Best Digital Converter Boxes

Review & Comparison, Last Update December 12, 2018
Digital converter boxes will give a new life to your favorite old TVs. These devices ensure high-quality sound and image. A weak broadcasting signal won't get on your nerves anymore. Just consider these low-price models with rich functionality. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2018
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
BROADCASTING SUPPORT
RESOLUTION
FEATURES
INTERFACES
FORMATS AND CODING SUPPORT
WARRANTY
 
PROS

The TV recording function lets you record TV programs to a USB drive and playback the footage on your ol' trusty TV or any other device with a USB interface. If a remote is not available, you can use the front panel to change the volume or switch between channels. 

CONS

The remote has to be directly pointed towards the device to work. 

OUR VERDICT

The Leelbox 4336302892 is as good as the next digital converter box. It isn't devoid of any of the usual functions. It is really good at picking up the signal regardless of the landscape. Plus, it incorporates a sleep timer and an equally convenient and effective 7-day EPG function.

detailed parameters
BROADCASTING SUPPORT

ATSC Analog Pass-Through

RESOLUTION

1080p

FEATURES

USB Multimedia Player, Recording Function, Favorite Channel List, Parental Control, Auto Tuning

INTERFACES

USB, HDMI, Ant In / Out, Composite Video, Composite L/R Audio, Coaxial in

FORMATS AND CODING SUPPORT

MPEG-2/4, H.264/AVC, AVI, MPG, DAT, VOB, MKV, MJPEG, MP3, AAC, MP4, JPEG, BMP, PNG

WARRANTY

18 months

PROS
Simple setting and software update. Clear info on the current and next shows on a screen will help switch channels.
CONS
The USB port is at the back.
OUR VERDICT
This excellent digital tuner will provide you with a high- quality TV signal. It's also possible to program a certain time interval for recording. It can be stopped and rewound in a Timeshift mode.
detailed parameters
BROADCASTING SUPPORT
ATSC Analog Pass-Through
RESOLUTION
1080p
FEATURES
USB, Multimedia Player, Recording Function, Favorite Channel List, Parental Control, Auto Tuning, Closed Caption
INTERFACES

USB, HDMI, Ant In / Out (with ch3/ch4 switch), Composite Video, Composite L/R Audio

FORMATS AND CODING SUPPORT

MPEG-2/4, H.264/AVC, AVI, MPG, DAT, VOB, MKV, MJPEG, MP3, AAC, MP4, JPEG, BMP, PNG

WARRANTY

1 year limited

PROS

The model will let you pause live TV. A closed-captioning function transcribes every sound, including even falling objects and onomatopoeias, a great feature for people with varying degrees of hearing impairment.

CONS

The DC-in is placed on the side, which is a little inconvenient. 

OUR VERDICT

For its price, the 1byone 212NA-0001 is everything a digital converter box is supposed to be and then some for good measure. It will allow you to enjoy all of the advantages of digital entertainment with your old analog TV.

detailed parameters
BROADCASTING SUPPORT

ATSC Analog Pass-Through

RESOLUTION

1080p

FEATURES

USB Multimedia Player, Recording Function, Live TV Pause function, Favorite Channel List, Parental Control, Auto Tuning, Closed Caption

INTERFACES

USB, HDMI, Ant In / Out, Composite Video, Composite L/R Audio

FORMATS AND CODING SUPPORT

MPEG-2/4, H.264/AVC, AVI, MPG, DAT, VOB, MKV, MJPEG, MP3, AAC, MP4, JPEG, BMP, PNG

WARRANTY

1 year

PROS
A signal level indicator will help select an optimal antenna position. Interlaced and progressive TV scanning is supported.
CONS
There is only 24-hour time format in it.
OUR VERDICT
A good tuner that supports portable drives of up to 3TB. Apart from the wide functionality, it will allow you to watch uncoded cable channels free of charge.
detailed parameters
BROADCASTING SUPPORT
ATSC / QAM Analog Pass-Through
RESOLUTION
1080p / 1080i
FEATURES
EPG Guide, USB, Multimedia Player, Recording Function, Signal Quality Indicator, Parental Control, Favorite Channel List
INTERFACES

USB, HDMI, Ant In / Out, Composite Video, Component Video, Composite/Component L/R Audio, Coaxial in

FORMATS AND CODING SUPPORT

MPEG-2/4, H.264/AVC, AVI, MPG, DAT, VOB, MKV, MJPEG, MP3, AAC, MP4, JPEG, BMP, PNG

WARRANTY

2 years

PROS
The enclosed remote control can be used to control your TV set as well. The receiver can be set in an upright position thanks to a special retractable stand.
CONS
A minimum set of additional features.
OUR VERDICT
A low-cost receiver with a rather limited number of additional features that still performs its direct function pretty well - steady signal transmission to the TV set.
detailed parameters
BROADCASTING SUPPORT
ATSC / NTSC Analog Pass-Through
RESOLUTION
720p
FEATURES
EPG Guide, Parental Control
INTERFACES

Ant In / Out (with ch3/ch4 switch), Composite Video, Composite L/R Audio

FORMATS AND CODING SUPPORT
MPEG-2, H.264
WARRANTY

1 year limited

Leelbox 4336302892

A Bit More Than a Converter Box

The Leelbox 4336302892 (really rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?) is a digital converter box. That said, it would be very reductive to describe this device as nothing less than the said type of box. Sure, its main function is to pick up a digital signal and transform it into an analog one so that you're able to watch your favorite channels on an old TV. And it does so as well as the next converter.

Of course, keep in mind that, just like any other converter, it can only be used for receiving the OTA (over the air) signal. It cannot replace a cable box. The converter has to be connected to an external antenna in order to receive a signal.

So, tossing that aside now, why would it be reductive to refer to this device as a digital converter box? Well, because it can offer so much more than that. Most of these things do that but the model in question takes it up a slight notch.

For one, it supports teletext, subtitles, and multi-language footage. With the help of these functions, you'll be able to enjoy foreign films, television series, and anime shows in their native language.

As per usual, the device comes equipped with parental control functions. You can use it to restrict your kids' access to certain channels or any specific type of content.

Review of Leelbox 4336302892 Digital Converter Box for Analog TV (1080p)

Effective 7-Day EPG

Of course, most functions here do not differ that much from the competition. The TV recording function works the same way it does in any other converter box: it lets you record TV programs to a USB drive and playback the footage on your ol' trusty TV or any other device with a USB interface.

For the most part, the device is as much a converter box as it is a media player. Thanks to the aforementioned USB interface, aside from the recorded TV programs, you'll be able to use the device to view photos, listen to music, and watch movies.

The model supports just about every major format, including MPEG-2/4, H.264/AVC, AVI, MPG, DAT, VOB, MKV, MJPEG, MP3, AAC, MP4, JPEG, BMP, and PNG, so you'll have no shortage of movies, music, and photos to choose from. It doesn't support the lossless FLAC format but these things never do.

Other than that, there isn't that much to talk about here. We really like the minimalistic design of the unit. Aside from the compact profile, if a remote is not available, you can use the front panel to change the volume or switch between channels. Speaking of which, the model isn't devoid of the usual "Favorite Channel List" function, so you could always just browse strictly between the channels you enjoy the most.

Bottom line, the Leelbox 4336302892 is arguably one of the best digital converter boxes on the market right now. It isn't devoid of any of the usual functions. It is really good at picking up the signal regardless of the landscape. Plus, it incorporates a sleep timer and an equally convenient and effective 7-day EPG function.

Leelbox 4336302892 Digital Converter Box for Analog TV (1080p) in the use

 

Mediasonic HW180STB

Ample Recording Capacity

Considering the digital Mediasonic Homeworx HW180STB converter we couldn't but pay attention to its ample capacities to record universal TV broadcasting on portable hard drives. The USB connector used for this is located at the back of the device. There are several interesting features this converter box can boast. Firstly, this tuner enables you to set the exact time for the recording start and end. The tuner will ensure automatic recording within the indicated time interval saving it on the external hard drive. Secondly, we would like to mention the Timeshift feature. Having activated this function you'll be able to pause the live broadcasting and afterwards you'll have an opportunity to come back to the same spot of viewing. In addition this feature will enable you to rewind the viewing forward and backward. Timeshift works based on background recording, which can be carried out continuously or after activation. You should keep in mind, that the longer this feature is activated, the more memory is needed on the drive where the recording is saved. This model supports external hard drives with a saving capacity of up to 2TB. If you need a signal for high-quality conversion of the digital signal into analog with ample opportunities of live transmission saving, then our team will definitely recommend you the Mediasonic Homeworx HW180STB converter.

Review of Mediasonic HW180STB Homeworx Digital Converter Box

Interesting Facts

It's interesting that the world's first preview trailer cost just some nine dollars. This happened on July 1, 1941, when for the first time a ten-second preview trailer was broadcast on all the TV channels in the USA. It advertised a watch manufacturing company "Bulova Watch Company". It's noteworthy that its budget of $9 included not only video broadcasting cost, but its production as well. Yet the most famous preview trailer is considered to be the "1984", dedicated to the Macintosh computer. By order of the Apple, the famous film director Ridley Scott filmed a trailer only 90 seconds long. It's stunning that this short trailer cost 900,000 dollars. One more interesting fact from the history of television is that the person who can boast of the most expensive TV contract is a famous TV presenter Oprah Winfrey. During her contract period from 1984 to 2000 the Harpo company agreed to pay her about 300 million dollars. Nowadays this very presenter has a private film studio and a TV channel, which has an acronym of her initials: OWN.  

Mediasonic HW180STB Homeworx Digital Converter Box in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
Mediasonic HW180STB July 21, 2015

What customers say about this product

Size & Weight

This is a very nice lighted paper weight.

Features

It has parental guidance features so that your kids don't watch something they're not supposed to.

Accessories

The buttons on the remote have different functions depending on what mode you're in, but since the options are shown on the screen whenever they differ from the buttons' usual functions, it becomes second nature surprisingly fast.
 

1byone 212NA-0001

A Move in the Digital Direction

There are quite a few advantages that digital television has over its analog counterpart. For one, if you have the right hardware, you can pause live TV. Speaking of the right hardware, let's talk about 1byone 212NA-0001, a digital converter box.

Aside from the aforementioned function, there is a solid number of interesting features that allow the model to rival its more expensive competition and even stand out from that expensive crowd.

A good example of that is the closed-captioning function. Sure, it's nothing we haven't seen before, but the majority of converter boxes either do not include this feature whatsoever or only support subtitles. And, unlike subtitles that only gives you a textual interpretation of spoken words, CC transcribes every sound, including even falling objects and onomatopoeias.

For most people, it's nothing short of a nuisance but this little discrepancy can make a huge difference for people with varying degrees of hearing impairment.

Like most decent digital converter boxes, the model also comes equipped with a DVR function and can serve you as a multimedia player. The USB interface on the front panel of the device will let you insert a USB drive (shocker, we know).

Onto that drive, you'll be able to record your favorite shows for later viewing. As it is the case with any modern-day multimedia player, the device will also let you play music, view images, and watch movies from the USB stick.

Review of 1byone 212NA-0001 Digital Converter Box for Analog TV (1080p)

Minimalistic Profile

For the most part, the visual aspect of a converter box is mostly irrelevant, let's be honest here. That said, we still feel like quickly walking through its design.

For starters, the whole thing adds up to 3.9 x 1.2 x 4.9 inches in overall dimensions, which is pretty low even by these boxes' standards. It also weighs 4.6 ounces, another surprisingly low value. Doesn't make that much of a difference as you probably won't be carrying it around but it is a nice touch regardless.

Speaking of which, the glossy front with a matte top is nothing if not a nice touch. The latter part isn't as easily soiled as the former but the former does give the whole thing a rather sleek appearance, making for a nice combination of textures.

Aside from its compact profile, there isn't that much that separates this model from the rest of them. You can create a list of your favorite channels. The parental control function will help you protect your kids from potentially harmful content. The program guides are solid and thorough and the auto-tuning is as accurate as it could be.

In conclusion, for its price, the 1byone 212NA-0001 is everything a digital converter box ought to be and then some for good measure. It will allow you to enjoy all of the advantages of digital entertainment with your old analog TV, essentially turning it into a smart TV.

1byone 212NA-0001 Digital Converter Box for Analog TV (1080p) in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

IVIEW 3500STBII Multi-Function

Maximum Quality, Signal, and Recording Capacity

The iView 3500STBII has quite a peculiar feature many may find interesting - a signal level indicator. This indicator enables you to monitor signal quality coming from the connected antenna, and that, in its turn, allows you to determine precisely its optimal position to achieve the best-quality signal. As for the image quality, it is at a high level. This digital converter will let you watch your favorite TV channels in a selection of resolutions: 1080p, 1080i, 720p, and 576p. It's very important to keep in mind that the tuner is able to receive both interlaced and progressive scanning methods. We couldn't but note one more advantage this digital converter box has over its competitors, namely portable drives support with the saving capacity of up to 3TB, whereas the majority of tuners support drives of up to 2TB only. This feature will let you record your favorite TV shows in great numbers. Summarizing, we can say that this model is ideal for those who want to enjoy watching their favorite channels in high quality with an unlimited possibility to record them with the maximum quality signal.    

Review of IVIEW 3500STBII Multi-Function Digital Converter Box

Interesting Facts

Did you know that the first American TV channel, which started round-the-clock broadcasting was the globally known CNN? Interestingly, in the USA the channel was nicknamed "Chicken Noodle Network". It's worth noting, that in the USA, CNN company is the largest one. Its audience is approximately one billion people. It's also interesting that among all the mass media CNN was one of the first companies that started digital broadcasting. Nowadays, this mass media giant broadcasts on six continents in four languages: English, Turkish, Spanish, and German. Among other interesting facts about television, we should mention that thanks to the UN Assembly we have an opportunity to celebrate the World Television Day on November 21st since 1996.

IVIEW 3500STBII Multi-Function Digital Converter Box in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
iView-3500STBII Digital Converter Box Product Review

What customers say about this product

Size & Weight

I like the size of the iview, which makes it an excellent choice for a small space.

Accessories

The only real upgrade is a much improved remote control.

Features

For the price, not only will it convert and record ATSC signals, but it also provides an HDMI and component output with excellent picture quality.
 

RCA DTA-800B1

Usability Champion

While comparing all 5 tuners in our review, we couldn't but notice the RCA DTA-800B1. You'd ask, how it can be unique and interesting, it's one of the cheapest of the kind? To be honest, we were surprised, too, after we've seen it perform. The key feature of this model is its perfect usability, which in comparison to the competitors is at the highest level. The first factor that affects it is the option to set the tuner either horizontally or vertically. There are not so many converter box models that can boast vertical placement, let alone both. The manufacturer provided RCA DTA-800B1 with a special stand to use the tuner vertically, which ensures a steady position of the device on the surface. Thus you can save space near the TV set, which is very usable. We also noted a very intelligible and simple remote control here. Its main feature is large buttons located very conveniently. This remote control is comfortable even for elderly people. But that's not all. This remote control can be programmed to control not only the tuner but your TV set as well. Highly convenient and practical. Summarizing we can affirm with certainty - this model is the absolute champion in terms of its usability.

Review of RCA DTA-800B1 Digital Converter Box

Interesting Fact

It's quite difficult to surprise anybody with digital television today. But few people know how the process of transition from analog to digital broadcasting advanced. The turning point in this history was the decision taken on February 17, 2009, by the US Congress about the termination of analog broadcasting by all the TV stations. The very transition process required conversion of about 1800 high-power transmitting centers. Among them, there were 380 public and 1378 private ones. It's noteworthy that many cable operators continued to broadcast in analog format additionally, that still allowed the users of analog television to watch their favorite channels without any tuners. At the same time, e-stores were forbidden to sell TVs without digital tuners. So many electronics manufacturers started mass production of various TV tuners, which converted a digital signal into an analog one to let people watch their old TVs. All the while NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) tested and selected the best and at the same time inexpensive tuner models, that cost $40-70 afterward compensated by the state. For the television reform, the government allocated about 1.5 bln Dollars. It's interesting, people got special $40 coupons, 1-2 per each family, to purchase these very tuners. Many sellers had to be certified for participation in the program. At the present moment, the US government stopped issuing coupons.  

RCA DTA-800B1 Digital Converter Box in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
RCA DTA800 demo (Los Angeles, CA)

What customers say about this product

Size & Weight

I'm pretty impressed by this little machine. It was very easy and quick to set up.

Accessories

The remote is easy to operate (very few buttons) and so far we have not had any problems with this unit.

Features

This converter box is easy to connect to a pre-2007 television, using either the "RF" connection or the "composite video" connection.
 

What Is a Digital Converter Box?

After transitioning from analog to digital broadcasting, many users have faced a problem: a great number of channels they used to watch were not supported in old TV sets. They just had no capacity to receive such a signal. As a rule, most modern TV sets are already equipped with special tuners. But the old television sets don't have those and, as you'd imagine, simply buying a new display isn't always an option. Fortunately, you can solve this problem by purchasing a digital converter box. A device like that receives a digital signal that is further converted into an analog one. This way, you are able to enjoy the newest broadcasting signal, all while still using your old trusty TV set.

For those who wish to expand the functionality of their TV sets significantly and make it really smart, we suggest considering a streaming media player. But to improve the received signal you'll also need a high-quality TV antenna.

What Features to Compare

Broadcasting Support

When selecting a digital converter it's necessary to decide on the broadcasting support you will need. As we know, a digital converter serves for decoding an ATSC digital signal into an NTSC analog one. But if you still want to receive an analog signal coming from local low-power broadcasters that don't intend to transit to a digital format, you should check if there is an Analog Pass-Through feature. Thanks to this feature, the analog signal will pass directly to the TV set. If you also want to watch digital cable channels, you'll need to make sure you have a tuner in a QAM standard. It's worth noting that in this case, you will be able to watch uncoded channels only.

Image Resolution

It's very important to take into consideration the broadcasted image resolution, as it affects the quality and at the same time compatibility with a TV screen. If your TV set has a standard SDTV screen, no need to overpay for the tuner supporting HDTV video signal reception. For example, if your TV screen is 1080p, pay attention to the tuner, which should support the same HDTV (High Definition) standard. Older TV models can have 720p and 480p resolution, so tuners with EDTV (Enhanced Definition) and SDTV (Standard Definition) formats support respectively will be needed.

Tuner Features

While speaking about the tuner features, we normally mean additional functions like a built-in USB multimedia player, which allows you to play back digital content from flash drives and portable hard disks. The recording enables you to save video live to the same external memory. The next function is the creation of your favorite channels list for a quick access. The closed caption function helps display it if necessary. Other essential functions are parental control, auto-tuning, sleep mode, and the capacity to switch the device on and off at a certain time.

Interfaces and Multimedia Processing

And in conclusion, you should check the tuner connection to the TV set. It's recommended to use an HDMI connector to achieve the highest quality. If your TV doesn't have it, make sure you have analog composite audio/video ports. As for the connection with external memory, a USB connector is required, and for the antenna — an RF port. The USB multimedia player and digital signal compression standards support plays a great role as well. It's better to give preference to the tuners supporting AVI, DAT, VOB, MKV, MJPEG video, for the music it should be MP3, AAC, MP4, and for images: JPEG, BMP, PNG. In modern tuners MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 video compression technologies are generally used, therefore such devices are usually called digital television decoders.

Sources:

1. Guide to Converter Boxes, eBay. March 3, 2016.

2. Robert Silva GE Smart Digital Converter Box For Analog Televisions, Lifewire. October 18, 2016.

3. Matthew Torres What You Need To Know Before Buying a DTV Converter BoxAbout. August 11, 2016. 

4. Steve Kindig  The Digital TV Transition, Crutchfield

5. Mike Johnson How Do I Choose a Digital TV Converter? Tech in our everyday life.

6. Digital TV Converter Box Tips? HubPages. February 12, 2015.

7. Jessica Hatter How to Reset a Digital Converter Box, Techwalla.

8. HDTV or Converter Box? Antennas Direct. January 17, 2015.

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