The Good Solid video quality and reception; easy-to-use design, especially for digital TV amateurs; good aspect ratio controls for handling wide-screen 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 Zenith DTT900 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' note: We found the Zenith DTT900 and the Insignia NS-DXA1 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 Zenith DTT900 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 DTT900 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 DTT900'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 DTT900 is one of the better options currently available, but buyers would be wise to wait until more boxes are on the market.