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  1. I've been using a digital video converter box on my analog TV ever since the digital transition. It worked fine until recently. I ended up buying a new one in hopes of solving the problems my old one have been giving me (picture breakup even with a strong signal, and then the sound/video going out of sync). Well, the new one worked better in some ways (keeping sound/video in sync), but the picture breaks up far more often, making TV programs unwatchable. So I switched back to the old one and will be returning the new one.

    Now I'm wondering if I should just get a new TV. They have their own tuner for digital signals. But here's my question: Do the tuners in the new TV's handle the signal better than a converter box does? I mean, as long as the signal is strong enough from my antenna, I don't want the picture to break up. With my old converter box, it breaks up sometimes, but not often. With the new box, it breaks up much more often, even with the antenna in the same position. What should I expect with the same signal strength going directly into a new digital TV?

    I'd just hate to spend hundreds of dollars on a new TV only to end up with the same problems that I had with the new box. If that's likely to be the case, I'll just stick with what I have now. But I thought I'd ask here of people who have had old analog TVs with a converter box and then made the upgrade to a digital TV and use it with an antenna.
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  2. Mod Neophyte Super Moderator redwudz's Avatar
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    Digital TVs don't have problems with 'picture breakup' with a digital TV signal. They either get a perfect picture or no picture.

    It's probably time to upgrade your TV. But shop around a bit, you may find a bargain for a new digital TV.
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    Originally Posted by redwudz View Post
    Digital TVs don't have problems with 'picture breakup' with a digital TV signal. They either get a perfect picture or no picture.
    Possibly that is true if someone is using the right outdoor antenna properly installed with appropriate pre-amplification.

    Those with an indoor antenna are likely to see "pixelation" at times. I notice significant picture disruptions when it rains or the wind blows hard enough to disturb surrounding large trees.
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  4. Dinosaur Supervisor KarMa's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by redwudz View Post
    Digital TVs don't have problems with 'picture breakup' with a digital TV signal. They either get a perfect picture or no picture.
    There certainly is an inbetween of pixelation and maybe audio problems, on a OTA ATSC tuner. This point of pixelation 14dB SNR, with 15dB being the minimum for most tuners. Probably the most common reason in my case of weird pixelation problems is when a helicopter is flying between me and the transmitter, and is a major source of noise.

    @OP
    In my experience, HDTVs tend to have better ATSC tuners than the converter boxes. And larger HDTVs have better ATSC tuners than smaller sub-20 inch HDTVs. This is just a generalization from my experiences with getting TV signals from 100 miles away.
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  5. [QUOTE=usually_quiet;2498824]
    Originally Posted by redwudz View Post
    Those with an indoor antenna are likely to see "pixelation" at times. I notice significant picture disruptions when it rains or the wind blows hard enough to disturb surrounding large trees.
    I hadn't thought about the trees being blown as causing the problem. I use an indoor antenna, and usually get strong reception which has puzzled me as to why the picture quality comes and goes at different times. Since I'm using an indoor antenna, I figured wind shouldn't cause any problems since the wind can't blow the antenna itself around. But I guess it can still blow the trees around.

    [QUOTE=KarMa;2498898]
    Originally Posted by redwudz View Post
    @OP
    In my experience, HDTVs tend to have better ATSC tuners than the converter boxes. And larger HDTVs have better ATSC tuners than smaller sub-20 inch HDTVs. This is just a generalization from my experiences with getting TV signals from 100 miles away.
    Thank you! I was thinking of getting something between 36" and 42", so it looks like I should be safe.
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  6. Dinosaur Supervisor KarMa's Avatar
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    Just be sure to buy a TV that actually comes with a ATSC tuner. Some of these screens don't come with a tuner and are usually called Displays on the box, but they are sold in the TV section. The FCC requires any product being sold with the name TV/Television to come with a ATSC tuner, so look for that. If it does not have a coax jack on the back then there is no tuner.
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  7. Don't see any reason to use a digital box if you have a digital TV unless your TV is the old analog input type...
    Last edited by teodz1984; 14th Oct 2017 at 22:38.
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  8. Dinosaur Supervisor KarMa's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by teodz1984 View Post
    Don't see any reason to use a digital box if you have a digital TV unless your TV is the old analog input type...
    True if you are talking about composite only outputs, which outputs the HD video as SD 4:3. But they have digital boxes now days that can output HDMI and can also use USB sticks to store recordings on. A super cheap kind of DVR for OTA content, without the need for a computer or a more expensive DVR. Recordings which can also be freely viewed without encryption on a computer and/or saved. They also have boxes like these for viewing free to air satellite content, for decoding MPEG2/H.264 content and providing power to the LNB feedhorn.
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  9. Originally Posted by KarMa View Post
    Just be sure to buy a TV that actually comes with a ATSC tuner. Some of these screens don't come with a tuner and are usually called Displays on the box, but they are sold in the TV section. The FCC requires any product being sold with the name TV/Television to come with a ATSC tuner, so look for that. If it does not have a coax jack on the back then there is no tuner.
    I'll watch for that. But the only ones like that I've ever seen that don't have a tuner and are sold as displays are for computer monitors, which are usually only up to about 22". Would a 40" or so TV like I'd get possibly not have a tuner?

    Originally Posted by teodz1984 View Post
    Don't see any reason to use a digital box if you have a digital TV unless your TV is the old analog input type...
    That's what I have. It's a 27" analog TV that still works perfectly. It's just the converter box giving me trouble. I'm happy with it otherwise, but if my box is about to die, and new ones don't help (the one I just bought certainly didn't), then it seems I'll have no choice but to dive into a new TV. Right now, my old box seems to be working a little better now. The new one I bought will be going back to Walmart in a few days.
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  10. Dinosaur Supervisor KarMa's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Aldbaran View Post
    I'll watch for that. But the only ones like that I've ever seen that don't have a tuner and are sold as displays are for computer monitors, which are usually only up to about 22". Would a 40" or so TV like I'd get possibly not have a tuner?
    Cord cutting has become a pretty big thing with some homes only watching Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Or their home has digital cable/digital satellite with an external decoder box, which output the signal over HDMI. Negating the need for coax and tuner. So TV manufactures figure they can save $20 (I'm making that $ amount up) on the tuner and royalties tied with the tuner. So they can either sell more TVs that are slightly cheaper or for more profit per TV, all the while not calling them TVs.
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    I know Vizio has eliminated tuners on many models in its product line. I don't know which other makers have "TVs" which need to be carefully inspected.
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  12. Originally Posted by KarMa View Post
    Originally Posted by Aldbaran View Post
    I'll watch for that. But the only ones like that I've ever seen that don't have a tuner and are sold as displays are for computer monitors, which are usually only up to about 22". Would a 40" or so TV like I'd get possibly not have a tuner?
    Cord cutting has become a pretty big thing with some homes only watching Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Or their home has digital cable/digital satellite with an external decoder box, which output the signal over HDMI. Negating the need for coax and tuner. So TV manufactures figure they can save $20 (I'm making that $ amount up) on the tuner and royalties tied with the tuner. So they can either sell more TVs that are slightly cheaper or for more profit per TV, all the while not calling them TVs.

    Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    I know Vizio has eliminated tuners on many models in its product line. I don't know which other makers have "TVs" which need to be carefully inspected.
    Hmmmm. Well, you guys have taught me something new today! I guess I'll have to keep a close eye on which TV I buy and whether it has a tuner or not. I thought there was a mandate passed early on that they all had to have tuners because many of the early ones didn't.
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    Originally Posted by Aldbaran View Post
    Hmmmm. Well, you guys have taught me something new today! I guess I'll have to keep a close eye on which TV I buy and whether it has a tuner or not. I thought there was a mandate passed early on that they all had to have tuners because many of the early ones didn't.
    That is true. With no ATSC tuner, they can't legally be sold as TVs. They must be sold as "displays" or "monitors" instead, which is what Vizio does. However, the tuner-free displays/monitors are located in the same department as TVs with an ATSC tuner.

    Many if not all of these displays/monitors are UHD/4K models. With no UHD/4K over-the-air broadcasts in the USA yet, except from a few stations experimenting with ATSC 3.0 broadcasts, 4K content has to be obtained elsewhere, so the manufacturer sees digital tuners as optional.
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 16th Oct 2017 at 17:08. Reason: added "monitor" because it is sometimes used to designate a tunerless model
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  14. Member turk690's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Aldbaran View Post
    I'd just hate to spend hundreds of dollars on a new TV only to end up with the same problems that I had with the new box. If that's likely to be the case, I'll just stick with what I have now. But I thought I'd ask here of people who have had old analog TVs with a converter box and then made the upgrade to a digital TV and use it with an antenna.
    I don't have an analogue TV but I have used a succession of these OTA ATSC tuner boxes for a video projector (which, superseding some Vizio TVs, NEVER have or had tuners). Separately, I also have a number of old and new TVs with the built-in ATSC tuners.
    My observation: in general, the boxes are LESS sensitive to OTA signals than the TV built-in tuners (the image breaks up or gets muted on even green parts of a TV fool chart, where same signal is OK with the TV built-in tuner).
    They are also prone to overheating (I have replaced a Mediasonic HW-150PVR box twice; they last for a little more than a year; in comparison, the built-in TV tuners do not die). Though there are a multitude of brands/models, they apparently use the same chipset because except for minute variations, the oncreen interface is the same across all of them. Apart from pairing them with TVs (and projectors, analogue and otherwise), for me the other benefit is being able to record the ATSC stream to an external USB drive.
    This, and the fact that they're typically less than $50 apiece eases a bit the shoddy manufacturing that we have to put up with.
    So, if you get any of the latest TVs that (mercifully) still has a built-in ATSC tuner, chances are that tuner has better sensitivity and quality than any of these boxes. But you won't be able to record the ATSC signal (tough if you want that).
    I'm aware that there ARE OTA ATSC tuner boxes that are supposedly more sturdily built, have better input signal sensitivity, and have fancier features (like having 2 tuners onboard so you can timeshift away), but they will cost upwards of $150 and more, which is a significant chunk of the price of a current 55" LCD TV with a tuner in it, negating the price reason why we want one in the first place.
    For the nth time, with the possible exception of certain Intel processors, I don't have/ever owned anything whose name starts with "i".
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  15. Member godai's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KarMa View Post
    Originally Posted by redwudz View Post
    Digital TVs don't have problems with 'picture breakup' with a digital TV signal. They either get a perfect picture or no picture.

    @OP
    In my experience, HDTVs tend to have better ATSC tuners than the converter boxes. And larger HDTVs have better ATSC tuners than smaller sub-20 inch HDTVs. This is just a generalization from my experiences with getting TV signals from 100 miles away.
    +2 true my sony bravia beats other tuners that i have , one external and couple pc tuners. it get more channels.
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  16. Originally Posted by turk690 View Post
    Originally Posted by Aldbaran View Post
    I'd just hate to spend hundreds of dollars on a new TV only to end up with the same problems that I had with the new box. If that's likely to be the case, I'll just stick with what I have now. But I thought I'd ask here of people who have had old analog TVs with a converter box and then made the upgrade to a digital TV and use it with an antenna.
    I don't have an analogue TV but I have used a succession of these OTA ATSC tuner boxes for a video projector (which, superseding some Vizio TVs, NEVER have or had tuners). Separately, I also have a number of old and new TVs with the built-in ATSC tuners.
    My observation: in general, the boxes are LESS sensitive to OTA signals than the TV built-in tuners (the image breaks up or gets muted on even green parts of a TV fool chart, where same signal is OK with the TV built-in tuner).
    They are also prone to overheating (I have replaced a Mediasonic HW-150PVR box twice; they last for a little more than a year; in comparison, the built-in TV tuners do not die). Though there are a multitude of brands/models, they apparently use the same chipset because except for minute variations, the oncreen interface is the same across all of them. Apart from pairing them with TVs (and projectors, analogue and otherwise), for me the other benefit is being able to record the ATSC stream to an external USB drive.
    This, and the fact that they're typically less than $50 apiece eases a bit the shoddy manufacturing that we have to put up with.
    So, if you get any of the latest TVs that (mercifully) still has a built-in ATSC tuner, chances are that tuner has better sensitivity and quality than any of these boxes. But you won't be able to record the ATSC signal (tough if you want that).
    I'm aware that there ARE OTA ATSC tuner boxes that are supposedly more sturdily built, have better input signal sensitivity, and have fancier features (like having 2 tuners onboard so you can timeshift away), but they will cost upwards of $150 and more, which is a significant chunk of the price of a current 55" LCD TV with a tuner in it, negating the price reason why we want one in the first place.
    The new converter box I had gotten from Walmart had a USB port for recording TV (and also playing video and music and photos over the TV), but the salesman at Walmart who I asked about it when I was making the purchase said that it doesn't always work right.
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    Originally Posted by Aldbaran View Post
    The new converter box I had gotten from Walmart had a USB port for recording TV (and also playing video and music and photos over the TV), but the salesman at Walmart who I asked about it when I was making the purchase said that it doesn't always work right.
    The salesman isn't wrong. I have read user reviews indicating that USB flash drives don't always work properly for recording the converter boxes' output. Some are just not fast enough. Portable USB hard drives tend to work better.
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  18. Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    Originally Posted by Aldbaran View Post
    The new converter box I had gotten from Walmart had a USB port for recording TV (and also playing video and music and photos over the TV), but the salesman at Walmart who I asked about it when I was making the purchase said that it doesn't always work right.
    The salesman isn't wrong. I have read user reviews indicating that USB flash drives don't always work properly for recording the converter boxes' output. Some are just not fast enough. Portable USB hard drives tend to work better.
    Well, I just have flash drives, so I guess I won't feel as bad about taking the unit back. I had thought maybe the recording ability would be one of the things that would be worthwhile about replacing my old converter box, in addition to correcting some of the problems my old one was having (and isn't having so much anymore).
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  19. Dinosaur Supervisor KarMa's Avatar
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    Worst case scenario for OTA ATSC TV bitrate, is around 16Mbits per second. So that then requires as USB stick speed of just under 2 MBytes per second. A write speed of 2MB is not that fast with even older sticks. I don't know that I have a working stick below 3-4MB write speed, and I don't buy expensive. If the channel in question has other sub channels (10.1,10.2,10.3 for example) then that ~16Mbits will be spread out among all those channels on the same frequency.

    Originally Posted by godai View Post
    +2 true my sony bravia beats other tuners that i have , one external and couple pc tuners. it get more channels.
    Yeah my Bravia is probably my best tuner too. It tends to be the last thing to lose signal on any station and is good at picking up a particular station when the antenna is pointed 90 degrees away from that transmitter, which the other tuners have trouble with.
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