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Question about OTA hi-def broadcasts and HDTV tuners

Old 01-17-06, 07:44 PM
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Question about OTA hi-def broadcasts and HDTV tuners

I just bought a new DLP set that has a built-in HDTV tuner and gave my older DLP that didn't have a tuner to my parents. My parents are old school and don't want cable. If I get them one of those external HDTV tuners, will they be able to get those over-the-air HD broadcasts from the networks (CBS, ABC, etc.) with their roof antenna? If so any suggestions on one? Thanks
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Old 01-17-06, 08:22 PM
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I use a Voom receiver (was a customer before they went under). I heard you can get them on ebay cheap.
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Old 01-17-06, 08:33 PM
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On ebay there are tons of Voom receivers. They say they are activated and good for HDTV. Does that mean you just hook it up to the TV and to the antenna and then you will get OTA HDTV for the life of the receiver? I guess I'm confused on what activated means.
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Old 01-17-06, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by matome
I just bought a new DLP set that has a built-in HDTV tuner and gave my older DLP that didn't have a tuner to my parents. My parents are old school and don't want cable. If I get them one of those external HDTV tuners, will they be able to get those over-the-air HD broadcasts from the networks (CBS, ABC, etc.) with their roof antenna? If so any suggestions on one? Thanks
That should work. Are you parents old school in not wanting cable in that they don't want to pay for it, or they aren't into new technology? If it's the latter, I would think that a cable box is MUCH easier to use to get HD channels than dealing with OTA.
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Old 01-18-06, 12:49 AM
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I also use a Voom box that I bought off ebay for OTA HD (I have Dishnetwork so the only way to get local HD is with OTA - at least for now).

After taking the time to do the initial set up it has the for the most part been trouble free. Some things to keep in mind,

go to antennaweb.org and see how far your signal is, type of antenna you would need, etc.
there is no HD antenna, any antenna will do, but you need to go to antennaweb for a starting point. In general for antenna's, bigger is better, higher is better
for the voom box, it must have been activated before voom went dark. Stay away from any "new in box" units. These won't work. I highly recommend e-mailing the seller and get the newest firmware possible. You cannot update firmware now. Make sure the auction or the seller states that the "unit can scan for local channels". If it is real old firmware you can't scan for channels, meaning it will only work in the area it was initially set up. You also want to make sure it comes with a remote. There are some universal remotes that will work on it, but for the initial set it, it is much easier with the OEM remote.
There is a lot of info on these boxes and it is a cheap way to get into HD
The only issue I have had with mine is the need for the occasional reset. I do this by turning off the unit and unplugging for about 5 minutes and plugging back in. This is needed perhaps once a month. But in my limited experience it happens when I don't use it for while. The more I use it, the less it needs this, or so it seems.

If you don't want to go the Voom route, there was a good deal on a refurbished LG STB with a built in DVD player. Think it was around $180, I'll see if I can find it if you are interested.
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Old 01-18-06, 10:35 AM
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Thansk for all the info guys.

Originally Posted by BobDole42
That should work. Are you parents old school in not wanting cable in that they don't want to pay for it, or they aren't into new technology? If it's the latter, I would think that a cable box is MUCH easier to use to get HD channels than dealing with OTA.
It's a combo of both. They just want to watch stuff like the George Lopez Show and Dancing With The Stars.


Sdallinct, thanks for the antennaweb info. I see Crutchfield has a Samsung tuner for $250, so I may look around and go that route. I've been burned a few times on Ebay and I'm especially leery of electronics purchases through them, particularly when something needs to be set a certain way.
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Old 01-18-06, 01:05 PM
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There's a $90 tuner at Radio Shack. User reports have been up and down, but not horrible.
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Old 01-18-06, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by matome
Sdallinct, thanks for the antennaweb info. I see Crutchfield has a Samsung tuner for $250, so I may look around and go that route. I've been burned a few times on Ebay and I'm especially leery of electronics purchases through them, particularly when something needs to be set a certain way.
Sucks you are soured on ebay as I use(or did up until Sept) a Voom receiver. I was a former customer and hung onto it. I'm keeping it for when I get an HD ready tv for the family room.
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Old 01-18-06, 05:30 PM
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Looks like the LG is OOS right now, but gets pretty good review for both HD STB and DVD player. It evidently goes and comes OOS.

http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?inv...te=LST-3510A-R
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Old 01-18-06, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Spiky
There's a $90 tuner at Radio Shack. User reports have been up and down, but not horrible.
Wow, thanks for the heads up on this. According to the RS website it's being discontinued, but is still available in some stores so I ran out and picked one up for the $90 (original sticker was still on the box for $250) and it works great! Build-wise the box is a little chintzy compared to the $500+ boxes out there and the remote has horrid range (it almost needs to be pointed directly at it), but the HD picture is actually damn good for free OTA. HDMI and gold plated connectors were a nice surprise though. I have an extra MX500 remote so I'll program that and give it to them as well.


Thanks again for everyone elses suggestions
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Old 01-18-06, 09:38 PM
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Great price, thought about picking one up for another room but not available in my area.

They also show a disnetwork HD DVR for $413 which is pretty darn good, but again not available in my area.
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Old 01-19-06, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by matome
Wow, thanks for the heads up on this. According to the RS website it's being discontinued, but is still available in some stores so I ran out and picked one up for the $90 (original sticker was still on the box for $250) and it works great! Build-wise the box is a little chintzy compared to the $500+ boxes out there and the remote has horrid range (it almost needs to be pointed directly at it), but the HD picture is actually damn good for free OTA. HDMI and gold plated connectors were a nice surprise though. I have an extra MX500 remote so I'll program that and give it to them as well.


Thanks again for everyone elses suggestions
No problem. Actually, OTA HD is probably the best signal you have available to you, unless you want to buy a DVHS player and some DTheater tapes.
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Old 01-19-06, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Sdallnct
Great price, thought about picking one up for another room but not available in my area.
Yeah, I just checked the site again this morning and the store I picked it up at is no longer listed, so there probably aren't too many still floating around in stock. It took the lady a while to find mine as well, as it was buried in the back room somewhere. Sucks that you can't get these through the website.
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Old 01-19-06, 04:06 PM
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For the folks who purchased the Voom receivers off ebay, what were your winning bids (not including shipping)?
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Old 01-20-06, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
For the folks who purchased the Voom receivers off ebay, what were your winning bids (not including shipping)?


Anyone?
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Old 01-20-06, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
Anyone?
Just do a search on eBay for completed auctions. It looks like they go for $100 on average (the ones that have the OTA card).

That said, you can get a NEW set top box for $100-200 no problem (and I'm sure you could find cheaper used). This route seems a lot safer (and close to the same price) than hoping you get a correctly activated Voom box off eBay.
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Old 01-20-06, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by mbs
Just do a search on eBay for completed auctions. It looks like they go for $100 on average (the ones that have the OTA card).

That said, you can get a NEW set top box for $100-200 no problem (and I'm sure you could find cheaper used). This route seems a lot safer (and close to the same price) than hoping you get a correctly activated Voom box off eBay.

The cheapest new ones I see on pricegrabber go for at least $150.
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Old 01-20-06, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
The cheapest new ones I see on pricegrabber go for at least $150.
Yeah, I just looked and it appears that is the going rate these days. Did manufacturers stop making OTA STBs? I ask because when I was in the market for one (middle of last year), there were many more choices.

I ended up with an RCA ATSC21 that I got from amazon for ~$125. It is now selling for $415. And there are many fewer models available. It looks like the market took a U-turn since I last looked. Guess I got lucky and bought at the right time.
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Old 01-20-06, 04:08 PM
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Other than the Radio Shack $90 model that is disappearing, $150 is the lowest price for new I've heard of. You must have gotten quite the deal on Amazon, or a refurb.
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Old 01-20-06, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
For the folks who purchased the Voom receivers off ebay, what were your winning bids (not including shipping)?
On my 1st one, I got the unit, card, remote AND antenna for $90
On my 2nd one, I got the unit with card (no remote, no antenna) for $35
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Old 01-21-06, 02:34 AM
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When I decided to get an HDTV tuner I tried for one of the $90 Radio Shack models, but they were already sold out in my area. I bought the Samsung one for $200 and really love the picture quality and the unit in general. I'm using an indoor antenna and get all the local channels in crystal clear. Considering Time Warner refuses to put Fox on in HD I was glad to finally get to watch some football in HD this season with the OTA box.
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Old 01-21-06, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by mbs
Yeah, I just looked and it appears that is the going rate these days. Did manufacturers stop making OTA STBs? I ask because when I was in the market for one (middle of last year), there were many more choices.

I ended up with an RCA ATSC21 that I got from amazon for ~$125. It is now selling for $415. And there are many fewer models available. It looks like the market took a U-turn since I last looked. Guess I got lucky and bought at the right time.
The lack of STBs makes no sense because STBs are being required by the government to complete the transition from NTSC to ATSC broadcasts in the next few years, so that anyone still receiving TV over-the-air can still get their TV channels. (Although these mandated STBs may possibly just downconvert everything to 480i and not output Hi-Def at all.)

And you did get lucky - I got an RCA ATSC11 for $122 from an eBay store a couple of months ago, but would've preferred an ATSC21 if it had been about the same price.
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Old 01-21-06, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by matome
I just bought a new DLP set that has a built-in HDTV tuner and gave my older DLP that didn't have a tuner to my parents. My parents are old school and don't want cable. If I get them one of those external HDTV tuners, will they be able to get those over-the-air HD broadcasts from the networks (CBS, ABC, etc.) with their roof antenna? If so any suggestions on one? Thanks
The answer to your question is yes. So go shopping online and search for "ATSC Receiver" or "ATSC Tuner" or just "ATSC" (ATSC stands for "Advanced Television Systems Committee" and is the official name of the newer Hi-Def over-the-air broadcast standard in the U.S.). Be sure to ignore anything returning from the search that's not a Set-Top Box tuner (such as ATSC computer cards), and see what's the best price you can get an STB for. The STB HD tuners are from a number of different manufacturers and the prices range from about $100 up to about $500, so really shop around to get one for a good price.

Also, you might see some of these STB tuners list having "QAM" in addition to ATSC. QAM is what cable companies are using instead of ATSC to send Hi-Def over cable lines. However, anyone who gets cable can just get a cable box to decode this, so although having it in a STB is nice, but it's not essential and is not something I would recommend paying extra for. (IMO, that is - others may disagree.)
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Old 01-21-06, 03:32 PM
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OK, just picked up another one of those Radio Shack tuners (floor model only at this store, but they gave me a free 2-year warranty extension) and connected it to a regular TV my parents had in the basement. Now (while it's not HD) the regular broadcast channels come in crystal clear instead of the horrid snowy mess and missing channels that was before. At that price it's a great bargain for those with no cable. My parents are in seventh heaven now!
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Old 01-21-06, 06:21 PM
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I bought the Samsung unit for like 250 a while ago. It's a great unit for OTA HD.
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