The 4 Best Digital Converter Boxes of 2021

Converting shows and movies to your older TV just got easier

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The Rundown
"For those looking for a strong feature set on a digital converter at a reasonable price, you can’t do any better than this."
"Supports outputs ranging from 480 to 1080p quality and a number of different aspect ratios (4:3 and 16:9)."
"The most feature-packed DVR-capable digital converter box in our lineup."
"The robust list of features and low cost make this digital converter a remarkable value."

The best digital converter boxes elevate your TV viewing experience. These accessories have become a necessity ever since conventional "rabbit ear" antennas were made obsolete. A great quality converter will be able to work with both recorded and live programming in real-time, providing your screen with a clearer picture and more channels.

Our top pick is the Mediasonic HW150PVR Digital Converter Box from Best Buy. This converter has a multitude of features while boasting a reasonable price tag. This box is also versatile, due to it's HDMI port, it can connect to a range of both older and newer television models.

Before reading this article, make sure you require a DTV converter first, but if you're sure you need one, keep reading to find the best digital converter box.

Best Overall: Mediasonic HW150PVR Digital Converter Box

Mediasonic HW150PVR

For those looking for a strong feature set on a digital converter at a reasonable price, you can’t do any better than Mediasonic’s HW150PVR digital converter box. Attaching to any existing antenna on any analog television, the Mediasonic is easy to set up. A built-in recording feature works with both real-time and programmed recording, and while storage isn’t built directly into the unit, the converter box supports both flash and external hard drives. With storage capacity up to 12TB, there’s room for dozens of shows without any monthly fees. The separate storage device can even plug into a computer so you can record programming with any compatible media player.

The Mediasonic has some other great features, too. Parental controls ensure that kids will avoid undesirable channels, closed captioning works with any supported channel, and there’s even the option to connect the converter box to a high-definition television via HDMI. This eliminates the need for a separate cable box while still offering program recording and the electronic program guide for finding your favorite shows.

Best Budget: KORAMZI HDTV Digital Converter Box

KORAMZI HDTV Digital Converter Box

If you have a combination of old and new devices (as many of us do), you’ll want a converter box with wide compatibility and connection options. The KORAMZI HDTV digital converter box supports outputs ranging from 480 to 1080p quality and several different aspect ratios (4:3 and 16:9). A built-in HDMI connection allows users to send the signal from the unit to a multitude of display types. In other words, this unit isn’t limited to just analog televisions — it can also connect to computer monitors and still offer its full feature set.

Speaking of features, the KORAMZI offers a solid set of function for its budget price. There are settings for parental controls and closed captioning, as well as a program guide so you can see what’s playing and what’s coming up next. If you find a future program you want to watch, you can use the KORAMZI to set a scheduled recording.  

Runner-Up, Best DVR: ViewTV AT-163 ATSC Digital TV Converter Box

ViewTV AT-163 ATSC Digital TV Converter Box and Media Player

The ViewTV AT-163 digital converter box allows you to watch TV on any television, including your old clunky analog TVs. The built-in USB port allows you to record your favorite programs directly to a flash drive or external hard drive. It is the most feature-packed DVR-capable digital converter box in our lineup; you can pause, fast-forward and rewind live TV with the Timeshift function, perform PVR (Personal Video Recording) and easily view videos and pictures from a flash drive or external hard drive.

It is also noteworthy for its ability to play a wide range of different file formats, including MKV, VOB, FLV and MOV files. Output is a crisp 1080p via HDMI, and there are the usual legacy outputs for older TVs. Consider the ViewTV AT-163 a good option if you have external movies you want to play via your digital converter box, or if you plan to often use DVR functions.

Best Value: Mediasonic HW130STB

The Mediasonic HW130STB is a cost-effective solution to provide digital signal conversion to your TV over RCA or HDMI connections. Just like the rest of the entries on our list, this box converts over-the-air (OTA) signals to an analog or digital signal that can be displayed on your TV, projector, or monitor. A big selling point for this inexpensive adapter is its front-facing USB port which allows you to connect up to 2TB of external storage for recording live TV and converting it into an avi, mpg, or mkv file.

Besides integrated recording capability the HW130STB also features RF signal passthrough, a favorite channel list, support for Dolby Digital audio, and a parental control function. The robust list of features and low cost make this digital converter a remarkable value.

Final Verdict

If you're in need of a solid digital converter box, our top choice is the Mediasonic HW150PVR. However, if money is tight, the KORAMZI HDTV Digital Converter Box makes for an excellent stopgap solution.

FAQs

What is a digital converter box?
A digital converter box, or a cable converter box, is an electronic tuning device. It converts a channel on a cable TV from a digital to an analog signal on a single channel. Put simply, this allows a TV to receive cable channels, at least this was the case for older TV models. Most modern TVs aren't analog and have a converter built-in.

Do I need a digital converter box for my TV?
Unless you have an old analog TV, you likely don't need a digital converter box. Analog TVs are no longer in production and analog TV transmission ended in 2009 in the US. However, if you want to watch HD TV on your analog TV, then you will need a converter box.

How to program a digital converter box without a remote?
If you have a digital converter box but have lost the remote, you can still reset it. All you need to do is unplug the converter box, switch off the TV, and keep it unplugged for at least 30 seconds. The converter box will reset itself after it has been unplugged when you next reconnect it. The process will likely take several minutes.

What to Look for in a Digital Converter Box

HDMI vs. analog - If your television has an HDMI input, then you should choose a digital converter box that has an HDMI output. This will allow you to experience the highest possible picture quality. If you have an older television that only has a coaxial input or RCA jacks, then look for a digital converter box that has those types of outputs.

Resolution - Digital television is broadcast in high definition, but not all televisions are capable of taking advantage of that. If you have a television that can display resolutions like 1080p or 720p, then you should choose a converter box that supports high definition. If you have an older standard definition television, then you can get by with a 480p digital converter box.

Analog pass-through - If you have any low-power television stations or translators in your area that still broadcast analog signals, you’ll need a digital converter box that includes an analog pass-through. Without this feature, you won’t be able to watch any station that hasn’t fully switched over to digital broadcasts.

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