Watching the free over the air TV has become more and more popular, especially considering high Cable TV bills. If you are among the lucky ones and have a TV with already built-in ATSC Tuner, the proper antenna is everything you need to enjoy the free TV fully.
On the other hand, if your TV is missing that part, you will be forced to also find yourself the best digital converter box, or at least one that fulfills most of your needs.
Luckily, this purchase won’t stress your wallet too much, but still, it can prove to be a tricky one, especially if you are not familiar with the subject. For that reason, this guide is made to clear the doubts and help you make a good decision.
How to Choose the Best Digital Converter Box
First of all, digital converter boxes aren’t as complicated as they seem. Yes, they provide the conversion of the digital signal and offer many other functions, but in general, are simple devices, and as soon as you realize what their most important aspects are, you will easily find the one that suits you the best.
Things are pretty simple when it comes to the resolution. If your converter doesn’t support, for instance, Full HD, you won’t be able to watch these channels at all, or you are going to be able to watch them in a lower resolution (the largest resolution supported).
In other words, choose a converter that supports at least the 1080p resolution, which is today’s minimum, or if it is possible, a 4K one.
More outputs mainly mean higher versatility. HDMI and Composite connectors are a kind of a standard and most of today’s TVs are making a connection to a digital converter through them. Although the vast majority of converters have these two, still check that before the purchase.
On the other hand, the best digital converter boxes will have many other outputs such as Coaxial, Component, etc. and as mentioned before, more connectors means more options for you.
Although extra features by themselves aren’t the most important and you can live without them, fact is their presence makes the whole device much more valuable and attractive. For instance, Multimedia Player, Parental Control, or a Digital recorder isn’t essential, but can prove to be very handy and therefore, it is good to think through which of the features might be useful and to choose the converter box in accordance to that.
8 Best Digital Converter Boxes
iView 3300STB Converter Box
Jack of All Trades
Our next pick is the iView 3300STB, an incredibly affordable converter box, which also features recording, a media player, a built-in digital clock, a QAM tuner, analog to digital, plus channel ¾ and HDMI and USB connectivity. So, here’s how it works: if you have an old analog TV and you’re not ready to spend top dollar on expensive gear, the iView 3300STB is going to become your best friend.
This tiny device comes from a brand that is recognized for crafting good quality gear, and this magic box is going to help you convert digital air channels to your analog TV, i.e. you’ll be able to watch a ton of TV channels via the ClearQAM via unencrypted digital cable. There’s no additional subscription required, so you can watch free channels for the lifetime of your TV set.
The iView 3300STB can also be used as a universal media player, as you can connect it via USB to an external hard drive or thumb drive and play music, video and even photo slideshows. This compact box can decode virtually all media file formats and also works as a DVR, which means you can store your favorite TV shows on the connected storage device.
Functionality wise, as long as the signal is good, the picture quality is great, so yeah, for something like twenty bucks give or take, the iView 3300STB is the deal of the century.
- Pretty good image quality
- Amazing value for money
- Works as a DVR and media player
- The remote control is clunky
- Build quality needs improvement
A Basic, but Functional Digital Converter Box
If you are lacking a digital tuner on your TV and need something cheap that will prolong your aging TV’s lifespan, Mediasonic HW130STB digital converter box is the device for you.
Although it doesn’t bring anything spectacular and includes only the basic functions such as Closed Caption, Parental Control, Auto-Tuning and the rather limited DVR, this device is still more than good enough for the majority of users. It offers decent connectivity with one 1080p HDMI output, one Composite connection and a single USB2.0 port that allows you to connect an external drive and combine it with its DVR function for storing your recorded data.
Mediasonic HW130STB delivers good picture quality and overall presents a solid value for the money. Yes, it has its downsides, such as poor remote control sensor and questionable durability; nevertheless, for basic operations, it is a great choice and surely among the best digital converter boxes for the price.
- Good connectivity
- DVR functionality
- Not the best interface
- Longevity issues
eXuby Digital Converter Box for TV (DCB-MCANT-HDMI)
A Cheap Digital Converter Box for Not-Too-Demanding Users
eXuby (DCB-MCANT-HDMI) certainly isn’t the best digital converter box on the market, and it suffers from many downsides, such as the buggy software, not that easy setup, and channel drop downs. On the other hand, it is cheap and mainly presents a nice extension to any multimedia center.
It comes with a lot of features such as the EPG, Parental Control, Auto Signal Tuning, Multimedia player, and many others. There is also a program recording to the external drives with up to 2TB in size and support for various resolutions (1080p, 1080i, 720p and 576p), along with multiple outputs that include HDMI, Component, Coaxial, and Composite connection.
Different from its competition, eXuby (DCB-MCANT-HDMI) package comes with not only a set-top box and a remote, but also various cables and internal antenna, which definitely adds to its overall value.
As previously mentioned, this device has some serious issues. First of all, it has channel drop downs that don’t happen every time but come when you least expect them and kind of ruin the whole experience. In other words, if you can live with that this is a great package for you; otherwise, better go for some other option.
- HDMI cable and an antenna included
- High compatibility
- Signal sometimes drops
- Buggy software
ViewTV AT-263 ATSC Digital TV Converter Box Bundle
A Complete Digital Converter Set at a Fair Price
For everyone searching for the easy solution to their problems with a digital signal conversion, ViewTV AT-263 ATSC Digital TV Converter Box Bundle comes as an ideal device. Lightweight, easy to install and equipped with both a converter box and the indoor antenna with a 25-mile range, this bundle gives you everything you may need to quickly turn your outdated TV into a media center of your house.
Closed Caption, Auto Tuning, PVR Recording (it demands an external USB connected storage device), and Parental Control Function, are just some of these boxes’ many functions. ViewTV AT-263 also comes equipped with a Multimedia Player that supports various file types and formats and presents one of the best players available.
This converter comes with a Component, HDMI, Coaxial and few other outputs and it is a superb multifunctional device (tuner, DVR and a converter) that, considering its price, is without a doubt one of the best digital converter box devices out there.
- Great Media Player
- The indoor antenna is included in the package
- Not that great build quality
A Great Digital Converter for More Advanced Users
The majority of today’s digital converters offer pretty much the same package that includes EPG, Auto Tuning, Multimedia Player, DVR Recording, Closed Caption, etc. and IVIEW-3500STBII is no exception to that. What, on the other hand, separates it from the rest is a support to external storages with up to 3TB in size, as opposed to the common 2TB. In other words, with this converter, you will be able to record 50% more material than with the competition.
This device also comes with a handy signal level indicator that will help you with an easier setup and offers a variety of connectors that include component, coaxial, HDMI and composite output, allowing for great versatility.
IVIEW-3500STBII delivers image quality of the highest level and offers support for numerous resolutions (1080p, 1080i, 720p, and 576p), and on top of that, it is highly affordable.
Overall, if you leave aside its not that friendly interface, which demands more involvement and is more fit to advanced users, this product is great stuff. In other words, if you need the best TV digital converter box at a decent price, you won’t regret this one.
- Supports for storages at up to 3TB in size
- Signal strength indicator
- Not that friendly user interface
Mediasonic HomeWorx HW-150PVR
A Budget-Oriented Converter that Delivers Everything You May Need
In the “flood” of similar type converters, it is pretty hard to separate the ones that offer more than just an attractive price. Fortunately, they can still be spotted, and Mediasonic HomeWorx HW-150PVR is a great example of that type of devices. It has a low price, but also offers numerous handy features such as the real-time and programmed recording (it supports external hard drives with up to 2TB of space and USB flashes with up to 64GB), EPG, Closed Caption, Auto Tuning, Media Player, and much more.
This converter is easy to set up and supports a 1080p resolution. Also, it comes with various outputs (HDMI, Component, Coaxial, etc.) and it has numerous aspect ratios.
Mediasonic HomeWorx HW-150PVR isn’t packed with a ton of sophisticated equipment but still delivers everything that it needs to and it does that flawlessly. All in all, the best digital converter box in the budget class is in front of you.
- Easy setup
- No channel guide
KORAMZI HDTV Digital TV Converter Box CB-107
A Converter that Connects the Future with the Past
KORAMZI CB-107 is a cheap, but solid digital converter, with a nice set of features for its price. This device offers the widest possible compatibility, which is the best shown when the converter is combined with old hardware which can fully benefit from its different video resolutions coverage (from 480p to 1080p) and nice connectivity.
Auto Tuning, PVR Recording, EPG, Closed Caption and many other functions common for this type of devices are also present on the KORAMZI CB-107. Unfortunately, some more advanced features, such as the 4K TV resolution, support aren’t available, but that is not something you would expect from this type of the set-top box anyways.
What presents a much larger issue for this converter is the buggy nature that sometimes causes audio problems or makes the Closed Caption function activate by itself. If there weren’t for this problem, this device would be a perfect choice for the vast number of users. This way, although it is great in many aspects, a shred of doubt remains.
- Easy to install
- It is sometimes buggy
Ematic Digital Converter AT103B
No-Nonsense Digital TV Box
The Ematic Digital Converter AT103B is another great choice if you’re looking for a well-made and good-looking digital TV box. Retailing for less than fifty dollars, this posh-looking gadget will fit any home theater setup, and, just like the iView, comes with a ton of features beside converting digital broadcasts to your old-school analogue TV.
More precisely, AT103B can record TV shows in real-time, or, if one so inclined, it allows you to set timers, so you’ll never miss your favorite shows. Also, you can use it as a universal media player, for watching movies, playing music or view photos from an external source, like a USB drive.
What’s really cool is that you’ll get a time-shift function that allows you to put live TV on hold, a feature that comes handy during the Super Bowl when “nature calls”, so you won’t skip a “beat”, and there’s also a parental control function that enables you to block inappropriate channels.
In regard to functionality and ease of use, this box captures the weakest signal with flying colors, even weak over-the-air ATSC signals, as it has good reception; moreover, the video/audio output quality is pretty good for such an affordable device, with clear and crisp video. While we’re at it, we must mention that the AT103B has 1080p output through HDMI and composite video through CVBS terminals, and supports multiple display aspect ratio, which makes it great for older TV screens.
- Nice design
- Comes with remote control
- Feels durable and strong
- Easy to set up
- Gets laggy at times
Finding the best product for yourself is never easy and this guide was made with that thought in mind, to help you make the best possible choice. If it succeeded in that and helped you make a purchase, or has at least made some things clearer, its mission is complete.