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Echostar TR40 VS DTV PAL Converter Box

by Katie53 / June 13, 2008 8:10 PM PDT

The reviews of the Echostar TR40 say this digital converter box has a VCR Event Timer. I use 3 old time VCR's attached to 3 analog TV's and I record around 420 hours of programming OTA each season. {about 70 VHS Tapes} During off hours and when rerun season begins, I watch programming I have recorded on a VHS Tape. How can I continue to do so after the change to digital TV? You know, program VCR to record CH 3 at 8:00, CH 27 at 9:00, CH 5 at 10:00, etc., when I am not home.

I thought the Echostar TR40 with the VCR Event Timer would allow me to continue using my existing VCR's. Now, the new DTV PAL comes on the scene and the reviews do not mention a VCR Event Timer.

Does anyone know if the DTV PAL has a VCR Event Timer or if I need to wait for if/when the Echostar TR40 becomes available? My coupons expire July 7.

Or-----are my days of TOTALLY FREE TV over? Sad

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Worry not
by RodderRodder / June 14, 2008 7:52 AM PDT

I have some good news, some possibly better news, and a little bad news.

The DTV Pal will still allow you to use your VCR. That is assuming that your VCRs are TV guide on screen or Gemstar compatible.

If so, you should have a G-link cable (shown in the link above), that you hook up to your VCR with the sensors being attached to the DTV Pal. This will allow you VCR to change the DTV Pal's channel when it comes time to record your shows.

If your VCRs are older and don't have this capability, I'm afraid you might be out of luck. There is an alternative, though. The Echostar TR-50, which is the TR-40 with built in Digital Video Recording will is coming out, which sounds like it would be a better solution for you.

The bad news is that it cannot be purchased with the coupons and even if, won't be out by the time your coupons expires. Sorry.

By the way, I'm under the impression that the TR-40 will still be more like the DTV Pal when it comes out. But if you plan to wait for it, I don't think it would be frowned upon if you ordered some more coupons and had them sent to someone else's name and address. Not that this has been tried, mind you, but it sounds like a viable alternative to me.

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TV Guide On Screen
by Katie53 / June 14, 2008 2:00 PM PDT
In reply to: Worry not

Thanks for the info, Roddy.
I have never even heard of TV Guide On Screen, until now. My VCR's do not have it. I looked it up, it sounds like TVGOS has a LOT of problems.

My old system, look up programs in TV Guide MAGAZINE, set timers on VCR's, seems so much simpler and trouble free. Happy

I just want an easy, simple, cheap way to record programs like I do now! Even if I bought all new VCR/DVD Combos, I don't know that I could manage that TVGOS hook up. But if that is what I need to do---I will.

I just wish thare was someone you could call to figure out and install what you need. I have had enough experience with the sales people at Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. to know that they do not know what they are talking about. I have gone from sales person to sales person with one question and gotten different answers from all of them. How is someone as technically challenged as I am, supposed to get all of this stuff figured out and set up?

Anyway, for now it sounds cheaper to wait for the TR50. As far as getting more coupons....everyone I know is using their coupons....good idea though. Happy

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Tv guide Not required
by muffinmonster / July 19, 2008 11:12 AM PDT
In reply to: Worry not

If your recorder can control a scientific atlanta cable box it will work. Set picture format, audio,closed caption format before seting DTVpal to TV Guide mode. These can not be changed once in this mode. To select channels add 100 to 2 or 3 digit channel no, 5-2 would become 152 ,channel 41-1 would become 511 etc. The DTVpal will behave like it is a cable box,with no guide information,it also can not be turned off except by unpluging

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DTVPal's web site
by BobOnTampaBay / June 15, 2008 4:51 AM PDT

Per DTV Pal's latest web site:
"Event timer
Set a timer to turn your DTVPal on and tuned to the desired channel before your favorite show starts playing
My GUESS is you could tell the DTVPal to turn on and off for a specific event* AND program your VCR to record at a certain time, for a certain duration, on the "line-in" or Ch 3 or 4 (wherever you have your DTVPal inputed to your VCR).
*You might define the specific event by the good old DAY / TIME / CHANNEL method used for decades in VCRs or the Electronic Program Guide method by selecting the program from a grid. With a little luck you will be able to do both.

Here's their web site:

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Changing Channels Automatically
by Katie53 / June 15, 2008 2:24 PM PDT
In reply to: DTVPal's web site

Thanks Bob,

I checked out the link you posted. What concerns me is this, the wording is vague.

"Set a timer to turn your DTVPal on and tuned to the desired channel before your favorite show starts playing

"Turned to the desired channel before...." Does that mean you can only record on one channel while you are away from home? I want to be able to set the VCR to record, let's say---CH 5 ar 8:00, CH 27 at 9:00, CH 8 at 10:00---while I am at work.

My VCR's are not TVGOS compatible either---I hope that isn't going to be a problem. I just use the TV Guide MAGAZINE to get my programming and then set my VCR----so simple and mistake proof---IMO.

Anyway---I sure hope your take on it is correct---for sure---it is going to mean a LOT to me. Happy

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Changing Channels Automatically
by almost_silent / June 19, 2008 4:41 AM PDT

Based on the review I read, the timer for the DTVPAL allows up to 5 events, which means, you could record up to 6 different channels using the VCR's timed recording function. You would leave the DTVPAL on, tuned to the first channel for the first recording, and put the other 5 in the timer, which would be synchronized to the VCR's timer events.

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DTV Pal Box NOT your "Pal !"
by *~*Wisewords / June 25, 2008 9:15 PM PDT

The DTV Pal box is not your "Pal !"
This box has had its name and price changed so many times that one can hardly keep up with it.

One well-known seller started it out at $39.99, then 42.50, then 59.99, all with varying delayed dates for when it would be available. Finally, realizing that the company's actual date of manufacture was unknown and not forth-coming, they canceled orders for sale of the boxes, removing the company from their list of suppliers. (This is well-known to anyone who has been looking for these dubious boxes.) now has the box listed at $79.99, which is double the original price! However, the box still ain't available!!!

This TR-40 or DTV Pal box, has actually not yet been made. It is just all talk! The box has so many desirable features that it sounds too good to be true, and you know how the saying goes:
If it sounds too good to be true,
it probably is.

IMO, I would stay away from this box like poison. The manufacturer has lied about when it will be ready, about the price, and even about the name of their box! I bet that if there are problems with the box, the warranty won't be worth the paper it's written on.

Choose a different box, and save yourself a headache.
The RCA DTA800B has been rated as having excellent sensitivity, however, it is currently unavailable from any suppliers.

The entire Converter Box Program is mismanaged, but that is typical for any government program.
Instead of a 90-day coupon, they all should expire 90 days after the switch-over date of Feb. 17, 2009. In the meantime, money set aside for the program would be collecting interest, but that would make too much sense.

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I ordered two DTV Pals
by Katie53 / June 27, 2008 2:49 AM PDT

Well, I ordered two DTV Pals last night. Here is the site I ordered them from. Supposed to receive them in 7-10 days. So, now we will see.

$119.98 Two Pals at $59.99 each
-80.00 Coupons
+ 8.96 Tax
+17.60 S+H
$ 66.54 Out of Pocket

If and when I receive my Pals, I will let you guys know how they work to record on the VCR's. Keeping my fingers crossed. Happy

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Got Them
by Katie53 / July 5, 2008 2:04 PM PDT
In reply to: I ordered two DTV Pals

Hi! I got my DTV Pals on July 3.

I glanced at the directions-------not even in the mood to try to hook them up. Sad

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DTV Pal Awesome!
by Kenneth159 / July 27, 2008 3:09 AM PDT
In reply to: Got Them

If you are looking for a DTV converter you have to get this one.
I just received mine and hooked it up and am very impressed.
I have an external antenna running to a room on the other side of the house but i decided to hook the DTV Pal up to my 1999 JVC 27 inch stereo tv running on powered rabbit ears antenna on the opposite side of the house.

The only bad thing I have to say about the DTV Pal is when I was walking through the setup wizard it got stuck on the date setup page, but I just unplug it and let it reset,then all was good and I was able to start the wizard over again and complete it without a hitch.
A nice little feature about this unit is you can put in your zip code and then you can go to a weather channel and it will show weather for your very city 24/7
Although I just installed it about 30 minutes ago so I'm going to have to look into the linking to a DVDR for recording and dinkering with the program guide which is something i know nothing about at this point,the thing that really blew me away about this DTV Pal is the tuner sensitivity which is way beyond comparison better than the one built into my JVC stereo TV.

Before Hooking the DTV Pal to my JVC I was always moving around the rabbit ears and never really satisfied with the reception.

Now I get about 30 channels of crystal clear reception.
Rarely do products live up to their, but this DTV pal surpasses it.

If you bought one of the other DTV converters, my condolences.

Ken, Tampabay,Florida

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DTV Pal Awesome!
by Kenneth159 / July 27, 2008 3:15 AM PDT
In reply to: DTV Pal Awesome!

Just wanted to edit a mistake

Now I get about 30 channels of crystal clear reception.
Rarely do products live up to their reputation, but this DTV pal surpasses it.

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class action law suit
by jtybt / July 27, 2008 11:13 PM PDT
In reply to: DTV Pal Awesome!

I think it's about time someone initiated a class action law suit. Most stores like Walmart and Best buy simply are not keeping any kind of supply of digital converters. It's as if they are purposely keeping stocks low so people will be forced to buy new digital TV's from them.

Secondly, the gov't should be sued for poor anticipation of these kinds of problems from greedy manufacturers and outlets.

If the gov't is changing their format without any input from the consumer, they should supply the solution free of charge.

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by dixie_2 / September 29, 2008 6:20 AM PDT
In reply to: DTV Pal Awesome!

o I've read many reviews on CNET indicating there is a huge problem
with the EVENT-TIMER used to schedule programming sent to a VCR.
oo Have you had any difficulties??

o Apparently the problems occur most often with VERSION-100.
VERSION-101 appears to be better.
oo Which version do you have??

o A CNET-review on 7-8-2008 by ARAKNIS said that the
REMOTE-MODEL-1.5ndb is bad. That we should get MODEL-3.2ndb.
oo Is your remote OK???
oo Which model do you have??

Thanks, in advance, for your help!

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by dixie_2 / October 3, 2008 5:07 AM PDT
In reply to: DTV Pal Awesome!

Pleasde let me know how DVDR RECORDING worked out for you.

There have been many complaints about the TIMER. It was encapable of holding TIME which caused preset recording-schedules to fail.

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by jmygrant / September 15, 2008 3:46 AM PDT

Do you listen to AM radio---ball games, sports talk, etc? Then do NOT get the DTV PAL----its power supply will overwhelm your AM receivers. I especially wanted to preserve the AM/FM/ColorTV portable unit that I installed in a bathroom. Tiny DTV PAL looked like the solution. WRONG. Tore up the AM signal completely---it is a BADLY DESIGNED POWER SUPPLY that causes the problem. (An Insignia dtv converter from Radio Shack works just fine).
Does EchoStar know about this? Well here's what they say in their FCC COMPLIANCE statement: "If this equipment does cause harmful interference to radio or television reception, which can be determined by turning the equipment off and on [wrong--OFF was still a problem until I UNPLUGGED the power supply!] the user is encouraged to try to correct the interference by one or more of the following measures: ... Increase the separation between the equipment and TV converter. Connect the equipment into an outlet on a circuit different from that to which the TV converter is connected. [how about a 50 foot extension cord to the garage???] Consult the dealer [Sears laughed at that one] or an experienced radio/TV technician for help." [A different converter solved the particular problem---but I have paid TWICE and now am left with INTERFERING JUNK!!!!]
So there you have it---they know but they don't care at all.

PS---digital audio sucks---the signal to noise ratio is poor. Turn the volume WAY UP on the TV and in soft audio situations you hear the background buzz or hum of your TV amplifier. Not nearly as good as the analog signal. And with the volume on my little portable unit set at MAXIMUM, I can just hear the TV over the bathroom exhaust fan....

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?Caveat Emptor? Bought two DTVPAL ( Echostar)
by mffblf / December 4, 2008 12:22 AM PST

?Caveat Emptor? Bought two DTVPAL ( Echostar) converter?s from Solid Signal ($112)- both went bad within 30 days- both retailer & manufacture are real PITA?s to deal with. Another government program sticking it to us - I should of learned by now.


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That's not all....
by jtybt / December 4, 2008 1:35 AM PST

I've had to return the DTV twice because of multiple problems. As stated, the timer can't be adjusted. The remote doesn't respond half the time. The unit turns itself OFF and ON anytime it likes, often in the middle of recordings. The timers don't seem to keep all your programs in memory so you can't depend on them.

The RCA converter remote also works intermittently.

The Insignia so far has had no issues.

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How about the Zinwell ZAT-970A?
by lar01 / October 5, 2008 4:23 AM PDT
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Re: How about the Zinwell ZAT-970A
by almost_silent / November 30, 2008 1:00 PM PST

From reviews I have read, the Zinwell offers a slightly better picture than the DTVPal, and has more timer events.

A major weakness of the DTVPal is the inability to manually set the clock to the actual time. The time sent by local stations is supposed to be correct, but is frequently off by a few minutes, sometimes more. The Zinwell allows its clock to be set manually, in case local stations are not provideing the correct time. However the Zinwell uses a 24-hour clock.

I can't say how the two tuners compare. The DTVPal has a better electronic program guide, which can also be used to set up timer events. If i remember correctly, the Zinwell's timer events are set by channel, date, and times.

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Got a Zinwell, now need one more box
by lar01 / February 16, 2009 1:37 AM PST

I got the Zinwell 970A. Picture is great, setting timers isn't fun but once set, what someone else said was true. Simply program your VCR for either 3 or 4 (whichever channel you use with the Zinwell), and the Zinwell will change to the correct channels and send the signal out to the VCR on channel 3/4. If the Zinwell is off or on doesn't matter, since it turns on if necessary and changes on time. There is no programmed turnoff after an event, so it stays on until its final sleep time comes up (default is after 4 hours if remote wasn't used).

I'm now either going to get a Zinwell 950A (newer, uses preferable Silicon tuner instead of CAN tuner), or a DTV Pal or TR40 to go with my second VCR. I like the way the DTV Pal/TR40 seem to let you program similar to a TIVO (from the Program Guide, possibly like a Season Pass?), but keep reading mixed reactions here about the DTV Pal/TR40. And does anyone know if the DTV Pal/TR40 are the same? One is cheaper than the other, so why would I ever buy the more expensive one?

Easiest, of course, would be the DTV Pal DVR, which would replace two boxes and my two VCRs, but $250 is a little steep.

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How do you manually reset the Zinwell ZAT-970A's clock?
by lar01 / March 18, 2009 6:23 AM PDT

You said in your posting that one advantage of the Zinwell ZAT-970A is that you can manually set its clock. I own one, the time it is showing is now several minutes fast, but I can't figure out how to manually reset the clock. Can you please explain how? Thanks.

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Zinwell ZAT-970A does have Program Timer for VCR function!
by cwinexas / February 16, 2009 12:24 PM PST

The Zinwell so far has been functioning pretty well but sometimes the picture breaks up, says bad or no signal, not sure if that is the fault of my antenna or something about the broadcasting area, or something I havent learned about to fine tune, but it does have the 8 event timer that only one other converter has according to my research, and who wants to give up what we have all taken for granted for so long, to set your VCR to tape your favorite programs to view later??? With the Zinwell you can set up to 8 times for the TV to change to a set channel, you dont select time duration, you still have to do that with your regular VCR program timer function, set the VCR to channel 3 all the time in other words and set the time and length, daily, weekly etc as you normally would on the VCR, then set the Zinwell to the channel to change to and the start only can select once only, daily, which will include Saturday and Sunday, no weekday only option, weekly or monthly.... the part that needed clarification is the whole process, its not in the very minimum directions that came in the box but I did find the manual on line at but there is still one thing that needs clarification on setting the time, it says and just think start time when it says wakeup.......
"Time: Press ENTER and numeric buttons to input your
wakeup time. Once the timefs up, no matter what the
system is in standby mode or in playing mode, the
system will automatically switch to the channel you want
and start to play.
Press EXIT button, it will ask you gAre you sure to

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Zinwell malfunction
by lar01 / March 27, 2009 1:49 AM PDT

I've loved my Zinwell 970A until last night. I set up timers for two programs, one at 8 pm one station followed by another at 9 pm on a different station. I also programmed my VCR to record from 8-10. Was I disappointed when I discovered that the entire two hours that were recorded were of the same station that I had it tune to at 8 pm. It actually still showed the second timer as still active, with the correct station, yesterday's date, and 9:00 pm when I checked it at about 10:30 pm. There was nothing wrong in the way I set it up, but the second timer just never triggered. Anyone have a constructive suggestion? It's hard to be hooked on a TV series and then lose an episode because your converter box just decided to ignore its instructions.

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