|RCA DTC 100 HDTV Receiver|
|Home Theater Media Servers Satellite & Cable Receivers/PVRs/DVRs/TiVo|
|Written by Kim Wilson|
|Sunday, 01 October 2000|
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The RCA DTC100 receives, decodes and displays standard definition NTSC broadcasts from local and cable stations, plus all DTV formats, as well as DIRECTV satellite programming. Retailing for $ 649.00, the DTC100 provides a comprehensive array of audio and video outputs, serving a range of display devices from standard TVs to many high-definition display devices. RF, Composite, S-Video and 15-pin VGA video outputs are supplied, along with RCA-type connections for analog audio in addition to an optical (Toslink) discrete digital audio output (however, no COAX digital audio connection is included).
The DTC100’s HD monitor output supports high-resolution video up to 1080i. To achieve this signal, the 15-pin D-subminiature connector is used to provide a component output (RGB) that is compatible with multi-sync displays. The horizontal resolution at the HD monitor output for standard definition digital broadcasts may be up to 720 pixels per line and, for high-definition broadcasts, can reach 1920 pixels per line. The vertical output of the HD monitor output is either 540p (progressive) or 1080i (interlaced), depending upon the input format.
When using a high-resolution TV, all other formats, such as standard definition broadcasts, regular TV broadcasts and DVD discs, are upconverted to 540p for an ultra-sharp and vivid progressive scan picture. When a standard TV without high-resolution capability is used, regardless of the received signal format (analog or digital, standard or high definition), the output of the NTSC video is nominally 480i.
What makes the DTC100 most attractive is its versatility. In addition to receiving the DIRECTV satellite signal, the DTC100 accepts signals from two separate indoor/outdoor antennas, one of which can be a cable feed. This is an important feature, as local stations via satellite are not available in all markets. A HDTV antenna such as the Terk TV55 ($129.99) or HDTV60 ($399.99) may be used for receiving local digital broadcasts not available through DIRECTV. All these choices make the DTC100 the only receiver you will ever need, no matter how you get your TV and HDTV broadcasts.
Installing the HD receiver itself is as simple as hooking up any other source component. If you have a separate A/V processor or receiver with a Dolby Digital 5.1 decoder, use the optical output on the DTC100, so that Dolby Digital broadcasts are properly decoded. The video output you choose is dependent on the type of TV set you are using and the type of input connections it supplies. Always use the best possible connection: S-Video over composite or RF; component (RGB) over all others.
While the DTC100 uses a 15-pin VGA connector for HD signal transmission, the Princeton AF3.0 HD monitor I was using only accepted a computer input on its VGA input and would not sync properly with the DTC100’s HD monitor output. I had to go to Extron (www.extron.com) for a special cable (approx. $60.00) that split out into five BNC connectors (red, green and blue, plus two sync signals) so that I could patch into the Princeton. many of the newer TVs and A/V processors have adopted the RCA-type YPrPb component I/O configuration, so in many cases, some type of conversion device will be required when connecting the DTC100 to a monitor.
For DIRECTV’s HDTV programming, a separate oval-shaped satellite dish (as opposed to the more common round dish) antenna is required. This elliptical satellite dish antenna receives signals from multiple DIRECTV satellite orbital locations (101 and 119 degree west longitude) and comes with two dual LNBs. This antenna is not included with the DTC100. RCA, as well as third-party manufacturers such as TERK, supply these dishes, which cost in the neighborhood of $200 to $250.
The basic procedure for installation still applies. The dish must face south and have no obstructions, such as trees or buildings, in its path. Aligning to two separate satellites, however, proved to be much trickier. I had the antenna installed by a local firm, World Security. World Security specializes in alarm, satellite and home theater wiring. Normally it takes them about an hour to attach the antenna to the house and only a few minutes using the receiver’s built-in signal strength meter to adjust the dish for maximum reception.
With the oval antenna it took much more finessing and painstaking tweaking to get both signals perfectly aligned. I was in the home theater on a two-way radio with the installer up on a ladder. I called out the signal strength as it fluctuated across the on-screen meter and he moved the dish first vertically, then horizontally, in increments of millimeters to get the absolute strongest signal from both satellites. Fortunately, the end result was magnificent. When that HDTV program appeared, we were all mesmerized.
The remote that is included with the DTC100 is a pre-programmed universal remote so that all video sources and your sound systems master volume can be controlled directly from the remote supplied by RCA. Command codes for many major manufacturers are included in the owner’s manual, so that setting up the controller was practically hassle free.
The set-up process got a little confusing at times, because both the TV and the receiver had settings for aspect ratio and captioning. When I had the captioning off on the DTC100, it took a few minutes to realize I was getting captions from the TV. With regard to the aspect ratio, set the DTC100 based on the screen dimensions of your TV (in my case, 16:9) to ensure that 16:9 and 4:3 programs are automatically displayed in the proper aspect ratio.
Separate profiles for different family members can be created, meaning Mom doesn’t have to step through all of Dad’s sports channels. The kids profiles can be set up to access only those stations sanctioned by Mom and Dad. Each each profile can be set at a specific rating such as TV-MA (Mature Audiences Only) to TV- Y (All children). Personally, I just got rid of all those channels that were unavailable on my package or that I never watch.