You’re probably thinking this is the last thing you need. After all converter boxes like this Channel Master CM-7003 were popular a decade ago when people needed to make their old TVs work with new standards. Really, though, there’s more to this little box than meets the eye. I had a chance to test one out and I’m here to tell you a little about it.
This converter box is about the size of an average full-sized streaming device and comes with a programmable universal remote. It won’t take up a lot of space on your shelf, but the remote is only infrared so you can’t hide it behind a TV.
Setup is easy but not always intuitive. Luckily most of the default choices are good so you won’t have to go into the menus much.
You get a lot of function out of this box. There’s a full guide for every channel and even better…
…by connecting almost any flash drive or USB hard drive to the front, you gain the ability to pause live TV and set recordings. Pausing live TV comes in very handy if the doorbell rings or you need to go into the other room for any reason, and it’s the reason most people like DVRs.
Setting recordings is easy enough from within the guide but you are limited to one recording at a time. You can schedule recordings for the same time each day or week, but if the show runs long or moves to a different time the box won’t catch that.
While this box will let you make use of that old, pre-2007 TV for a little longer, it does have a full HD HDMI output so it can be used for current TVs. It can convert a monitor to a TV as well, and if there’s no speaker in the monitor, you can use the included RCA outputs to feed a speaker.
It’s really hard to test the sensitivity of a tuner since most TVs and converter boxes don’t have a real signal meter or bit error rate display (which is actually more important than raw signal.) So all I can say is that the CM-7003 was about as sensitive as my 2011 Samsung TV, which was the last year that Samsung put high-quality tuner chips in their TVs. So it may be more sensitive than the TV that you have now. As they say, your results may vary.
So let’s line up the plusses and minuses here.
- Low cost
- Small size
- Strong tuner
- Can pause live TV (USB flash drive or hard drive not included)
- Can permanently record TV
- Can turn old monitors or old TVs into working TVs
- Menus are a little hard to understand
- No RF Remote
- Only one recording at a time
Personally I think this is one of those boxes you buy because you know you’ll use it at some point. We have a decent supply of them at Solid Signal right now but the whole converter box industry is tightening up and if you care at all about antenna TV now or in the future you’ll want to have something like this on hand.