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Samsung SIR-T150 HDTV Decoder review:

Samsung SIR-T150 HDTV Decoder

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The Good Very attractive price; excellent fit and finish; intuitive internal menu system with great graphics.

The Bad Has only one radio-frequency (RF) antenna input.

The Bottom Line This HDTV decoder is a very good performer and offers excellent value for the money.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall

Samsung has jumped into the HDTV scene with its Tantus line of digital-ready televisions. To round out the line, the company is offering the SIR-T150, an off-air HDTV decoder. While this box does a great job of picking up local terrestrial broadcasts, it is not a combination satellite/terrestrial receiver like RCA's DTC100. But for those who can't receive satellite TV, this decoder does a superb job. Samsung has jumped into the HDTV scene with its Tantus line of digital-ready televisions. To round out the line, the company is offering the SIR-T150, an off-air HDTV decoder. While this box does a great job of picking up local terrestrial broadcasts, it is not a combination satellite/terrestrial receiver like RCA's DTC100. But for those who can't receive satellite TV, this decoder does a superb job.

Connects to any TV
Regardless of what you have in your home theater, the SIR-T150 is well apportioned, with input and output jacks to accommodate everything. One RF antenna input and an RF-through jack connect to the TV antenna input (presumably for analog reception) for any local channel you need. The 15-pin, VGA-style RGBHV output; one set of component video outputs (Y, Pb, Pr); one S-Video output; and one composite video output assure that you'll be able to connect to any display. There's also a switch on the back of the box to select either the RGB or component video output and another for choosing between 480i, 480p, and 720p or 1,080i output resolutions. It is also nice that Samsung doesn't skimp on the audio; there is a set of six-channel analog audio outputs, as well as both coaxial and optical 5.1 digital audio outputs.

The initial setup proved to be a snap. One autoscan and the set picked up all the available channels in New York without a hitch. We found the internal menu system to be highly intuitive, and the remote control with joystick was a pleasure to use. Using the Marantz PD5010D 50-inch plasma TV as our HDTV display, the Samsung unit performed flawlessly. The SIR-T150 is among the most sensitive tuners we've tested at CNET, which is a good thing--especially if you are in a fringe area where reception is spotty with less sensitive tuners.

Well supported
If you do run into trouble, though, Samsung has you pretty well covered with a toll-free tech support number that's available from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, seven days a week. Otherwise, the warranty offers the fairly standard one-year parts-and-labor coverage.

The Samsung SIR-T150, at a list price of $699, represents a really strong value in the category. Its excellent performance, intuitive and easily navigable internal menu system, and refined fit and finish make the SIR-T150 an awesome choice in terrestrial set-top boxes for off-air HDTV signal reception. Heck, it even has both kinds of digital audio outputs, making it a snap to incorporate into you home theater. We highly recommend it to anyone who has no need for--or can't receive--HDTV via satellite.

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