The 7 Best Digital Converter Boxes to Buy in 2018

Converting shows and movies to your older TV just got easier

Digital converter boxes are tremendously important products for analog TV and VCR owners. It's true that digital TV is here to stay, but that doesn't mean analog TVs need to be replaced. Digital converter boxes offer several benefits, including higher picture quality and sound. They also provide a higher number of channel choices, and often additional features such as on-screen programming, favorite channel listings, auto power settings, built-in media players, real-time and programmed time recording. To help you decide which digital converter box best meets your needs, read our list below of the top ones available.

Best Overall: ViewTV AT-263 ATSC Digital TV Converter Box

Similar to the AT-163, the ViewTV AT-263 ATSC Digital TV Converter Box is the latest in ViewTV’s line of free TV solutions. This box allows you record TV via a flash drive or external drive connected to the unit’s USB port, includes an emergency alert system to alert viewers to any emergency information broadcast by TV stations in their area, and even has a built-in multimedia player (and it's one of the strongest available today). The ViewTV can play just about any type of file you throw at it, from VOBs ripped from DVDs to modern high-bitrate MKVs.

Features include cable loop through, electronic programming guide and program information, the ability to pause live TV, a favorite channel list, parental control function, auto-tuning, closed captioning, real-time and scheduled recording, as well as auto startup and shut down. Menus are more intuitive than the AT-163, so it makes for a better option if you plan to use the device often to play media files from your external drives, and a smaller form factor make the $5 extra in price worth it for most consumers.

Best for DVR Support: ViewTV AT-163 ATSC Digital TV Converter Box

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 for Home Theaters: Mediasonic Homeworx HW180STB

The Mediasonic Homeworx digital converter box includes a wealth of features such as a built-in media player that allows you to view photos and video files via a USB connection, as well as a built-in recording function so you can record and play back TV programs. It also allows you to receive digital broadcasts and display them on analog and digital TVs, projector and computer monitors.

Video recording and playback is enabled via connection of USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 and external hard drive or flash drive. The Mediasonic Homeworx is a great option for its clear 1080P output, and adjusting the picture for different sizes (e.g. 16:9 Pillar Box, 4:3 Pan G Scan) is made easy. This makes it a good choice for home theater setups and for those looking for the best possible picture.

Best Features: 1byone ATSC Digital Converter Box

A strong digital converter option, the 1byone Digital Converter Box includes a full suite of features while keeping the price low. Equipped with the ability to broadcast 1080p digital broadcasts for channels like ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox on an analog TV, the 1byone ATSC also has extras like program recording and pausing live TV. This digital converter box also has a USB multimedia playback that allows users to play videos and music from a television through a USB stick.

Additionally, the 1byone extends its feature set even more with a host of extra functionality like parental controls (so parents can limit kids' screen time), closed captioning, access to the emergency alert system and the ability to schedule the box turning on or off. The simplified button layout on the front makes it easy to access the USB input and on/off switch. Setup is also straightforward, with each access port labeled individually on the rear and basic instructions included in the box.

Runner-Up, Best Features: Leelbox Digital Converter

Maybe you're just looking for a digital converter box that does its job and stays out of the way of the rest of your setup. But there are a few extra features you can consider when making your purchasing decision, and this Leelbox option checks off a few of those boxes. First, it comes standard with the expected TV pass-through inputs, namely a digital antenna in and an analog antenna out, plus a coax input, component options, and the important HDMI out (the latter being the most important, because surprisingly a lot of the boxes out there don’t offer the full digital capabilities of an HDMI). But this model has a little something extra: a USB input on the front that allows you to not only play existing media files from your computer, but attach a hard drive and use this converter box as a standalone DVR, pausing, rewinding, and saving your TV shows via the external drive.

Best for Simplicity: iDOO ATSC Digital Converter Box

Featuring a plug-and-play setup process, the iDOO ATSC Digital Converter box is a standout selection for users looking for a no-frills converter option. And while the iDOO is simple to install, it’s not entirely without extras — a built-in external connection port is available for plugging in an external hard drive or USB stick for viewing a personal gallery of photos or videoes. DVR-like functionality allows you to record live TV and schedule upcoming programs so you never miss your favorite shows.

Installing the iDOO is as simple as plugging in the audio and video connections. The included remote control is standard, with the ability to set parental locks on inappropriate programs. Amazon reviewers praise the iDOO’s essential feature set as well as its attractive price point and, with 1080p digital broadcasts on board, the iDOO is future-proofed for years to come. 

Best Budget: Tendak Digital Converter

If you’re trying to connect audio or video between old and new electronic devices, but don’t have a lot to spend, the Tendak Digital Converter might be just what you need. The Tendak Digital Converter measures 3.4 x 2.6 x 0.8 inches and weighs 6.4 ounces. For inputs, it has one HDMI, one DC 5V port and three EDID audio ports (ADV, 2CH, 5.1CH). For outputs, it has one HDMI, one optical port and one RCA left/right audio port. Thankfully, these ports offer a wide array of audio and picture support.

Amazon reviewers have been mostly positive on this model. Customers have said this unit is far from fancy, but it does have a lot of great uses, including enabling audio on computers without an optical output, splitting audio between a soundbar and a TV, as well as connecting older speakers to a new TV or a new digital receiver.

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