Digital Stream HD 3150
By Ron Goldberg
Since the inception of the DTV transition, over-the-air (OTA) reception via an antenna and ATSC tuner has been the most immediate way to get HDTV, and in some cases, the only way. With the cable and satellite providers offering more high-def programming each month, HD set-top boxes have become a niche category, but an increasingly important one. The Digital Stream HD 3150 is a simple but powerful DTV tuner that gives excellent bang for the buck.
About the size of typical digital cable TV box, the HD 3150 is an unobtrusive and undemanding addition to the rack. It receives all ATSC formats and passes them through component video out, either in Y, Pb,Pr format or RGB with sync on green. Digital audio passes through either a coaxial or optical connection, and there are analog composite and S-video jacks. Outside of a 75-ohm F-type antenna connection, that's it. Even though this is a source component, the unit is simple enough to be looked at as an accessory.
The on-screen menu system is very friendly and simple to navigate, with clear, legible graphics and a refreshing absence of jargon. Setup was a breeze—two clicks and the unit quickly found all the channels in my reception area. Another click gave me a look at signal strength, and another let me edit my channel list. The unit doesn't pretend to be more than it is by acting like something complicated. Everything you need to do, you can do with minimum effort.
Other picture and sound options, like scaling, languages, menu opacity and the like are similarly intuitive. It's not like you need to make many of these adjustments in the day to day, but if you do, it's not a nightmare to enter the menu, as it is with all too many digital A/V components.