Digital TV tuner!
I finally have the new RCA DV1501 Digital TV Box to test and review, and compare to the first model which I already own, the DV1402.
(Full disclosure: I was given a review unit by the official distributor, Search Commercial, Inc. Thanks, Abell and Margaret. They met up with me yesterday to give me the unit and an interview.)
Now the only reason I bought the original model was because of the HDMI output; the original ABS-CBN box only had analog output. On the DV1501, the HDMI port is still there, although Search still doesn’t include an HDMI cable with the unit (they’re a bit expensive), and include only the analog connectors.
Nothing much has really changed, in terms of operation. It’s still got the same interface and the same GUI, the same connectors at the back—HDMI, analog video and audio, coax antenna input, and a single USB port on the front to connect a flash drive or external hard disk to. Aside from providing clear digital TV, it still is also a media player and a TV recorder, and those things haven’t changed.
The casing of DV1501 is slightly bigger than the first model, because it now has its power cord directly coming from the unit and making an external power supply unnecessary, as it’s built-into the unit itself. The DV1402 had an external power adaptor, which allowed for the model itself to be slimmer and smaller, but added something to the mix. Well, at least that’s one less thing to worry about.
The DV1501 now has actual buttons at the front of the unit to turn the power on and off, a dedicated menu button and a four-way rocker navigation switch that allows you to completely control the unit from the unit itself. Previously, all the controls on the older model (including the power switch) was accessible only via an on-screen menu controlled by the provided remote. So if you lost the remote of the DV1402, you’re SOL. Now, you can control it directly on the unit itself if you want.
There is also a simple LED display on the front that tells you what channel you’re on, which is convenient, but completely unnecessary as the on-screen display gives you the same information. On the DV1402 you only had a single light that switches from green (power on) to red (power off).
Perhaps the best and most useful improvement is that the DV1501 includes a bigger, powered five-meter cabled indoor antenna.
(There is this menu option from the old model that always puzzled me, because it apparently didn’t do anything even if you switch it on and off: “Antenna Power”. Turns out, it was for this antenna!)
The new powered indoor antenna has a longer 5-meter cable, is much bigger than the old one and has a wide base with a light that turns on if you power up the antenna from the menu.
The new antenna has a built-in 5-watt booster in it that delivers better signals, and ostensibly, more stations. I don’t really know about that, but I noticed that some of the signals, which had previously been intermittent and unstable, had become solid and steady. But you still really need an outdoor antenna to catch some of the weaker stations. That requirement hasn’t changed.
While we’re on the topic, there is the question of authenticity of the product as actually being made by RCA. It has long been in discussion, particularly in forums like PhilMUG, that the units are fakes.
I’ve confirmed that they aren’t just some Chinese knockoffs rebranded with some famous and more established name so they will sell to the unsuspecting public.
It is designed and made by RCA abroad specifically for the Philippine market, and also for some of our Asian neighbors. But the packaging is made here, with a simple manual in Tagalog included in the box to make sure buyers actually understand how to use the product and not have to bug Search Commercial, or return the product because they couldn’t figure out how to use it.
If you can live without the special “blocked” ABS-CBN channels (which is weird because it’s supposed to be “free” digital TV), the RCA DV1501 Digital TV Box is available for around P2k in selected stores, while the old model is still available at P1600. It’s loads cheaper than the analog-only ABS-CBN TVplus, which sells for P2.5k.
For my money, this is the one to get. Hey, it’s got HDMI, plays media and records TV broadcasts, aside from providing clear digital TV. And it’s branded. And inexpensive. What’s not to like?