HDTV Receiver Zinwell ZAT-600HD

HDTV Receiver Zinwell ZAT-600HD¬†external HDTV receiver is probably the smallest unit in this category. With a sleek black plastic casing, it resembles a PC modem more than a tuner, and is a fairly unsightly box as a result. This isn’t the sort of high caliber component most users are going to proudly want to display as part of their home entertainment systems. On the plus side, this unit is small enough to tuck away, and because of its size can be used lying flat or on its side.

But this is clearly a case of function over form, and the Zinwell ZAT-600HD isn’t something you’d likely consider for the looks; it’s what it can deliver. It is a sleek external video receiver for HDTV content, and it is meant to be used between an antenna and a Freesat TV or video projector. In fact, this box requires an external antenna to get any signal, but it can be used with smaller indoor HDTV antennas should you happen to be close enough to a broadcast transmitter.

Zinwell Satellite Receiver

The Zinwell ZAT-600HD supports all 18 ATSC formats, and HDTV output formats including 1080i and 720p. As expected, it down-converts HD content for analog TVs. For HD sources, it features a component video output along with an S/PDIF digital optical audio output, S-Video and composite video, stereo analog audio outputs, and even a coaxial video output–something those with older analog sets will find very happy. Considering the price, this is a good set-top box for those who want to continue to use an older analog set, but have plans to upgrade to an HDTV. Therefore, we can’t complain too much about the lack of an HDMI output, but it is worth noting that there isn’t one included.

The biggest complaint with the Zinwell ZAT-600HD is that it doesn’t set up all that easily. The manual is straightforward, but depending on the HD signals, you might have to set up with the analog connections first and then add the HD component cables. Likewise, the box doesn’t scan for the set’s output, so you have to change the settings manually. Most of the controls need to be tackled from the remote, as the box offers very little in the way of input options. But for the money, this is a good way of getting free over the air Sky HD box content if you don’t already have a tuner with your set or projector.

HDTV Receiver Zinwell ZAT-600HD
Pros: Low cost solution, comes with cables, very small design
Cons: External antenna required, no HDMI output, lackluster menus, won’t scan native resolution of set, clunky setup

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