Best Digital Convert Boxes for Antenna TV

10 Best Digital Converter Boxes for Antenna TV

Are you currently aiming to finally be a cord-cutter and finally say goodbye to your cable TV bills but are still relying on your cable’s converter box to power your analog TV?

Then, a digital converter box is your answer.

With a digital converter box, you can receive digital signals and play it from your older analog TV, and as a result you can get high-quality and even HDTV broadcasts without much hassle.

However, there are many digital converter box products available in the market, and choosing the right one for you might be a confusing task. Don’t forget, you’d also need an antenna to work together with these digital converter boxes, and so you might want to check out our previous guide for the best outdoor TV antennas.

In this buyer’s guide, we will discuss all you need to know about digital converter boxes, as well as our recommendations for the best digital converter box devices available today in 2020 based on our tests of various different products available in the market today.

What is a Digital Converter Box?

Nowadays, TV stations broadcast their OTA (over-the-air) signal digitally, and so newer TV sets have a built-in digital tuner and can process the signal right away. However, older TVs without these digital tunes can’t process these digital signals.

Thus, a digital converter box is a hardware that connects to your existing TV and makes it possible to receive digital signals over-the-air (OTA) for free.

The digital converter box will convert the digital signal into analog signals, and so this analog TV set can get higher-quality digital picture and sound, more free OTA channel choices (that are only available in digital), and other extra features like on-screen program information, among others.

When Do You Need a Digital Converter Box?

In the U.S., many viewers were required to purchase a digital converter box when Congress mandated the analog-to-digital switch back in 2009. Since then, most newer TV sets have digital tuners built-in.

So, the general answer to this question is, if your existing TV set already has a digital tuner, a digital converter box is unnecessary. Also, some analog TV models also offer digital tuners as a part of a special converter box that comes with it.

How To Choose The Best Digital Converter Box?

Since digital converter boxes are by nature, pretty simple device, their sets of features are also fairly simple. However, this can also mean that differentiating between different models can be difficult since they basically offer very similar things.

With that being said, when comparing between different digital converter boxes, here are some key features you should consider:

Resolution

This one should be pretty simple. The digital converter box would have an upper-resolution limit, and you wouldn’t be able to watch channels that broadcast a higher resolution. Or, depending on the channel, we might only be able to watch them in a lower resolution according to the converter box’s maximum resolution.

Most digital converter boxes nowadays support 1080p Full HD resolution, but there are also products that offer 4K resolutions. However, most TV stations haven’t converted to the new ATSC 3.0 standard that will have the ability to broadcast in 4K.

In general, you shouldn’t compromise with sub-par video quality, and so when evaluating these boxes, look for those who support at least 1080p resolution. Those who support 4K are still very rare (and expensive), so in most cases, you shouldn’t expect it.

An important thing to note, however, is that your video quality would also depend on the quality of your antenna and your geo-location. In some cases, it might be better to upgrade your antenna for better reception rather than getting a digital converter box (which has its natural limitations).

Output Options

More output options on the digital converter box will mean more versatility. HDMI outputs, and to a lesser extent, composite outputs are today’s standards and most digital converter boxes offer these two crucial connectors. However, you should check that the box does offer these two before making your purchase.

On the other hand, high-end digital converter boxes do offer more outputs like coaxial, component cable, and so on. More connectors simply mean more options for you.

However, the general rule of thumb is to check your TV’s best possible inputs (i.e., coaxial is better than RCA jacks),  and get a digital converter box that supports this input. If, for example, you have an analog TV than only has RCA jacks, then you should look for a digital converter box that has RCA output.

Extra Features 

Obviously, extra features by themselves aren’t very important in a digital converter box, and you can still get the core functionality without any issues. However, these extra features can provide more versatility and extra values in your entertainment and TV viewing experiences.

In general, here are some important extra features you might want to consider:

  • Multimedia player: for example, some digital converter boxes can connect to an external hard drive via USB so you can playback photos and videos. Different boxes may also support different file types.
  • Program guide: you should be able to interact with your digital converter box with a remote. Some digital converter boxes also offer a program guide, so you can navigate between channels easily with your remote while sitting on your couch.
  • Automatic recording: some digital converter boxes allow us to record automatically via the program guide. So, we wouldn’t need to set up a recording for every show, which can be a hassle.

Top 10 Best Digital Converter Boxes in 2020

#1. Mediasonic HW-150PVR ATSC Digital Converter Box

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Key Features 

  • 1080p resolution, YPbPr output / Coaxial Output, Closed Caption
  • Auto tuning
  • Antenna out, Analog Pass Through, Favorite Channel List, Parental Control Function
  • Real-Time recording and programmed-time automated recording (you’d need to use your own USB external/flash drive). Recording available in 16:9 Pillar Box, 16:9 Pan G Scan, 4:3 Letter Box, 4:3 Pan G Scan, 4:3 Full, 16:9 Wide Screen

Pros and Cons 

Pros: 

  • Offers closed captioning
  • Parental control
  • Favorite channel list feature
  • Emergency alert system
  • TV Tuner function
  • Program Guide and program information feature
  • Scheduling and automated real-time recording
  • Auto-tuning functions

Cons: 

  • A rather obsolete user interface
  • Can’t watch TV while recording

Our Verdict

The Mediasonic HW-150PVR is currently the top-selling product on Amazon, and not without its reasons: it has a pretty strong set of features, reliable performance, and supports a wide variety of older analog TVs.

The key highlight to consider is that it can easily attach to any antenna of any analog television, and so it’s very easy to install and use right away. There’s also a built-in recording feature that can do both real-time and programmed recording.

However, it doesn’t feature built-in storage and so you’d need to use a USB flash drive or external drive. USB external drives are pretty affordable nowadays, and the Mediasonic HW-150PVR supports up to 12TB of storage.

It outputs 1080p resolution over HDMI but also supports YPbPr component and coaxial outputs. You also get parental control and program guide with it, and so you can easily manage what your children can watch.

All in all, great feature set, easy to install and use, and very reliable at a very good price. A very strong contender as the best digital converter box.

#2. Leelbox Converter Box, 1080P ATSC Digital Tuner Box for Analog TV

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Key Features 

  • 1080p HD resolution with Dolby Digital Plus and H.265 Video decoding technology. High-quality digital video and audio experience
  • Record shows and playback with scheduling feature requires a USB external hard-drive (up to 1TB)
  • Multimedia player feature: play photo, music, movie, and video from your USB Flash Drive or USB external hard drive. Supports various file formats
  • Easy installation, can receive OTA signal right away

Pros and Cons 

Pros: 

  • Supports closed captioning/subtitles and Teletext in multiple languages
  • Dolby Digital Plus and supports 1080p HD output
  • Can function as a multimedia player
  • Highly effective 7-day program guide
  • Affordable
  • Scheduling and real-time recording functions

Cons:

  • Small memory, delay in the box when entering commands
  • Only supports 1TB external drive
  • Clunky keypad on the remote

Our Verdict

The Leelbox Converter Box also offers a pretty decent set of features. It supports 1080p full HD resolution with Dolby Digital Plus and H.265 Video decoding technology. Output-wise, it supports HDMI out (the standard), coaxial output, and RCA output, so it’s pretty decent. It’s also very easy to install: simply plug in your antenna to the Leelbox, and you can use it right away after just a few minutes.

Regarding extra features, there are three noteworthy mentions: its ability to act as a multimedia player, where you can play photo, music, movie, and video from your USB Flash Drive or USB external hard drive. It supports a wide variety of file formats, and so it’s a pretty decent feature. Second, there’s a 7-day program guide, which is pretty useful.

Last but not least, we get the ability to record shows to an external drive. However, LeelBox only supports 1TB of USB external storage. It’s pretty decent but compared to the Mediasonic HW-150PVR that supports 12TB of storage, it’s comparatively lacking.

Overall, an excellent, cost-effective pick with a great set of features.

#3. ViewTV AT-263 ATSC Digital TV Converter Box and HDMI Cable

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Key Features 

  • 720p HD and 1080p HD resolution
  • Auto Tuning, Program guide, Recording PVR, Closed Caption, Favorite Channel List and Parental Control Function
  • Included in the box: ViewTV AT-263, New Upgraded Remote, 1 Composite cable, 1 HDMI Cable (Signal Meter NOT included)
  • Multimedia player feature: plays Divx, AVI, MKV, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264/AVC, VOB, MOV, FLV, VC-1

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Timed start-up and shut down for convenience and safety
  • Great value for money (includes remote and cables)
  • Favorite channel list
  • Parental control feature
  • Multimedia player feature with

Cons: 

  • Low-quality construction with
  • Clunky user interface
  • Slow firmware

Our Verdict 

The ViewTV AT-263 ATSC Digital TV offers 720p and 1080p HD resolution. Lightweight, easy to install and offer various extra features like the multimedia player function that supports various file types and formats, and is pretty reliable as a player.

Comes with component cable, HDMI, coaxial, and a few other outputs, and also has a DVR recording functionality. One of the best digital converter box devices available today.

#4. Ematic Digital TV Converter Box with Recording, Playback, & Parental Controls

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Key Features 

  • 1080p HD video output resolution, with newest Dolby Digital Plus and H.265 Video decoding technology, high-quality digital video and audio experience
  • Recording function: schedule, record in USB external drive. Supports DVR function for instant real-time recording.
  • Multimedia player feature: play your favorite music, photo, video, movie, and recorded TV show from your USB flash drive or USB external hard drive
  • Easy installation, connect to any OTA antenna and use right away

Pros and Cons 

Pros:

  • Affordable with a great set of features
  • Great image quality with Dolby Digital Plus technology
  • Useful recording features, you can record shows on to a USB Drive
  • The multimedia player feature supports various formats
  • Time shift capability (pause Live TV)
  • Electronic program guide built-in

Cons:

  • A little more money than some boxes

Our Verdict 

The Ematic Digital Converter Box can handle full 1080p HD resolution and you can also adapt the resolution according to your needs. There are also some attractive features like recording capabilities (as usual, you’d need an external storage device for this feature), LCD screen which is handy for information, favorite channel function, parental control, and others.

It is very user-friendly and easy to use, and considering its rich set of features, it’s a very versatile and reliable digital converter box. 

#5. Mediasonic Digital Converter Box (HW130STB) with Recording / Media Player / TV Tuner

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Key Features

  • 1080p maximum resolutions on your analog TV, can convert OTA digital broadcast
  • Record and pause live TV feature. Scheduling and real-time recording.
  • Multimedia playback features: view images and play music/videos from a USB external device
  • Pause Live TV, Parental Controls, Program Guides, Favorite Channel Lists, USB Multimedia Player, Auto Tuning, Recording PVR, Closed Captioning, and Auto & Manual Scanning.
  • Included: Converter Box with 1080P Output / Coaxial Output / RF Out / Composite Out, remote control, composite cables, power adapter, instruction manual, 90-day return, and 24-month warranty.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Decent set of features for its price
  • 12-month warranty
  • Clear 1080p maximum resolution
  • Great parental control feature
  • USB multimedia playback feature
  • Program guide included

Cons: 

  • Relatively expensive
  • Complex, non-intuitive interface

 Our Verdict

This Mediasonic digital converter box can display crisp 1080p HD quality, and there are also interesting features like saving your favorite shows to a favorite channel list, parental control feature, and multimedia playback feature. You can play music or videos from USB external storage. It supports USB flash stick, as well as NTFS and FAT32 storage.

Very affordable.  One of the most complete digital converter boxes available.

#6. IVIEW-3200STB-A Digital Converter Box w/ Recording / Media Player

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Key Features

  • Support 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 576p.
  • HDMI, RCA, Coaxial output
  • Supports OTA (Over The Air) and QAM Tuner (can use for cable service)
  • Program recording
  • Multimedia player: play music, pictures, videos
  • EPG (Electronic Program Guide) and program information/favorite channel list

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Sleek and compact design
  • Reliable program recording (DVR) function, real-time and scheduled recording
  • Easy to install and use right away
  • Works for clean QAM cable service
  • Built-in QAM tuner

Cons:

  • The remote might take a little bit of time getting used to
  • Not very durable

Our Verdict 

The IVIEW-3200STB is also an interesting digital converter box option, and a unique feature here compared to others featured in this list is the inclusion of a QAM tuner feature, and so you can use this for a QAM cable service.

With this digital converter box, you can get 1080p, 1080i, 720p video resolutions, depending on your needs. Regarding outputs, there are HDMI, RCA, and coaxial outputs, which are pretty versatile.

It also offers some extra features like the ability to record live shows that can support 30 scheduled recordings at a single time. For that, it can support USB external storage up to 2TB. There’s also a multimedia playback feature that can accommodate various image, video, and music file formats.

It is a little flimsy and the remote might take a bit of time getting used to, but it’s still a pretty decent digital converter box choice.

#7. Exuby Digital Converter Box for TV with RF/Coaxial and RCA Cable

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Key Features

  • 1080p HD resolution also supports 1080i, 720p and 576p
  • Multiple outputs: HDMI, component, coaxial and RCA
  • Recording capabilities to USB external hard drive or flash drive
  • 7-day electronic program guide (EPG). Plugin your hard drive and watch movies, photos, and listen to music
  • eXuby Digital Converter Boxes are developed with quality in mind to be durable

Pros and Cons

 Pros:

  • 1080p maximum resolution, but you can adjust the resolution to match what’s offered by the TV station
  • Mediaplayer feature, can play videos, listen to music, or view photographs stored on a USB flash drive or external hard drive.
  • HDMI cable and antenna included in the package
  • Useful EPG (Electronic Program Guide) so you can easily find shows and check when your favorite shows will be aired

Cons:

  • Quite rare, but signal sometimes drop
  • Obsolete interface, sometimes buggy

Our Verdict

The eXuby DCB-MCRF comes complete with HDMI, RF, and RCA cables, a small extra but is a convenience nonetheless. It can handle up to 1080p HD resolution and can send signals via HDMI, component, coaxial and RCA. So it is quite versatile and very easy to use not only with TVs but also on LEDs, projectors, and other devices.

There are also some attractive features like a 7-day program guide and a convenient LCD screen, and you can record your shows to external storage. These are pretty good extra features, and you also get a favorite channel function where you can create a special list for the channels you like. Also, there’s the parental control feature.

Overall, the eXuby DCB-MCRF is a reliable digital converter box, pretty affordable, easy to use, and offers a great set of features.

#8. Vmade Digital Converter Box ATSC

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Key Features

  • 1080p output resolution, full HD quality
  • Mediaplayer feature: view Photos, play MP3 music files and view movie files, and recorded TV program from your USB storage device
  • PVR recording function allows us to record shows in USB Hard drive
  • Receive over-the-air ATSC digital TV broadcast to your analog TV

Pros and Cons

Pros: 

  • Great 7-day EPG (Electronic Program Guide) feature
  • Easy to install and use right away
  • Multimedia playback feature supports various formats
  • Price-friendly
  • Reliable performance, stable signals

Cons: 

  • Can get hot pretty fast
  • You might need to perform audio sync first with some TVs

Our Verdict 

The Vmade digital converter offers a complete but pretty affordable option for a digital converter box, allowing us to access OTA broadcast channels that can convert signals to simple analog ones, and it supports resolutions from as low as 480i to 1080p full HD. It also offers a PVR recording feature so you can watch and record your favorite shows by saving it to an external drive.

This box also offers some interesting extra features like the opportunity to access QAM channels (via 8VSB modulation), 7-day EPG function, sleep timer, and multimedia playback system (supporting various formats like MP4, BMP, MJPEG, JPEG, or MPEG-2/4), so you can choose between movies, audio, and pictures to play from an external drive.

#9. Nunet ATSC HD Digital TV Converter Box

 

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Key Features

  • 1080p maximum resolution
  • Multiple outputs: HDMI, composite, RF coaxial and RCA
  • Multimedia player feature: plays Divx, AVI, MKV, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264/AVC, VOB, MOV, FLV, VC-1
  • Includes antenna+amplifier with 50-mile receiving range
  • Mult-language menu: find multi-language channels, subtitle and audio output for tourists
  • Recording feature with scheduling to an external hard drive

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Good value for money for its set of features
  • Good remote included
  • Antenna+amplifier as a bonus feature
  • Easy to install and set up
  • Durable and looks pretty well

Cons: 

  • Parental control function not very reliable
  • Remote buttons are quite small and squishy
  • Obsolete user interface

Our Verdict

The Nunet ATSC HD digital converter box is an interesting and one of the most complete choices in this list since it includes an antenna and amplifier, so it’s a great choice if you are also looking for an indoor antenna. It also features a multi-language menu and a TV program functionality that allows you to view individual channels found by the antenna.

The antenna itself can receive up to 120 OTA channels from up to 50 miles of reception range. The Nunet ATSC however, doesn’t offer automatic recording feature, and the parental control feature offered is relatively sub-par.

So, the Nunet ATSC HD is a great choice if you want a mix of converter box, antenna+amplifier, and remote control. However, we can think that it’s a jack-of-all-trades but master of none.

#10. KORAMZI HDTV Digital TV Converter Box ATSC

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Key Features

  • 1080p full HD resolution, output display resolution 480p/720p/1080i/1080p
  • 4:3 & 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Auto and manual scans
  • Auto Tuning, Program guide, Recording PVR, Closed Caption, Favorite Channel List and Parental Control Function
  • USB input for recording option
  • Full ATSC Compliant
  • On-screen Electric Program Guide Support
  • Closed Caption

Pros and Cons 

Pros:

  • A decent set of features for its price
  • Supports 480p/720p/1080i/1080p
  • USB multimedia player function, supports various format
  • Supports closed captioning
  • Program guides, favorites lists, and parental control setting

Cons:

  • The included remote is very narrow and might not be comfortable to hold
  • Clunky operating system

Our Verdict

The Koramzi CB-107 is a pretty affordable digital converter box with a decent set of features for its price. This box offers different video resolutions coverage from 480p to 1080p and great output selections, as well as some extra features like auto-tuning, PVR Recording, EPG, and closed captioning. Also, it is fully ATSC compliant and also supports Dolby signals.

It can support both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio, and can do both manual and automatic scan to find all the OTA signals with ease. Simple and easy to use, with a great set of features. The user interface is not the best but is still manageable.

Can I Watch TV Without a Digital Converter Box?

The answer here would depend on your television. In the U.S., digital OTA signals are now the standard broadcast signal since 2009. So, if your TV doesn’t yet feature a digital tuner, then the answer is no, you can’t watch OTA TV without a digital converter box. You can obviously subscribe to a cable TV or satellite TV provider, but it’s probably counterproductive.

On the other hand, if your TV is pretty new (say, 2008 or newer), most likely it already has a built-in digital tuner, so you wouldn’t need a converter box.

If you own a TV that is not yet HD compatible or digitally ready (pre-2006, in most cases), then you’d need a digital converter box to receive digital programming. Any antennas that work in VHF and UHF can be combined with a digital converter box, and you should get clear digital TV service with them.

What Antennas Are Best for a Digital Converter Box?

Most antennas, both indoor and outdoor can work with most digital converter boxes nowadays. You might want to check our previous guide on antennas that are ATSC 3.0 ready and also our guide for the best indoor antennas available today.

However, our recommendations are:

Best outdoor antenna: Antennas Direct 8-Element Bowtie TV Antenna

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 A great choice with a lot of reception power and versatile beam angle (you can aim each of the two panels separately). Durable, great with UHF frequencies, and ATSC3.0. A drawback, it’s not the best with VHF.

Best indoor antenna: XFTREE Digital TV Antenna

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Another affordable indoor antenna with a signal amplifier. Can pull stations from a 130-mile radius with Smart Boost technology.

Summing Up

All ten of the best digital converter boxes  we have reviewed above are of great qualities and each comes with their own advantages and disadvantages. So, choosing the absolute best among them is a very difficult task.

However, for the sake of this buying guide, our choice goes to:

Mediasonic HW-150PVR ATSC Digital Converter Box

A complete set of features from 1080p HD resolution support, 12TB external storage, and other extra features like favorite channel list, emergency alert system, TV tuner, Electronic Program Guide (EPG), and others. Very reliable performance, and our pick as the best digital converter box in 2020.