With the change over to digital television coming ever closer in the US, it is important to be aware of some of the options out there for digital converter boxes. Today we will have a look at an offering from Winegard.
For your viewing pleasure, we start off with a video of the unboxing of the converter box.
Here are some of the key features to compare among analog to digital converter boxes:
Analog Passthrough: YES
Smart Antenna interface: NO
Coax out: YES
RCA out: YES
Svideo out: NO
S/PDIF out: NO
Electronic Programming Guilde (EPG): YES
Remote Control included: YES
RCA cable included: NO
Setup and Menus
Setup is pretty simple. The feed that originally would be connected to your antenna should now be connected to the antenna input on the converter box, and you can use the supplied coax cable to connect the converter box to the antenna input of the television. Optionally, you can use an RCA cable to connect the converter box to the television. This may give you a slightly clearer picture but the necessary cable is not included.
Editors note: I apologize in advance for the quality of the following screenshots. Taking photographs of a television is not simple.
This is the first screen that you will see after you power up the converter box. In order to get things going, you are required to press the MENU button on the remote.
This is the main menu screen that appears when you press the MENU button on the remote. Across the top are three main menus – Channel, Option and Lock. The left side of the screen provides the sub-menus and the right side provides the options available within those sub-menus.
This screen displays the selections available within the Option menu. This is where you can configure things like your clock, aspect ratio and language.
This screen appears when the Lock menu is selected. This is where you can block content based on ratings or channels.
Within the Channel menu, the Channel Scan menu allows the converter box to automatically scan for channels available to you.
If the automatic scan did not pick up all of the channels that are available in your area, they can be added by selecting Channel Add.
The Channel Edit option allows you to modify the channels that were detected during the scan.
The Manual Scan feature allows you to scan through channels at your own pace, which can be useful if you need to adjust the antenna for a particular channel.
The Output Channel sub-menu is a very basic menu that allows you to select between Channel 3 and Channel 4 for the output to the television when using a coax connection.
Under the Options menu, the first option is the Clock menu. Here you can configure the look of the time as well as the time zone that you are in.
The Aspect Ration menu is used to select between the possible aspect ratio outputs. Auto will pass along whatever the original feed is using – i.e. if they’re outputting in letterbox, then the box will also output letterbox. The Letter Box selection will always output in letterbox format, adding bars to the top and bottom of the image. Cropped will take a letterbox signal, remove the bars from the top and bottom, and cut a little bit of the image from the right and left sides, allowing the image to take of the entire 4:3 real estate of the TV. Squeezed is similar to Cropped, except that instead of cropping the sides of the image, the image is squeezed into a 4:3 picture, making people look tall and skinny.
The Language menu allows you to choose between English, Spanish and French for the menus and On Screen Display information.
The Audio Language menu allows you to choose which audio stream to output to the television when multiple streams are available in the broadcast signal.
The Caption Select menu allows you to select which, if any, closed captioning should be displayed.
The Power Save Mode menu allows you to choose to have the unit turn itself off after a certain period of time, allowing you to fall asleep while watching TV.
The Analog Audio menu allows you to select either Mono or Stereo audio output, in case your TV has only one speaker.
When you access the Lock menu, it will prompt you for your password. The default password is listed in the users manual, so make sure you have it handy when first configuring the box. You will need to enter your password each time the lock menu is selected.
Once you have entered your password, the Lock System menu gives you the ability to turn the locking feature on or off. If the system lock is turned off, no shows will be blocked based on choices entered below.
The Set Password menu allows you to change the locking password from what it is currently set to. The password is four digits long and each digit is a number from 0 to 9.
The Block Channel menu allows you to block entire channels from being displayed.
The TV Rating-Children menu allows you to filter what types of shows are available to children, based on either age or genre.
The TV Rating-General menu allows you to filter what types of shows are available to the general viewing audience, based on normal standards such as age, language or violence.
You can also filter movies based on the movie rating.
If available to you, you can also load Rating Region Tables.
Configuration and Usage
Now that you know what is available in the various menus, it is time to continue with the setup of the unit.
Selecting Channel Scan from the Channel menu causes the unit to automatically scan through the available channels. Channel scanning is completed very quickly, in a matter of minutes.
Not only can the Manual Scan menu be used to add channels to your available list, it also has a bar that displays the signal strength for that channel.
Once the configuration is complete, pressing the Info button on the remote puts this information on the On Screen Display.
Pressing the Signal button on the remote brings up this bar, indicating the strength of the currently tuned station. Not obvious from the picture, this unit also mutes the audio at this point and instead outputs a pinging tone that helps with antenna adjustment if you can’t see the signal bar directly.
With the approach of the new analog to digital changeover, it is time to make sure that you have all of the components in place to continue receiving Over-The-Air broadcasts on that analog TV that you’ve had around for a bit now. Once the conversion happens, that means that you’ll have to have a converter box connected between your antenna and your TV. The Winegard RCDT09A is one such converter box and it does the job well.
The Winegard RCDT09A does a very good job of tuning signals. There is no noise produced by the unit from fans, and yet the box stays nice and cool at all times. With a small enclosure it is very easy to tuck away into any nook or cranny, and if the box is left out it is not out of place due to its nice aesthetics. With extra little features such as signal strength beeps when the signal button is pressed on the remote, and analog passthrough for the time leading up to the changeover, this box is easy to recommend to all of our readers.
Remote does not control the TV
In the end, this is a unit that you can’t go wrong with. This unit is quick to setup, and it’s easily possible to be up and running in a matter of minutes after taking it out of the box. This unit gets my vote. It’s worth taking a closer look at when making your decisions.
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