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GPB Staffers report on Converter Box

1. I installed the Zenith digital converter box on my TV. I had no trouble connecting the cords, but I had trouble getting the menu on my TV. I realized that I had to switch my TV to video mode, which was not in the instructions. I actually called the Zenith helpline and was told that the wait was 19 minutes. Way TOOOO long.

But once I figured out how to get the menu up on the screen it was very self explanatory and easy to use. I got a total of 26 digital channels. That's a lot more TV than I have now.

The most unfortunate thing is ,however, that I was unable to get GPB. I called TV master control and was assured that we are sending out a digital signal. Not having GPB on my TV is my main concern going forward. If I invest in a converter box I will no longer be able to watch GPB. It is a very tough decision. I have two TV's and I'm thinking of leaving one on Rabbit ears until February. After that I'll have to weigh my options.

Susanna Capelouto

2. How I [almost] learned to love the DTT900

I was curious to try it out because I'm currently a basic cable subscriber and I'm hoping that the quality and variety of signals coming over the air with digital might save me that monthly fee. My first problem was that I'd lost the antenna to my TV so I had to buy one. Once it was attached, I discovered that the only signal I pick up over the air is GPB - and that badly.

The next step was installing the converter box, which was incredibly simple, and I watched eagerly as it installed the channels - and that was my next problem. It skipped over Channel 8. The channels that do come in - including PBA - are crisp and clear but I'm evidently in a GPB dead-zone. I live in Grant Park in 30312 - not far from Susanna, who had the same problem. I have very poor cellphone reception in my house, so I wouldn't have been surprised to get no over the air signals at all, but it was only GPB that was missing. Not good!
I reattached my cable in time to see part of Job Fair in all its glory.

I'll return the box to Nancy. I have two converter box coupons I apparently won't be using if anyone needs them!

Carol Fisk

3. I purchased a Converter Box at Walmart, Magnavox TB100 MG, $49.00, with my coupon, it was $9.00. So I splurged on the digital antenna and bought the RCA 1818 GM, flat, multi-directional antenna, $42.00. Hook up to my old TV was very simple. I do get channels, 2, 5, 11, 36, 69,and 17. I do not get channel 46.

I do get channel 8 most of the time. There are some time when I get "No Signal" message - seems to depend on the atmosphere.

Bix Doughty

4. I borrowed one of the Zenith boxes we had here. Setting up wasn't too much of a problem. I used the regular analogue antenna I usually use for my "open air" broadcast television - it's an older Terk TV5. Most channels came in immediately. There wasn't a need to "find" channels or anything. I usually don't get GPB that well - living near the Druid Hills/Candler Park area - and this was no exception. My house is surrounded by a few big trees and bigger houses, so I wasn't sure if that played a role. I was able to take the antenna outside - literally moving the little thing out onto the roof with some extra coax - I was able to get GPB. Somehow, WSB and "Retro TV" (channel 2, et al) was lost. So I had a choice when flipping channels: PBS or ABC, outside or inside. I suppose with a better and larger antenna, it'd be better.

Ryan Fowler

5. Installing the DTV conversion Box

5 Minutes to digital TV from analog! The picture quality improved 150%. I live in Lawrenceville about 2 miles from Gwinnett Place Mall. I installed the Zenith converter box on TV set that gets the worst reception in the house. Open the box put one end of the black wire put it into the antenna in on the TV and the other end into the converter box (TV RF). Turn the power on both the TV and converter box. Stop! Don’t miss the note in the instructions that says, “If you connected the TV to the TV (RF) jack, the TV must be tuned to channel 3. Otherwise, you will not see a picture.) Missing this step will cause you to miss the automatic walk through which takes you through auto tuning, time zone, language, and aspect dimension. You can do this yourself by pressing the menu bottom. I missed this on the previous set up on my set upstairs.

I have a Magnavox converter on my other TV set. There was no difference in the set up time or results. The remote on the Zenith slender, fits more comfortably in the hand than the Magnavox. Each had the battery included for the remote. I did call customer support because I missed the note I mention above. They weren’t very nice, but I made them talk to me by telling them that I was an old lady who couldn’t see very well.

By the way hubby did all the connecting; I just did the menu setup (hardware and software team). Now that we know that a converter box will help the reception on the downstairs set, off to get another converter box. By the way, I did have two coupons. I bought the Magnavox at Wal-mart for $49.99 (now they can’t keep them in.) Next stop, Best Buy; they have a lot of boxes – the brand that they had was Insignia. It appears to be Best Buy’s brand that they had Zenith to manufacture for them. They are identical boxes and remotes. The Best Buy converter box cost $59.99.

Jennie Wells

6. I had the digital converter for a couple of weeks at the end of July. The converter and antenna were relatively easy to set-up, of course I have many years of engineering (cable TV and Broadcast) experience. The off-air reception is not that great since there are so many trees in our area. I liked the antenna because it also amplified the signal. After a little tuning I was able to get a good picture, however, the picture was cropped at the top and the bottom, 16 by 9 viewing format. What a didn't like was that I was not able to change/select the viewing format. Anyway, the family enjoyed the improved picture quality since we decided to go without cable for the summer. I tried the antenna on my Hd set in the basement... poor reception is what I got and expected. The only other big disappointment was that at no time was I ever able to tune in GPTV 8.1, 8.2, nor 8.3. The great thing about HD from off-air is that you get a lot of bandwidth compared to the compressed signal you get thru cable or satellite. When you have a good signal there is nothing like Digital /HD. I guess I'll have to put an antenna in the attic. Thanks for the sample use of digital equipment. I have my coupons and soon a new converter.

Robert Church

7. This is Amanda Scott, and I borrowed a converter box from Nancy and brought it home and tried it on my very old GPX TV! Needless to say, I didn't receive any channels. Now, im not sure if it has anything to do with the reception in the area I live in or the kind of converter box I had, because I tried another company's box and it worked. I received 15 channels. Some local channels have additional channels as well as local Atlanta commercial programs and the Retro Television Network!

Some channels are still a little distorted though. I noticed when a helicopter flew above my home that the picture is affected by distortion as well. The best benefit was a clearer picture.

Amanda Scott

8. I have had a digital TV for a couple of years -- plus I have a couple of old Analog sets in my bedrooms. I applied for one of the Digital Conversion coupons for those (only asked for 1--should have asked for 2 coupons!). Got my coupon and bought a converter box at Circuit City ($59 - $40 coupon = $19 cost). I have several sets of amplified rabbit ears in my condo in Smyrna that I have used to receive digital over-the-air programming. I can get the four major networks -- including the RTN network on Channel 2's digital .2 channel and Channel 11's weather on .2 -- I also get 17, 36, 30, 34 and 63. I have tried and tried to get GPB digital without any success. (Can't get 14 or 57 either). I hope Charter will eventually add GPB HD to their digital cable lineup so I can finally see GPB in HD (as well as the digital subchannels when they start).

Tom Barclay

9. Most other channels came in all or most of the time. Sometimes WPCH (channel 17) and WPBA (channel 30) would drop out, but it wasn't that bad. I could always play around the antenna and it'd come in... just like I always have to so with the analogue signal.
Otherwise, the picture quality was amazing on my 7-8 year old TV. My TV can adjust to 16x9 for additional inputs (mid-model Sony Wega), so I was able to trick the signal into a little better picture. The image adjustment will have to take a while getting used to - one show would be 16x9, the next one would be 16x9 but airing in SD (so "postage stamped"), and then another would be 4x3. It was always one more thing to adjust to watch properly.

I liked the clearer picture, but still haven't applied for any of the coupons or anything. I'm usually an early adopter, but have been waiting for prices to come down a little more. (There's something about spending that much on a TV gets to me...) I look forward to having a clearer picture and a few more "free TV channels" than I have now.

Ryan Fowler