The Zinwell ZAT-970A is a solid DTV converter box overall, and the clear choice for those who need a basic DTV converter for use with a VCR or DVD recorder. That's because it is one of the few basic digital TV converters that includes built-in timers for unattended recording. Programming the timers is a little difficult as it is done VCR-style, but user complaints about that are relatively few. More are unhappy with the rudimentary electronic programming guide, which shows program information for only the current and next show on any given channel. A minority complain about timers that let them down on occasion.
Performance is good, though most say that for the very best picture quality the Channel Master CM-7000 (*Est. $55) is tough to beat. However, the CM-7000 lacks timers of any kind and is hard to find. A step-up model, the Channel Master CM-7000PAL (*Est. $335), adds a digital video recorder (DVR) that can store up to 250 hours of programs and support for high def, but it is much more expensive. Features of the ZAT-970A are slim beyond the timers, but analog bypass is included. The ability to add channels manually and not just by scanning is also well appreciated.
There are a few places to get information about the Zinwell ZAT-970A. The best is ConsumerReports.org, where the DTV converter is among the many tested and evaluated. User feedback is plentiful at Amazon.com and AVSForum.com.
ConsumerReports.org has the most comprehensive report on DTV converters we've found, and it includes the Zinwell ZAT-970A. Discussion isn't very long, and detailed ratings aren't provided, but information about picture quality, sound quality and usability is. Unlike many reviews here, this article is offered free to non-subscribers.
Review: DTV Converter Box Guide, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, March 2009
The Zinwell ZAT-970A has received lots of feedback here (more than 450 owner reviews at last look) and a very solid rating of 3.9 stars out of 5. That said, a significant minority of users report issues of various types, including timers that occasionally misfire. More, however, say they are completely to mostly pleased and add that the ZAT-970A works pretty much as promised.
Review: Zinwell ZAT-970A Digital to Analog TV Converter Box, Contributors to Amazon.com
The Zinwell ZAT-970A gets a bit of discussion here, including a main thread that's more than 1,000 posts long. This site is most useful for learning about how the ZAT-970A works, and how well it pleases -- or displeases -- users. It is included in the forum's list of best and worst DTV converter boxes, but with too few votes to draw any conclusions.
Review: Coupon Eligible Converter Box (CECB), Contributors to AVSForum.com