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Old 5-Apr-2010, 4:39 PM   #1
rci2985dx
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Digital ready tv question

Hi, I had an analog tv when the digital switch happened so I got one of the boxes radio shack sold for about 40 bucks. I now got a 42 inch tashiba hd tv with built in digital tuner. I was just wondering if the built in tuners in the new tvs are as good or better than the boxes one can buy.

Thanks,
Roger
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Old 5-Apr-2010, 6:03 PM   #2
mtownsend
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The built-in tuners of TVs are certainly more convenient since there's no need to switch back and forth between different inputs.

Furthermore, if your TV is able to display 720 or 1080 native resolution, then you'll get a better picture when the stations are broadcasting HD content. The external converter box (the $40 variety) can only put out S-Video, composite video, or RF channel 3/4. None of these formats can handle anything above 480 resolution, so any HD content will be converted to a 480 resolution before being sent to your TV.

However, to answer your question, I've found that external converter boxes usually do a little better on specs such as Noise Figure. That means if you've got some marginal channels, the set-top box might do a better job picking it up than the TV's tuner. If all of your channels are strong, then you won't notice any difference in terms of number of channels received.
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Old 6-Apr-2010, 3:28 PM   #3
rci2985dx
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Thanks, I would have thought the tv's tuner was better because of the price of the tv but I was wrong.

Roger
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Old 7-Apr-2010, 5:50 AM   #4
mtownsend
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The tuner in the TV is "better" in the sense that it actually needs to decode and generate images for 720 and/or 1080 resolution images (depending on the display's capabilities), whereas the set-top converter boxes don't actually need to generate anything higher than 480 resolution images. Most built-in TV tuners are also capable of decoding QAM, NTSC, and ATSC all in the same package. The set-top converters only do ATSC.

Overall, I'd say the cost of the tuner is tiny compared to the cost of the display panel and the numerous other features that a TV needs that a set-top box does not (e.g., "120 Hz" signal processing, many inputs/outputs, speakers, etc.). Even your most basic 30" computer monitor is going to be hundreds of dollars with no tuner at all.

The better Noise Figure specs on set-top converter boxes is mostly due to their simpler design, and not because they spent more money on better components.
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