While plenty of people are moving to razor thin HDTVs, not everyone has that luxury. But if you have an older TV and want to get it up to date with the best and latest programming, there’s a less expensive option than buying a brand new TV. A digital converter box can take the newer digital signals broadcast by cable and local television stations and convert them into a format that a standard definition TV can process.
Of course, the need for digital converter boxes is becoming smaller, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t customers in need. For you, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to the 10 best digital converter box models of 2020. We’ll point you to the best models on the market and help you better understand this technology.
- 10 Best Digital Converter Boxes
- 1. Mediasonic HW-150PVR ATSC Digital Converter Box
- 2. ViewTV AT-263 ATSC Digital Converter Box
- 3. IVIEW-3500STBII, Digital Converter Box
- 4. KORAMZI HDTV Digital TV Converter Box
- 5. Sindave Digital TV Converter Box
- 6. RCA DTA-800B1 Analog TV Box
- 7. eXuby Digital Converter Box
- 8. Leelbox Converter Box
- 9. Ematic Digital TV Converter Box
- 10. Five Star ATSC HD Digital TV Converter Box
- Digital Converter Box Buyer’s Guide
10 Best Digital Converter Boxes
1. Mediasonic HW-150PVR ATSC Digital Converter Box
Tight on Price and Functionality
If you want to be successful with a digital converter box in this market, you need to be creative. Fortunately, that's a necessity that Mediasonic fully understands. Their HW-150PVR is an all in one device that offers recording, a TV tuner, and a full built in media player for watching your favorite programming. As far as all in one media devices go, this is one of your best choices short of a streaming stick.
Best of all is the price. The traditional retail point for this digital converter box is around forty bucks. If you want to get a whole lot of functionality without spending much, you'll get it here. It even comes with a full electronic program guide to help you keep track of and record all of your favorite TV shows and movies.
2. ViewTV AT-263 ATSC Digital Converter Box
Simple Plug and Play Design
Want to save your favorite TV shows and movies to watch again and again? ViewTV makes that easy. All you have to do is plug a flash drive in place to turn your digital TV converter into a home media center with plenty of storage space. Around the board, the features and specs here are pretty standard but also thorough. You'll get parental control settings, an interactive programming schedule, and the ability to save your favorite channels.
Getting this digital converter box up and running is as simple as plugging in the power cord to the wall and the coaxial cable to your TV. The USB port is well positioned for easy access, and you can get a feel for the streamlined remote control in just a few minutes also.
3. IVIEW-3500STBII, Digital Converter Box
Comprehensive Programming Options
The first time you look at the remote control to the IVIEW 3500STBII, you'll find it intimidating. But over time you'll come to recognize the vast amount of resources available to you. Because while this converter box is pretty basic at its core, it really makes the most of the recording functions available to it.
The specs here are right on base too. While there's no built in storage, the USB drive can support drives with a capacity of up to 2 terabytes. That's a lot of video to work with, but the sleekly designed media player app that's built right in can keep everything neatly organized and readily available to you. And the wide variety of different connectivity options means that even older legacy devices can connect easily to your larger home TV setup.
4. KORAMZI HDTV Digital TV Converter Box
Easy to Understand Design
Need a digital converter that can adapt all of your video devices to the 21st century? The CB-107 by Koramzi has some of the best compatibility around, and while it's not exactly rich in luxury features, it is reasonably priced and a great hub for all of your older electronics. In addition to the traditional HDMI connection, there's also basic coaxial inputs and outputs as well as traditional AV ports for older TVs and devices.
As far as features, the choices here are solid if pretty universally baseline. That includes an auto tuning function as well as live recording. It may be simple, but this digital converter gets the job done, and it's one of the best choices for older customers who haven't caught up with the latest trends and want to do so without much technical knowledge. The only thing difficult to figure out here is what all the remote control buttons do.
5. Sindave Digital TV Converter Box
Boost Weaker TV Signals
Users looking to pick up local television channels don't always have an easy time of it, but the external antenna added to Sindave's digital TV converter box really helps the signal get where it needs to be even in more remote locations. And the inclusion of an HDMI output and cable means that you can even connect it to more modern TVs and pair streaming 4K content with all of the free and existing programming on the air.
And if you want to just save some programming to watch later, this digital converter box can help with that too. It can record programming in the background or live while you're already watching TV, so you won't have to make concessions for the sake of building your video library. The storage capacity here may be a bit limited, but a one terabyte hard drive can still store a lot of TV.
6. RCA DTA-800B1 Analog TV Box
Steady and Dependable Live TV Broadcast
We're pretty confident that the primary market for digital converter boxes skews older. The RCA DTA-800B1 is a digital converter box that's easily accessible to less tech savvy customers while still offering the full range of features that you could hope for in a digital converter box. Best of all, it offers some of the clearest, crispest, and most vivid video reproduction that we've found in a digital converter box.
And it's incredibly easy to understand too. All the key functions you'd want to reach from the box itself have been positioned with big and easy to read buttons, and the remote control is similarly intuitive and stripped down in its design. Scanning with this digital converter box is easy, and they've even put some smart systems in place so you won't have to rescan your entire band of channels just because there are some new ones you want to add.
7. eXuby Digital Converter Box
The truth is that digital converter devices aren't that complex of electronics, so you're better off looking for a digital converter box that you can install and then rely on to work. eXuby provides some of the best and most durable performance around for a price tag of under $50, and the included and detachable antenna can expand the coverage area of this digital converter box to a full range of 35 miles. The storage capacity is a lot more expansive than competing digital converter boxes too, leaving your with an impressive digital converter box perfect for doubling as a media server.
8. Leelbox Converter Box
You won't find a better price than that offered by Leelbox. Their converter retails for less than $30 and includes enough features to make it the anchor device for a lot of homes. External hard drive support gives you backup storage for all of your recordings, but it also includes a media player that you can use to play videos and music that you already have stored onto your connected hard drive.
Multiple formats are included, so there's little need to worry about your video not working. The scheduling and recording options here are very robust. And while standard definition doesn't represent the bleeding edge of video technology, it also comes with Dolby Audio for immersive soundscapes.
9. Ematic Digital TV Converter Box
The parental control settings are just the tip of the iceberg on a converter box that's refreshingly robust. But those parental controls are very clever in their own right - letting you set up rules for what channels are blocked and automatically making use of parental guidance ratings to figure out when a password needs to be applied.
But even cooler is the time shift feature. While many of these devices don't even allow you to record and watch TV a t the same time, this box includes a timeshift function. That means you'll never be at the mercy of live TV again.
10. Five Star ATSC HD Digital TV Converter Box
Plugging in the Five Star box is like traveling back in time to the days before streaming, and that's not such a bad thing. In addition to offering full coverage of all of your favorite local stations, this device comes with an electronic programming device guide that lets you not just see what's on TV but also meticulously plan out your recording schedule in advance.
And since it offers a flat antenna, the signal here is very strong. It may seem a bit awkward in photo reference, but that extended range really earns this model accolades for overall performance.
Digital Converter Box Buyer’s Guide
Fundamentally, the best digital converter box isn’t going to be that different from middle of the road digital converter boxes. The best digital converter boxes may come with a higher maximum storage capacity and some other bells and whistles, but the distinctions between the best digital converter boxes and a standard digital box for TV are pretty razor thin. If you want to find the best digital converter boxes, we’ll provide you with a brief summary of what you can expect and also fill you in on the key specs and features.
If you’re looking for your favorite channel, the worst and best digital converter boxes are going to provide it to you. Your favorite channel, among others, will be included with your local coverage, just as long as it uses the ATSC digital format. The ATSC digital format is the standard used in the United States, and you’d be hard pressed to find a favorite channel that isn’t encoded in that way. But if you’re shopping for the top DTV box elsewhere, you should keep an eye out, as other regions also have their own formats, and certain analog television converters won’t work in different regions.
Fortunately, most ATSC digital converter boxes will be clearly labeled as such. That means that when looking at a tuner, you can focus more attention on the features and less on specs surrounding the tuner. A clearer and more stable signal will make it easier to find your favorite channel, but the inclusion of an antenna can also help make sure that your favorite channel isn’t distorted. A variety of settings like parental controls, the analog TV guide, and advanced captioning help you distinguish one converter box from another.
The capacity for recording video isn’t going to be available in every converter box, but recording is easily one of the more asked about features. And since these boxes are pretty affordably priced across the board, you also don’t have to pay a premium just for the ability to record video. Just keep in mind that you’ll also have to buy a separate device for recording storage.
A USB flash drive or proper external hard drive can quickly and cheaply resolve the problem, but not every USB flash drive or external hard drive will work with every box. Most have a maximum storage capacity for the external hard drive. In most cases, that still gives you at least a couple of terabytes for video storage. Also, look at whether or not boxes support recording and viewing at the same time or whether you’ll need to be a little more calculated with your TV schedule.
If you’re looking for a new ATSC digital recorder box, there’s a near certain chance that at least one HDMI port will be included. That’s because while these digital converter boxes can’t translate local programming in full high definition, they can provide pass-through, meaning that you can seamlessly watch both HD and standard definition video without having to change out cords or anything.
But if you have legacy devices, you should look for boxes with a somewhat more generous variety of ports. There aren’t a whole lot of options here to choose from, but AV connectors are a common choice for inclusion, and they’re one of the most effective ways to ensure that older standard definition TVs can still connect regardless of whether or not they predate the development of HDMI as a standard.
Since digital converter boxes don’t traditionally come with an internal hard drive, having access to at least one USB port is going to be incredibly useful. That’s because you can simply plug in a hard drive or a flash drive to get the results you want. The first thing you should pay attention to here is how large of storage capacity your box can support.
The second most important consideration here is how it’s positioned. Awkwardly situated USB ports will make it much harder to switch your storage drive in and out. In the grand scheme of things, the positioning of a port likely won’t make that much of a difference, but it’s one of the few distinguishing factors between so many of the models on the market today.
All of these converter boxes are going to be pretty compact in size, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not some distinction between the dimensions. Consider the space that you have available to you and the practical considerations before making a purchase. The dimensions might not be all that different from one model to another, but a smart form factor and more lightweight design can be a boon as you start to build your home theater out with a range of other components.
Whether you’re trying to expand the channels available to you cheaply or you just aren’t ready to jump on the high definition bandwagon, a converter offers an incredibly easy solution. With their largely comparable specs, low asking prices, and plug and play designs, you can easily get one of these devices up and running in just a matter of minutes.
But you should ask yourself why you aren’t ready to make the upgrade to HD yet. If you decide you want something more substantial, we invite you to check out our guide to 2020’s best 4K TVs.If you liked our article on digital converter boxes, please share and comment below what your favorite product is.