Insignia NS-DXA1 review: Insignia NS-DXA1

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.7
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 6.0
  • Performance: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Solid video quality and reception; easy-to-use design, especially for digital TV amateurs; decent aspect ratio controls for handling widescreen programs on standard TVs; attractive design; remote can control the TV's power.

The Bad Program guide is very basic; small remote control buttons aren't ideal for seniors; audio quality is subpar.

The Bottom Line The Insignia NS-DXA1 DTV converter box has an easy-to-use design and solid video quality, but buyers should be aware of cheaper--and possibly better--alternatives coming in the future.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

Editors' note: We found the Insignia NS-DXA1 and the Zenith DTT900 have virtually identical design, features, and performance; therefore, their reviews are the same.

The FCC has pushed back the DTV transition several times already, but it looks as if it will shut off over-the-air analog TV signals on February 17, 2009. That means owners of analog TV will need to pony up for a DTV converter box if they want to continue getting their free over-the-air TV (read our Quick Guide to the DTV transition to find out if you'll be affected). Luckily, it shouldn't cost you too much, as anyone affected can apply for a $40 DTV converter box coupon from the U.S. government.

The Insignia NS-DXA1 is one of the DTV boxes that shoppers can buy with the coupon, and it's worth a serious look. On arguably the most important features--reception and video quality--the NS-DXA1 performs strongly, outperforming the other boxes we've looked at so far. We did have some nitpicks: the remote is too small, audio quality is subpar, and we would have liked a full-scale EPG (onscreen electronic program guide). However, these caveats are for the most part overshadowed the NS-DXA1's other strengths and make it a good choice for your government-subsidized coupon. Our biggest hesitation is price--with a list price of $60, you'll have to kick in $20 of real money in addition to the coupon. That's compared with Echostar's upcoming DTV converter box, which--with its $40 retail price--will effectively be free. If you're itching to start watching digital over-the-air TV right away, the NS-DXA1 is one of the better options currently available, but buyers would be wise to wait until more boxes are on the market.

Design
The Insignia NS-DXA1's design is simple, but we liked it. The main chassis is made of black metal, accented by a plastic faceplate that has the popular glossy black look to it. The metal body makes it feel more like a more expensive item, especially considering that most other DTV boxes are made of plastic. In the center of the faceplate is a small LED light that glows blue when the device is on and red when it's off. To the right of the light are channel up and down button, and further right is the power button. Overall, the NS-DXA1is one of the more attractive boxes available.

The first thing you'll notice about the NS-DXA1's included remote control is that it's small. That's unfortunate, because we actually liked the button layout on the remote, but it's not a good option for older buyers with less-than-perfect eyesight. (If you're looking for a DTV box with large remote buttons, check out the RCA DTA800.) If you can get past the small size, it's actually pretty decent, with individual button rockers for volume and channel up/down, and a large directional pad up top. We liked the inclusion of a variety of buttons, such as a handy signal strength checker, the zoom button, and closed-captioning. We also liked how the remote handled digital substations--if you hit "4" on the remote, a menu pops up on the screen allowing you to choose which channel (4.1, 4.2, 4.4, 41.1, for example) you'd like to watch. Also note that it is capable of controlling a TV, although that capability is limited to turning it on and off.

Features
The NS-DXA1 includes a very basic program. Hitting the guide button brings up the "Simple Guide," which shows what's currently on a channel and what will be on next. The EPGs on more advanced products such as TiVo or even standard digital cable boxes usually show more information, such as program data for several hours in the future for several channels at a time. It's definitely better than nothing--which may be what many buyers of this box are used to--but there's definitely room for improvement.


The NS-DXA1's simple EPG lets you see what's currently playing and what's on next, but that's it.

Aspect ratio is handled well on the NS-DXA1. This is an important feature because the NS-DXA1 will most commonly be used with older, analog TVs with a standard 4:3 aspect ratio, but an increasing amount of digital TV is presented in wide-screen (16:9). The NS-DXA1 has four options, which you can cycle through with the "Zoom" button on the remote.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy

Insignia NS-DXA1

Part Number: NS-DXA1 Released: May. 1, 2008
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications

  • Release date May. 1, 2008