ATSC 3 Update – The Arduous Zinwell Box Update Process

Navigating the arduous update process of the Zinwell ATSC 3.0 tuner shows just how much complexity ATSC 3 DRM’s requirements have brought to free over the air television. I run through the update in my latest video.

As I referenced in my initial review, the update process is anything but simple. The instruction to press a specific settings key, when the remote itself houses two, sets the stage for a complex journey. The update requires navigating deep inside the otherwise hidden Android interface to initiate a sideloading of the updater app followed by the update itself.

This complexity is magnified when considering their target market are users who are not technologically savvy. This also further erodes the marketing promise that this device does not require an Internet connection to operate. Unfortunately frequent changes to the ATSC 3.0 DRM will require frequent firmware updates to keep the television channels working.

Despite the complexity, the update introduced some notable improvements, such as an up-to-date Android security patch level and a new signal strength indicator. However, these improvements are somewhat overshadowed by the convoluted process required to install them.

The introduction of a slightly simplified update process through its TV tuner app marks a step in the right direction, albeit a small one. The tuner app will drop users off on the same updater apps they currently have to load manually. It does not appear future updates will happen automatically and it’s not clear what the update process will look like in the future.

The complexity and frequent updates required by devices like the Zinwell ATSC 3.0 Box just to maintain compatibility with unnecessary encryption serve as a reminder of the challenges that consumers will face when it comes to tuning free TV in the near future.

If you haven’t already, please reach out to the FCC and register your complaint. They seem very eager to extend their regulatory powers to the Internet, but are showing less of a desire to exercise their existing regulatory authority of the public airwaves.