by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
In response to my article “Setting Up Your Digital-to-Analog Converter Box” (July 15, 2008) , a reader supplied some more valuable information.
The most recent issue brings up the topic of the Digital TV conversion. There are a couple of things that the web sites do not mention, I thought your readers might like to know what I have learned.
1. Do not use the coupon(s) initially to buy a converter box. If you decide to return the box, you will probably not get the coupon value returned even though the store gets paid for redeeming the coupon.
I had to return two boxes after testing each one at my home. One didn’t receive digital signals on two stations in my area. Another had such a bad user interface and remote control that I deem it to be less than useful.
When I decided on the converter box I liked, I took it back to the store and effectively returned it and bought it again this time using the $40 coupon. The store people understood this tactic very well.
Be sure to check out all of the features you will use, especially the closed caption setup if you need it. Not all boxes are easy to set up for these options.
2. Attaching a converter box to a VCR will not allow you to use the VCR programming features to change the channel during a recording session. For example if you want to set your VCR to record channel 2 from 7 to 8 PM, and then record channel 4 from 8 to 9 PM, this will no longer work with the converter box supplying the TV channel signal. You have to preset the converter box to the channel you want to record and then program the VCR to record on the input channel (such as channel 3 or 4 or the line input) for the amount of time you want to record. Changing the channel selection on the VCR will cause it to record nothing since the converter box is supplying the TV channel signal to channel 3, 4, or line input.
I have not found any Digital TV converter box that will change channels at a programmed time.
There are a few DVD and VCR boxes that have digital tuners that will allow you to program them like you are used to with your older analog VCR. These cost more than $200.
3. If you do decide to use the two converter box setup (one for the TV and one for a VCR), be sure that the two converter boxes are from different manufacturers (not just different brand names but actually different manufacturers). If you have two from the same manufacturer, there is a very high probability that the remote control from one will work both boxes. There is even the possibility that one remote from a different brand will operate both boxes—change the channel on the box connected to the TV and the channel on the box for the VCR will probably change too.
There are also other possible issues with antenna signals (UHF), older splitters and amplifiers, as well as, using older cable from the antenna to the converter box that could be a problem setting up a digital TV converter box.
I hope your readers find this useful.
I’m sure they will. Thanks so much Steve for your insights on this issue!