Review (February 2008) - Winegard
By Kevin Nakano
This month, the government mandated transition from analog to digital television became a reality as stations turned off their NTSC broadcasts. This transition will force many television owners who lack digital tuners to install a converter box in order to keep watching free over-the-air programming they have been enjoying for decades. The new digital broadcasts have big advantages in picture and sound quality and offer additional data not previously available on the earlier analog broadcast system. Many companies have introduced digital set-top boxes that convert the ATSC digital broadcasts to the conventional NTSC video format, so that older televisions can view the new broadcasts. The U.S. Department of Commerce at the www.dtv2009.gov is still providing up to 2 coupons (until July 31, 2009) worth $40 each towards the purchase of these converter boxes.
Winegard, a well known company in the terrestrial and satellite antenna business, has introduced the RC-DT09A converter box designed to receive ATSC (digital) broadcasts and convert the content to conventional NTSC in the form of RF (channel 3 or 4) or composite video with two channel analog audio. The box is compact measuring only 5.5" x 1.75" x 7" and weighing less than one pound. The RC-DT09A includes an IR remote, power adapter and a user's manual.
Pressing the Menu button places the user at the top level menu system on the RC-DT09A. There are three categories that include Channel, Option, and Lock. Users will need to configure their unit prior to using it to maximize performance and features.
The Channel menu is used to automatically scan and find the available channels being broadcasted in your area. Users can also manually add and delete channels in the lineup. We found 62 active digital channels here in the Los Angeles area during setup. The Manual Scan allows the user to manually enter a channel and adjust the antenna to optimize the signal quality. There are some cases where the signal may be too weak for the automatic scan to properly detect a channel being broadcasted. The manual scan allows the weaker signals to be added into the lineup. The Output Channel selects the RF output (Channel 3 or 4) when this is connected to the television. We only used the composite output.
The Option menu controls the Clock, Aspect Ratio, Language, Audio Language, Closed Caption, Power Savings, and Analog Audio. The user can select the time zone to properly adjust the time. The Aspect Ratio (Auto, Letterbox, Cropped or Squeezed) menu controls the way the picture looks on the screen based on standard 4:3 displays or the newer 16:9 displays. The Language and Audio Language setting can be set to English, Spanish and French. The DCC View (Digital Closed Caption) menu is used to set or change the look of the DCC. Fonts, colors and styles can be adjusted based on personal preference. The Power Save Mode (Off, 1, 2, 4, or 8 hours) shutdown the converter box automatically if no activity is detected for the specified time. The Analog Audio setting selects mono or stereo audio.
The Lock menu is used to lock specific channels or content based on TV and Movie (MPAA) ratings. Users must enter a four number password to gain access to the settings. The TV-Rating Children menu selects Age or Fantasy Violence. The TV Rating-General selects Age, Dialogue, Language, Sex, and Violence. The lock levels are equivalent to TV-Y, TV-Y7, TV-G, TV-PG, TV-14, and TV-MA. The Movie Rating can be set to the standard MPAA rates (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17, and X). Finally, there is a RRT (Rating Region Table) that can be reset or loaded from the broadcaster.
Pressing the Info button displays the current channel information. This includes the program name, program time, current time and date, alternate audio, aspect ratio, ratings and a description of the current program. A separate box in the right corner displays the channel number in larger text along with the sub-channel and station broadcast name.
- Kevin Nakano
Mitsubishi LT-52148 Full 1080p 120Hz High-Definition LCD Display
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