Insignia NS-DXA1-APT / Zenith DTT901
The Insignia NA-DXA1 was Best Buy's store brand digital tuner for over a year. It is now being phased out and replaced with a box from Apex Digital but can still be found at stores that still have some remaining stock or on the Internet as the Zenith DTT901. It is slightly larger than the RCA branded tuner and has a few extra options and buttons but provides a good level of usability for the average user. Other than the tuner, the remote, battery, A/V cable, and coax cable are included.
Appearance – 3/5
This tuner is medium in size compared to the other boxes in the review. It is all black with 3 small buttons on the front for channel up, down, and power. The power light is very wide across the front; it's red when off and a nice audiophile blue when on, which seemed a bit too bright in a dimly lit room. The blue light can't make up for the very simple and plain appearance, however.
Ports – 3/5
From left to right, the rear of the box has coax antenna in, coax TV out, composite/stereo A/V jacks and a hard wired power cable. It had the fewest connections and controls of all the tuners in the review.
Remote – 4/5
The remote control is a little small to hold and only uses one AAA battery so it seems very light and flimsy. However, there are a good amount of buttons on it to control everything that is needed. The volume controls work internally to adjust the signal level so the TV volume needed to be set to the loudest that would be required. Also, the TV Power button was easy to program to allow the screen to be powered on and off. Zoom is used to set the aspect ratio of the image with settings for: Set by Program, Letter Box, Cropped and Squeezed. The Set by Program worked for nearly all content but occasionally the Cropped mode was needed. There were separate buttons for Closed Caption, Second Audio Program, Signal Strength, Display, Guide, Favorite Channel, Recall / Last Channel, Sleep, and Mute.
Initial Setup – 4/5
The initial setup steps through Language, TV aspect ratio, Channel Scan, then Time Zone. The setup process took just about one minute. It wasn't perfectly straightforward as I had to read the on screen directions to actually make the channel scan work. There was one thing that needed to change after the initial setup, and that was the audio output. By default, it was set to Mono so it should be changed to Stereo in most cases.
Menu System – 4/5
The menu has three main options, Setup, Option, and Lock. The Setup menu was mainly for programming the channels and output options. Since the back of the box doesn't have a physical switch for CH3 or 4 for the RF output, it is included here. It would be a small gotcha for the very few users using channel 4 for RF tuning and having the box default to CH3. Not only is the auto channel setup present, but master channels can be manually added if your signal strength is low or choppy and a channel isn't detected by the auto programming. The Option menu has settings for the Time Zone, Aspect Ratio, Language, CC, Auto Off, and Audio Output. Most of these can be controlled with the specific button on the remote control. Finally, the Lock menu controls functions to allow or disallow programming based on rating or content, block specific channels, and even allows for the Canadian rating system. A password can be set to protect these settings.
Channel Information – 4/5
The display button on the remote control brings up the channel information. A static non-transparent display shows the program title, current time, channel designation and call sign, the time of the program, CC availability, lock status, program rating, and extended description. The info screen takes up a good portion of the picture and distracts from the current program, but is easy to read with a lot of information. The main menu has a transparent background, so it was a bit perplexing that this info screen did not.
Program Guide – 4/5
The program guide also takes a lot of screen space, but seemed easy to use and fairly complete. The current time is displayed as well as the current program title and time range as well as the next program. Five channel numbers are shown at the top and can be easily scrolled through to find what's on next or on other channels and hitting the enter button tunes to the new channel. Once again, it would have been nice to have the background be translucent, but it wasn't.
Signal Strength – 4/5
The signal strength meter didn't show a specific percentage, but seemed to be about 80% on most channels while using the cheap antenna. When the amplified antenna was used, only about a 5% increase could be seen, and in some cases, when the amplifier was turned up high, a lower signal was actually seen due to over amplifying the signal. It was preferable to not have amplification for my particular location, but your signal may still require it.
Picture Quality – 4/5
The picture quality seemed very stable with few artifacts or fringing while using the CRT. On the Dell monitor, I could see a hint of fringes but the overall image quality was better than the RCA tuner.
Sound Quality – 5/5
I didn't think I'd hear much of a difference in sound, but this tuner also seemed to have slightly more clear audio in the vocal range than with the RCA tuner.
With a simple look, a nice bright blue light, a fully functional remote and basic connections, this tuner did its job quite well. Even though it is being phased out, it's still a very good performer with excellent non-amplified reception and a decent menu system. Perhaps it will soon be available at lower prices on the Internet, and as such would be a smart choice.
Overall – 4/5
- Television system: DTV standard ATSC
- Channel coverage: Terrestrial 2-69
- Dimensions (W × H × D): Approximately 8.5 × 1.8 × 6.4 inches (215 × 46 × 162 mm)
- Net weight: Approximately 1.65 lbs. (0.75 kg)
- Operating temperature: 41°F to 104°F (5°C to 40°C)
- Operating humidity: 5% to 90%
- Power requirement: 120V 60 Hz AC
- Power consumption: 7 W
- Antenna in: ATSC, 75 ohms
- Antenna out: 75 ohms, RF output / channel 3 or 4 (switchable)
- Video output: 1.0 V (p-p), 75 ohms, negative sync, RCA jack (1)
- Audio output: 2.0 Vrms (1 KHz, 0 dB), 600 ohms, RCA jack (L, R) (1)
I have to say, I agree with the review of this unit on all points. It is a fantastic converter!
I know of at least one of mine that has a power supply that makes noise in standby mode.
Not to mention with rabbit ears, keep the AC power cord away from the leads as much as possible. It causes quite a bit of interference; enough to block stations from coming in.
I might just have to get one of those Channel Master units. I have the Zenith DTT901 and have been really happy, except that I wish that it had S-video and that the program guide showed more into the future. I do like how the Zenith lets you check what's on other channels without changing the channel, though.
I really (REALLY) wish that these lower-priced boxes had digital audio output. That's one of the reason that I put off getting one until a couple of months ago.