Product Review (April 2009) - Channel Master
CM-7000 D2A Digital Set-Top Box

By Kevin Nakano


Channel Master CM-7000 Set Top BoxThe demise of the 50+ year old analog television broadcast standard called NTSC has become a reality as TV stations convert to new digital equipment. The move towards this transition has been going on for years and television manufacturers have been forced to include digital ATSC tuners in the larger consumer displays for some time now. Digital broadcasts have already taken the spectrum where analog channels once existed and unless you have a digital ATSC tuner for your older set, you will miss out on this fantastic new technology. Compared to their analog sister channels, digital broadcasts look clearer with lower noise levels. In addition, several standard definition (SDTV) channels can be squeezed into and take the place of a single high definition channel.

Numerous manufacturers have introduced low-cost converter boxes for this specific application. Channel Master (a division of PCT International, Inc.) has released their new CM-7000 converter box that is designed to convert all digital broadcasts so that they can be viewed on older NTSC televisions. What is nice about this unit is that it includes an S-video output for improved video quality, which is not offered on many of the other set-top boxes we have seen. In fact, the picture quality of the CM-7000 is significantly better for those who have televisions with S-video inputs. The unit is easy to install and configure. The front panel has a button for power and channel controls (up and down). There is also an IR window for use with the included remote control.

Channel Master CM-7000 Back PanelInterfaces
The CM-7000 converter box is designed to accept an RF antenna signal containing ATSC modulated digital information. Once decoded, the modulated RF output uses channel 3 or 4 to display the picture. A composite video, s-video and a pair of audio outputs are provided for compatible televisions. The real benefit is when the s-video output is used. This will provide users with superior picture quality over the composite output or RF modulated output. Video will be limited to 480i, yet we found the quality to be very good.
For those interested, the design uses a Thomson digital tuner and Thomson ASIC chipset (STi7707 & STV0373) for decoding and processing the signal.

Remote
The CM-7000 includes a full featured remote control. The layout is great and the buttons are large enough and well spaced to make it easy to operate. The remote is thin and not quite as heavy as some of the other remotes we have used, but is still well designed. A full set of numeric keys are provided along with navigation, volume and channel controls. Other dedicated buttons include Mute, Option, Info, Page Up/Down, Favorites, Exit, Back, Wide, Subtitle, and Text. Pressing the Guide button invokes the Electronic Programming Guide (EPG). Pressing the Info button displays channel information. A full set of numeric buttons and volume and channel up/down controls are provided. The MENU button is used to configure the converter box. Several layers of controls are available for the user to set up the box.

Channel Master CM-7000 GUIMenu
There are five sections in the menu GUI that include Channel Edit, Channel Scan, Setup, Closed Caption, and Parental Control. The Channel Edit section allows the user to add, delete, or lock any channel. In addition a set of Favorite channels can be grouped. Channel Scan is used to automatically scan for terrrestrial channels that are being broadcast and save them in the unit. The Setup menu allows the user to set the time and date (manual or auto) along with the language (English, Spanish, or French) used for the On-Screen Display (OSD). The Closed Caption (CC) menu lets the user select the type of CC as well as font size and style along with edge effects, foreground and background color/transparency. The Parental Control menu is designed to block program material that exceeds the set rating limit. TV and MPAA ratings are both supported.

Channel Master CM-7000 Info BannerInformation Banner
The Information banner provides channel information (major and minor), station name and the current time. The banner also displays program name, program description and duration, video resolution, audio language, rating, cc information and signal strength. All this information is invoked with a single button on the remote.

Performance
The CM-7000 is easy to setup and configure. We connected our large Terk TV-38 rooftop antenna to the unit and the reception was excellent. Signal strength was almost always near 100% for all channels we watched. During the setup we pulled in over 60 digital channels for our local broadcasters. What surprised us most was the picture quality we saw over the s-video connection. This unit blew away all of the other non-HD set-top boxes we have reviewed thus far. The digital channels looked so much better than their NTSC (analog) counterparts.

Conclusion
The CM-7000 is a great performer and is one of the few set-top boxes to offer an s-video output. This interface gives the CM-7000 an edge over other DTV boxes we have seen. If you happen to have a television that supports s-video, you should be looking at this unit to maximize your picture quality. The remote and user interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. Short of going full HDTV, this is the box to get.

- Kevin Nakano





OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review System

Display: Mitsubishi LT-52148 Full 1080p 120Hz High-Definition LCD Display
Preamplifier/Processor: Parasound AVC-2500U THX-Ultra DTS/DD Preamp/Processor
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Bass Management: Miller & Kreisel BMC Mini 5.1 Bass Management Controller
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Blu-ray Player: Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray Player with HDMI
HD-DVD Player: Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD Player with HDMI
DVD/CD/SACD Player: Sony DVP-NS900V DVD/CD/SACD Player
DVD Audio/Video Player: Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M 400-Disc DVD Changer
DVD Player: OPPO Digital OPDV971H DVD Player with DVI Output
Media Server: Kenwood Sovereign MRH1 Entre
Remote Control: Remote Technologies Inc. T4 Controller


Review - At a Glance


Channel Master - CM-7000 Digital to Analog Converter Box


Features

  • Converts all HD (high definition) video formats into SD (standard definition) format
  • Easy installation and operation
  • Channel Scan and Channel Scan update programming
  • Electronic Program Guide (EPG) support
  • On Screen Display (OSD)
  • Closed Caption (CC)
  • Full function remote control
  • Low power consumption
  • Auto-Sleep function
  • S-Video Output
  • Approved for NTIA converter box $40 coupon program

Specifications

Tuner
Frequency Range: 54 to 864 MHz
Input Impedance: 75 Ohm
Input Connector: F-Type, Female
Channel Bandwith: 6 MHz
Input Dynamic Range: -83 to -5 dBM / SNR - 15 dB

Demodulator
Type: 8VSB / ATSC A/53 compliant
Performance: ATSC A/74 compliant
Input Video Formats: 1080i, 720p, 480i, 480


Video
Output Format: 480i
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 / 16:9 with letter box pan and scan

Video Connectors
Composite Video: RCA
Component Video: S-Video

Audio Connectors
Left / Right: RCA, Stereo

RF Modulator
Output: RF Connector F-Type, Female
Channel: 3 / 4, Selectable, Mono Audio

Power
Supply: 120 VAC / 60 Hz
ON Consumption: 8 W
STANDBY Consumption: 2 W
Auto-Sleep Mode: 4 hours after last remote control entry

General
Dimensions (W x L x H): 22 x 16 x 4 cm / 8.7 x 6.3 x 1.6 in
Weight: 0.9 kg / 2.0 lbs

Environment
Operating Temperature: 0 to 60° C / 32 to 140° F
Relative Humidity: 10 to 90% noncondensing

CM-7000 Manual
CM-7000 Datasheet
CM-7000 Troubleshooting Guide
CM-7000 Quick Setup Guide


Company Information
Channel Master
a division of PCT International, Inc.
2151 East Broadway Road, Suite 211
Tempe, AZ 85282-1894

Customer Service
Phone: 800-306-8948, 480-813-0925
Fax: 480-545-1080
Email: pctcustomerservice@pctintl.com
Website: www.channelmasterintl.com

Technical Support
Phone: 919-934-5860
Fax: 919-934-2809
Email: rmorgan@pctintl.com

URL: CM-7000 Home Page


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