Need a good broadcast HDTV to Component/RGB/HDMI solution

  1. HDTV antennas are a dime a dozen, as are "HDTV converter boxes." The problem is, I've not been able to find a converter box with outputs other than composite or coax (75 ohm aka Ch 3/4).

    A couple of years ago, the airwaves were a-buzz with much ballyhoo about how people won't have to throw away their older TVs, that broadcast HDTV can be sent to older TVs with a simple antenna and an HDTV converter.

    So why the following:
    *coax (75 ohm Ch 3/4)
    *composite (RCA yellow)
    S-video (Sony's separate luminance and chrominance channels)
    YPbPr component (three RCA plugs carrying red, blue, and green signals)
    RGB (standard output used primarily for computer monitors)
    HDMI (current standard for home theater video/audio)
    DVI (post-RGB solution for analog/digital signals used in computer monitors)
    DisplayPort (royalty-free solution for DVI and HDMI compatibility)

    *only these two poor video standards appear to be supported by any broadcast HDTV converter I can find.

    Is this everyone else's experience, or is there a solution out there which includes one or more of the more high-def outputs? After all, if it's in the signal, why not keep up the fidelity all the way through to the monitor?
  2. jcsd
  3. jtbell

    Staff: Mentor

    There are a few of these devices, but not many. Relatively few people in the USA (only 10-15%) watch over-the-air TV broadcasts. Devices sold as "TVs" have had to include digital broadcast (ATSC) tuners for several years now. The main market for standalone HDTV tuners is people with front-projection monitors. If you can use a computer with your monitor, there are USB-stick HDTV tuners.

    Here's a list of current and discontinued standalone HDTV tuners, with links to discussions about them:

    The Official AVS HDTV STB Synopsis

    I myself use a couple of long-discontinued Sony DHG-HDD250 and -500 HD DVRs with an "HD ready" TV that I bought in 2005, before TVs were required to have ATSC tuners. If I had to buy a similar device now, I'd probably get a TiVo Premiere with "lifetime" subscription.


    But the vast majority of older TVs don't do HD. :wink:

    The converter boxes that you're thinking of were intended specifically for legacy analog TVs that can display only standard-definition images. Therefore most of them have only RF (channel 3/4) and composite-video outputs, like most VCRs did. A few do have an S-video output. In fact, boxes that were eligible for the US government's coupon program to help users defray the cost, were forbidden from having HD outputs (component video and HDMI). These boxes (often called CECBs = Coupon Eligible Converter Boxes) can receive HD (720p or 1080i) broadcast signals, but down-convert them to SD (480i).
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011
  4. rcgldr

    rcgldr 7,695
    Homework Helper

    The only solution I'm aware of is the Channel Master 7001 which has HDMI and HD component outputs. They also have a DVR, model 7000PAL (I don't think this means it's a PAL versus NTSC device). They also sell HD UHF antennas.
  5. I'm confused by part of your OP. If you have a high-def capable display, what exactly are you trying to "convert"? If you want to receive broadcast television, and you have a high-definition display, then you just need a HDTV tuner.
  6. jtbell

    Staff: Mentor

    The Channel Master 7001 is a clone of the Centronics unit and some others which are listed in the synopsis that I linked to. It's probably the most widely distributed of the bunch. Channel Master has a presence in retail stores, unlike the other clone-sellers which sell only online as far as I can tell.

    The 7000PAL definitely doesn't have anything to do with the PAL broadcast standard which is used outside the USA. It's a re-badging of a DVR that was originally developed and sold by the Dish satellite-TV company, under the name "Dish DTVPal DVR". I suspect the "Pal" was supposed to connote user-friendliness.

    Channel Master sells UHF/VHF combination antennas, as well as UHF-only. As far as the antenna is concerned, it doesn't matter whether the signal is encoded in analog versus digltal format, or standard-definition versus high-definition, but that hasn't stopped antenna manufacturers from marketing their old designs as "HD antennas." :rolleyes:
  7. rcgldr

    rcgldr 7,695
    Homework Helper

    Are any television signals broadcast in the VHF range in the USA anymore? The VHF part could be used for receiving marginal FM radio broadcasts. Channel Master seems to specify various ranges and gain for their UHF antennas, 30 miles, 8.5db for the 4220, 45 miles, 11.5 db for the 4221, 60 miles, 12 db for the 4228 (which also receives VHF 7-13?) .
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011
  8. jtbell

    Staff: Mentor

    There sure are! From one city, I get CBS on channel 7, PBS on 9, and ABC on 13. From another city, I get ABC on 8 and NBC on 10. Both of those cities of course have the other broadcast networks on UHF. These are the real (physical) channel numbers as opposed to the virtual channel numbers that you see on tuners (in my case they're respectively 7.1, 29.1, 13.1, 25.1 and 10.1 plus the subchannels on xx.2 etc.).

    During the transition period when stations had to run both analog and digital transmitters (on different channels of course), most digital channels were in the UHF band because most of the available VHF channels were already being used for analog. When analog TV went (mostly) off the air two years ago, most stations that had been using channels 7-13 ("high VHF") for analog, moved their digital signals to those channels because VHF doesn't need as much power as UHF to cover the same territory. Channels 2-6 ("low VHF") were a different matter, because it was well-known that those channels are very susceptible to electrical interference that ruins digital TV signals. (This is the interference that produces white speckles or streaks in analog signals.) Few stations willingly put their digital signals on low-VHF channels. They usually did it only when they had no other choice.

    So a lot of people (including me) only need to receive UHF and high-VHF, which is nice because high-VHF-only antennas are smaller than full-range VHF. Here's my setup with separate antennas for UHF (top) and high-VHF (bottom):


    These antennas are each about 100 inches (2.5 m) long.

    Most of my stations are 50-70 miles (80-110 km) away, and they usually come in strongly. The VHF channels do tend to break up frequently when there's a thunderstorm nearby, because of the electrical interference.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011
  9. You can convert anything to anything if you want to spend the money on the equipment. Pointless if you don't have a display device that has native HD resolution. Either 1080p (1920x1080) or 720p (1280x720). Also pointless to convert a lower quality signal like S-video to a high quality signal like RGBHV (the best) unless you need to match an input. Check out Extron, they make just about anything you could possible want for professional AV. They will also be able to answer any question if you call them. The equipment to do what you want will probably cost more than a new HD ready display however.
  10. Accept the fact the display accepts component and HDMI input. I'm trying to find a device (tuner) which receives broadcast DTV signals and spits it out via component or HDMI.

    To date, I've found no such animal. The only DTV tuners I've found spit it out in coax i.e. Channel 3/4, or composite, both way yucky.
  11. jtbell

    Staff: Mentor

    Did you try the list in the link in post #2? However, if you insist on finding them in bricks-n-mortar stores, you're probably out of luck. You have to order them from online dealers. I think the biggest exception is the TiVo Premiere DVR which you can get at Best Buy and maybe other places. It's either $99 purchase cost plus $20 per month for the program guide, or something like $500-600 for a "lifetime" subscription to the program guide. I'm not sure whether it's usable at all (e.g. as a tuner only) without the program guide.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  12. I Googled "hdtv tuner" and found a few with HDMI out. For example:
    (Note: I do not specifically endorse any of these products or sellers)
  13. jtbell

    Staff: Mentor

    I hadn't seen the MyGica before. It looks like it's intended specifically for computer monitors. The only outputs are DVI, S-video(?) and a headphone-type audio output jack. The same brand has other devices that look very similar but lack an antenna input, for connecting video game consoles to computer monitors.
  14. Thanks for your replies, folks. After poking around in the minds of a few marketers in the companies that made these for a short while, I learned these devices were contrary to their goals of selling new TVs with the tuners built into them. Thus, they (LG, Samsung, Sony, and others) stopped making them.

    In the meantime, I did find a computer solution through Hauppage, which still makes a number of good USB tuners for less than $100. One of their best units is around $80 and will do everything with the broadcast DTV signals a high-end Tivo will do (recording, scheduled recording, etc.).
  15. Since you're going with a PC based solution, you might like MythTV:
    "Open source software for Linux that turns your computer into PVR (Personal Video Recorder) [...] Basically, it's a smart digital VCR, similar in many ways to Tivo."​
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