Product Review (February 2008) - Winegard
RC-DT09A ATSC Digital to Analog Converter Box

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.

Interfaces
The converter box is designed to accept an RF antenna signal containing ATSC modulated digital information. The modulated RF output uses channel 3 or 4 to display the picture. Composite video and a pair of audio outputs are provided for compatible televisions. The power input comes from the switching AC adapter that produces 5VDC at 2 amps. For those interested, the RC-DT09A design uses a Thomson digital tuner and Thomson ASIC set (STi7707 & STV0373) for decoding. This simple unit offers no fancy outputs, but provides the essential interfaces for older television sets.

Remote
The remote included with the RC-DT09A is small, but has a full featured design that includes buttons for Volume up/down, Channel up/down, and a 0-9 numeric keypad. The buttons are large enough to give the user good control of the converter box. The top of the remote has Power and Mute buttons. Other buttons include Menu, Exit, Info, Signal, CC, and Last Channel. The volume and channel controls on the remote are strictly for the RC-DT09A and do not control the television in any way. We like the fact this remote uses a pair of standard "AAA" batteries.

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.

 

Winegard RC DT09A AccessoriesAccessories
The RC-DT09A can be used with optional power sources, extending the locations where the converter box can be used. The Winegard battery pack (RC-BP9V) uses six "D" size batteries and provides 9VDC to the unit, giving the user complete portability. This is particularly useful in situations where power is not available. In addition, Winegard offers a 12V car adapter (RC-12DC) that gives the user the ability to use the RC-DT09A in mobile applications. RV owners may find this of interest.

Conclusion
The RC-DT09A is a simple, yet fully capable converter box that helps TV viewers through the digital transition and still make use of older televisions. The unit is easy to configure and provides good picture quality for general use. It lacks the better video interfaces such as s-video and component video connection, but most users will not likely find this a limitation. The RC-DT09A has an simple and intuitive menu system for setup. This inexpensive converter box allows users to receive free digital broadcasts, so that older televisions can benefit from the new technology.

- Kevin Nakano






OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review System

Display: Mitsubishi LT-52148 Full 1080p 120Hz High-Definition LCD Display
Video Processor/Scaler: Anchor Bay Technologies DVDO iScan HD+ A/V Processor
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
Set-top Box: Dish Network ViP622 HDTV Satellite and Terrestrial Receiver with HDMI
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
D-VHS VCR: JVC HM-DH30000U D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
Media Server: Kenwood Sovereign MRH1 Entre
Remote Control: Remote Technologies Inc. T4 Controller
HDMI Video Switcher: Atlona AT-HDMI41 4:1 HDMI Video Switcher
HDMI Cable: Atlona 5-meter Flat HDMI 1080p Cable
HDMI Cable: VizionWare Hi-Wirez 20-meter Active 1080p Cable
HDMI Cable: Accell UltraRun 45-meter 1080p Cable
DVI Cable: AudioQuest DV-1 20m DVI-D Cable
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables


Review - At a Glance


Winegard - RC-DT09A Digital Converter Box

Features

Analog pass-through - Television components such as VCR and Satellite are not blocked by receiver.

Outputs - RCA-type audio/video and RF Coax

Remote - IR remote control

Dimensions - 5.5" x 1.75" x 7"

Weight - 0.7 lbs.

Winegard RC-DT09A Manual

Company Information
Winegard Co.
3000 Kirkwood St.
Burlington, IA 52601

Phone: 800-288-8094
Fax: 800-247-8221

URL: www.winegard.com


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