Dish Network DTVPal Digital TV Converter Box Reviews

This is honestly one of the best TV converter boxes that money can buy. It comes with an incredible set of features, along with the best program guide out there, and the best picture quality we've seen as of yet. Unfortunately it is no longer available from retailers but if you are lucky you just might be able to snag one on eBay or Amazon being sold by private sellers. If you can I wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger.

Product Details: Out of all the different converter boxes we have looked at this one provides its views with one of the best pictures that we have seen. It's just as good as you'd get with cable or a new digital TV. It it extremely close to the quality you get while watching a DVD. If you want picture quality more than any other feature you can't go wrong with this. It's overall upgrade from analog is astronomical. Don't be fooled though, it's not 1080P, no converter box is going to give you that. As far as sound quality is considered this Dish Network box again rates out just as good as any other that we've seen. It is 1005%top notch and you can't ask for better than crystal clear sound. It's sure to give you whatever quality your television speakers will allow. It's so good it may remind you of the sound quality you get from cable It is one of the best boxes available and it is sold by a large number of retailers for around $55. After using the coupon you can get it for $15, not much to complain about there. The DTVPal is no longer available but a very good alternative is its upgraded version, the Dish Network DTVPal Plus.

In regards to the features that come with your purchase it again stands out with excellent features that are sure to impress you. It comes with the clear cut, far and away best EPG (electronic programming guide) out there. With this guy you get all of the same guide information that comes with a paid service like Dish Network Satellite. You get the shows length of time, show title, extended show description and more. You even get this same information for all shows that are scheduled over the next several days. It also comes with 3 different aspect ratio settings so you can set the picture to fit your TV screen. Finally, it comes with a robust closed captioning setup that can be adjusted and also provides the pass-through feature so you don't lose your favorite small town analog channel that doesn't have to make the digital switch yet.

This TV converter box is one of the most thought out boxes on the market. Clearly the guys at Dish knew what they were doing when they planned this out. My assumption is they plan to make a little bit of money on the box but also use it to market and get converter box users to eventually subscribe to their paid service. Whether it be within a few months or a few year. Overall, it provides viewers with an amazing viewing experience that can't be rivaled by anything other than other versions of it's own. We highly recommend this converter box and in tandem with a good digital antenna the sky is the limit here.

Features & Specs

Analog Pass-Through
V-Chip Lock Parental Control Setting
Configurable Closed Captioning
Electronic Program Guide
Compact Size

What Is Included With Your Purchase?

Converter Box
Remote Control
RF Cable
Installation Guide
Power Cord


  1. Great converter box, but one potential error in the review. The unit does NOT come with a universal remote. Did you mean that you can use a universal remote with it?

  2. Went to Sears today and found this converter on the shelf. Was surprised that Sears said they could take the Gov't Discount card for $40 but then could not take a credit card for the remaining amount due; I told them all other stores I'd bought a converter at could take a credit card for the remaining amount due, that the problem is a Sears-thing. They decided to sell me a gift card for the amount due and then use that to pay the balance after the Gov't card was used for the $40 off. Sears is a BAD place to be selling the box rated as one of the best. What was DTV thinking?

  3. Your right, it doesn't come with a universal remote, oops.. Don't know how I mad that mistake, sorry.

    Thats really weird about Sears, I don't know what to say except that they should be able to fix it easily...

  4. Will the channels change when you set up to record on this converter box? example you want to record channel 5 from 8-9pm then channel 9 from 9-10 pm

  5. Be very wary about buying from this manufaturer of this box..

    There have been numerous errors in the first versions of the software from the DTVPal accounting for timer issues. The TR-40 CRA is the same box as the DTVpal software version???unknown however F100/F101 have been reporting serious glitches with the timer
    I do not know what software the tr-40 has in it..however the 1 I have bought. the timers do not work so I cannot use my vcr as I wish...Please check the reviews of this box before you wish to use the timers....if this is important to you they are posted all over the web

  6. Trying to make sense of various reviews. Consumer Reports says, "Picture quality was generally comparable to that of a good analog broadcast with digital standard-definition programs. But downconverted HD broadcasts are soft and lacking in detail, more comparable to VHS (videotape) than DVD quality"

    Then on this site I read that it has among the best pictures tested. Are you both looking at different equipment? All I'm looking for is a converter for an analog TV at my cottage. It's in a rural area. My concern is the downconverted HD. Eventually, everything will be HD. I'm not about to invest in an HD set that will sit in a house that's empty 90% of the time. How were your tests done? Did you test downconverting?

  7. Dear Doug, I don't think DishNet specified that this was a HD converter box. Maybe you are confusing "High Definition" with "Digital", since the difference has not been described much in the public service ads about the transition. ALL televisions made after 2004 (and some earlier ones) have a digital tuner, but NOT ALL TVs that have a digital tuner are HD. You will not be able to watch in HD unless the converter box AND YOUR TV are high definition types. All full-power TV stations will broadcast in only digital after 2-17-09, but not all of them necessarily have to be HD, and even the ones that are broadcasting in HD will still be receivable through a non-HD converter box. The box is only needed for converting the digital signal to analog form, so that your old analog TV can display the picture. If it works well and you get a sufficient signal from the station, you will get as perfect a picture as an analog set can give, which is pretty good, but not equal to the resolution of HD. So you will be quite able to watch your station with a "standard" (non-HD) converter box, but you'll only get a very sharp analog picture, instead of a somewhat sharper HD picture.

  8. "Retired guy" says help
    Help. I have a large o/s antenna with rotor and amp. I live at a high elevation on Cumberland Plateau. I get all the Nashville stations in analog. I bought the dish Pal converter box. I get all the channels plus others but I can't get Channel 5. It's perfect in analog but says no signal in digital. This is a major station. Any ideas, I had the converter sweep several times.

  9. Retired Guy,

    I would suggest that you call up the station and check if they have made the switch to digital yet. If not and you don't have a converter box with analog pass through then that would be the problem.

    Like I said though, you best bet would be to check with the local station that you are not getting.

  10. i just love my dtvpal, its the best of the best, don't get one online got to kmart or sears and get a phipips 50 decible amplified atenna and set it on forty not fifty , thats four red led dots. set it up in the attic poit it general direction

  11. I have been using this box as a demo unit at work for quite some time now. The reception is just fine with rabbit ears, and the picture is great.

    The real plus for this unit is the Dish Network TV guide software the box uses. The guide displays several channels worth at the same time. I think it is one of the better guides available.

    The unit itself is made of a plastic case, very small in size, and has the composite phono plug connectors in back.

  12. I have a two DTV Pal Plus converter boxes. I am having trouble with both of them in that they flicker between two screen image sizes while I am watching a channel with a signal strength of about 70-80. I initally thought this was a signal strength issue but I would think those signal strengths would be enough to get a good signal. Has anyone else seen this problem? Does anyone know how to fix it?? It is VERY annoying!!!


  13. I have an RCA converter box that is a POS. Too many problems to list them all. Do any of these problems apply to this Dish Network box? When i turn off the tv for a while the box has to be reprogramed to get all the stations back. That really sucks. It takes way too long to lock in on the stations when you change. The RCA is just a very slow primitive POS. Thanks for any help.

  14. It is not normal for DTVPal Plus (or other converter boxes) to flicker between different screen sizes, even if the signal is weak, and anyway it usually requires the meter on this model to register only 58-66 in order to get solid reception. If it changes sizes/formats by itself, that is a defect in the box, and you should call the customer service number in the user's manual and make arrangemnets to return the boxes and get replacements. The earlier DTVPal Plus boxes were notorious for other problems, and apparently they are still having a problem making a completely bug-free converter. The picture and sound are among the best, though, if you finally get one that doesn't have any problems. Good luck!

  15. REGARDING RCA converters - the later models were given pretty good ratings, so if an RCA box has something that just isn't working, that may be a defect in that particular box, so ask the dealer/manufacturer for a replacement. To "Anonymous" - I assume that when you said you 'turned off the TV', you turned off a power strip that the converter box was also plugged into. Apparently the converter box
    (like many of them) does not have a long-lasting (if any) battery to retain its memory. So leave the power strip turned on, and turn off the TV separately with its own on/off button. That way the converter box will stay on and presumably retain its memory of the channels it already found.
    . Many - maybe most - brands have problems with at least some small percentage of their boxes. Base on the information I've seen and my own experience with a few models, I would say that the best ones, for an overall combination of good performance and reliability, are the Channel Master CM-7000 (their only model, not analog pass-through); Tivax STB T-8 (has pass through); Zenith DTT 901 (pass-through) and Zenith DTT 900 (non pass-through) - these Zenith models are generally unavailable now, but you might still find an Insignia NS-DXA1 (non pass-through, a few available) or INSIGNIA NS-DXA1 APT (pass-through, less likely to be available)); the Insignia boxes are supposedly the same as the Zenith ones except for the outer case and the name. Also well rated, but I haven't seen one, is Artec T3A Pro (non pass-through) and Artec T3AP Pro (pass-through). I think Artec has come out with a couple newer models since, which hopefully would be as good or better than the old ones, but I haven't seen ratings on them yet. I have also seen some good things about the Access DTA1080D and DTA1080U (both pass-through). Winegard usually makes high quality products, but I haven't seen much data about their converter box. The RCA DTA800B1 actually got fairly good reviews, so maybe it's just that your particular one had defects. Many of the DTVPal Plus boxes turned themselves on and off occasionally and therefore could be used efficiently only as non-pass through, but that can be OK for many users. The more recent batches of them seem to have a different problem; and the general operation of them is not very user-friendly for a number of its functions. But their picture and sound quality are quite high, so for someone who gets fairly strong signals at their location and doesn't expect to need to do frequent scanning or changes in the box's settings, even this model might work out well.
    An important consideration is also what particular features you need, which of course varies from person to person, and the exact way the box works (how user-friendly it is, etc.), so if possible, try to see one in use or ask all relevant questions of someone who has used that model. NOTE that it VARIES GREATLY from time to time and from one dealer to another dealer as to availablity, price, and whether they accept the coupon. So to get a good deal on a suitable model for you can take quite a bit of research time on the Internet, etc. Good luck.

  16. My DTVPal PLUS failed after 6 months of twice-a-week use--it could be reliably turned on only by unplugging the power supply and then plugging it back in, and even then it shut itself back off within a minute. It refused to respond to the remote (and yes, the batteries are fine and inserted correctly). Needless to say, I'm not happy.

  17. I have another brand converter box and have no trouble with it, but the DTV Pal keeps losing signal. Box does not always turn on or shut off, maybe it is just the remote. I have replaced batteries many time, but it did not solve the problem. My other TV is on the same antenna and has no problem. I took it back to Sears, they do no stock any converter boxes and would only give me $12 for the return and keep my $40 coupon money. So I am struggling with what I have. Any suggestions to solve my problem would be appreciated. Do I just have the one DTV Pal with a problem? Mary

  18. . Dear Mary,
    . In case you haven't solved this problem already...there might be a problem with the cable going to the box that doesn't work as well,(damaged cable; loose connector, etc.); if it is a much longer cable than the one going to the other TV, that might make the difference; if you are using a different model converter box, that could make a difference (I think the DTV - especially the later model DTV Pal Plus - models were fairly good about this, though they usually had other problems, like shutting themselves off). If you are using the same mdel at the TV that works OK, you could use a two-way splitter at that box (maybe with a small amplifier) and run one of the cables to the second TV. You could also try using the amlifier directly on the cble from the antenna, and see if that make the second TV work OK even now.
    . I am an antenna installer, and have a DTV Pal Plus myself, and if you need other advice you are welcome to call me at 805-961-3975 (24 hour voicemail).


Please do not spam our comments section. Only clean and family friendly comments will be approved. No profanity, and please be constructive. People not only want to hear that a product stinks or works great, they want to hear why.