more appropriate designation would be "Digital Broadcast TV Signal to Analog TV Signal Converter." It enables old analog TV sets to receive the new Digital TV Broadcast signals.
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THE FOLLY OF PROCRASTINATING
I delayed getting a converter box even though the conversion from old fashioned analog TV broadcasting to the new digital format was due to come within just a matter of days. I figured that the deadline would be stretched out because I couldn't be the only laggard in the US, and I was right -- the new deadline is in June 2009. What I didn't count on was that a couple of my local TV stations decided to quit analog broadcasting now instead of in June so I needed to get moving quickly.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
First I went to http://www.DTV2009.gov and signed up for the free (thanks to us taxpayers) coupons that will take $40 off the purchase price of an approved converter box. If you haven't done this do so immediately as this is a limited time offer. You are allowed up to two coupons per household.
WHY I BOUGHT ZENITH DTT901 CONVERTER BOX
Besides being a procrastinator I'm a pretty lazy fellow concerning some things, so it should be no surprise to the reader that I did some on-line searching for converter boxes and quickly found out that the well known Korean electronics manufacturer LG made a highly rated converter box that retailed as either the Zenith DTT901 or the Insignia NS-DXA1. So I went to my local Best Buy only to find out that they no longer had them in stock. Oops!
So I zipped back home to my computer, did a quick search, and found them at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001BNT3FS. They were in stock and priced at $59.95 with free shipping...and you can enter your coupon code right there at their website (but be careful to do so before you check out). Net cost was $19.95. Maybe you can do better, but don't procrastinate!
USING THE DTT901 IS SIMPLE
When the box arrives connect your antenna to it (it requires a single "TV cable" and will not take 2 wire leads from an antenna (you'll need a simple adapter)), run the included connector (a single "TV cable" or 3 RCA style cables) from the output connector to your TV (or old fashioned VCR), plug in the included power transformer, slip the included battery into the enclosed remote, turn your TV on and get started.
The converter box has a status light on its front side: Red means its in standby mode and Blue means its in active mode. If its showing Red use your remote (upper right hand button labeled "power") to turn the converter box on and the light will change to Blue.
Your TV should now display a "Welcome Message." Push the > button on your remote to go to the next step which is to pick the language you want displayed (Use ^ or v buttons to scroll through the choices which are English, Spanish, or French) and then push the > button for the next step...which is to select between display formats 16:9 for new style TVs or 4:3 for the old fashioned TVs.
Continue in this manner to automatically search for channels, select which time zone you live in, and finish.
The remote can also control your TV set's power, etc. but I didn't want to be bothered because I already have at least two remotes that will do this. Enough is enough! You can review all of those who-needs-them features (and there are quite a few of them: caption control, audio output(stereo or mono), lock system, block channel, content rating control, etc.) in the enclosed English/Spanish User's Guide.
GETTING THE BEST RESULTS FROM AN INDOOR ANTENNA
I have a "rabbit ears" style antenna, but it's a fancy one from Radio Shack in that it has a built-in amplifier to help pick up weak signals. Besides moving the "ears" around you can also turn a dial to tune the antenna's pickup.
Use your remote's channel up or down button to look at each of the digital TV channels that were acquired by the DTT901 earlier (if you don't want any particular channel go to the menu and "delete" the channel (you can always add it back in very simply if you want to later)).
For those channels that didn't look too good I changed the dial on my antenna to find which amplifier setting was the best. I then pushed the "signal" button on the remote (2nd row from the top, leftmost button). This displays a measure of how well a channel is being received. I used this to help find the optimal setting for the antenna amplifier.
Having optimized the antenna for the channels you want, select the Menu again (middle button, 3rd row down on your remote) then scroll down to the EZ Add item. Select this and the converter box will check to see if there are any additional channels that it might have missed earlier. In my case there were 4 channels in addition to the original 6 (I don't live in a big city so there aren't too many stations to start with). One of these new channels looked OK and had good signal strength, but the other 3 didn't come in very well. Since I really didn't want these channels anyway I just deleted them, but if I had wanted them I would have tried the EZ Add option for a different dial setting on my antenna (or I would have experimented by moving the rabbit ears around).
Now if you don't have an amplified antenna you can try moving the rabbit ears around to see if that helps you receive the channels. I tried that too, but I found out that they didn't have any noticeable effect whatsoever. So I just shortened them as far as possible so they were out of the way (and mostly out of sight), and there was no change in my reception.
I thought that maybe I didn't even need the amplifier in the antenna so I turned off the antenna's power. Indeed, for all but the very last station that I had added, everything still looked good. Turning my amplifier antenna's power back on brought that last channel back up to par.
An indoor Rabbit Ears antenna will probably pick up most of your channels, but if you are missing some that you really want you may need to upgrade your antenna. Your local TV/electronics store will probably have some suggestions.
The DTT901 does the job and it isn't overly complicated. Its also designed and maufactured by what I consider to be a reputable company.
Digital TV (DTV) provides a good quality picture on an old fashioned analog TV. You may not like the blanked out borders, but that's just the way its going to be with any converter box so you'll just have to get used to it or else buy a new digital TV (in which case you won't need this converter box). DTV also provides "bonus" features such as extra associated channels and a simple program guide. For instance, if you input the number 8 from the remote's keypad to select Channel 8 you might see that there is a choice between channels 8-1 and 8-2. You can actually put in the dash (-) from the remote's keypad, but if you don't have that many channels its probably easiest to just scroll up or down using the remote.
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