Best Digital Converter Boxes in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update October 27, 2017
If you have an old analogue TV with a SCART port and want to use it with a modern digital TV or watch media from your digital collection on it, purchasing a digital converter box is a way to go. Breathe a new life into your old TV set or use an HDMI-enabled digital TV to enjoy watching your favourite DTV programmes with a set-top box. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
DTV Platforms Supported
Resolution Supported
Digital TV and Recording Features
Connectivity
DTV and Media Formats Support
Warranty
 
PROS

This modern converter has a stylish design and offers two antenna RF inputs as well as HDMI and SPDIF outputs. The 500GB onboard storage provides enough space for hundreds of hours of HD content. 

CONS

Big USB HDDs are not very convenient to connect to the device because of its USB ports arrangement.

OUR VERDICT

The HDR-1100S set-top box provides a great Freesat+ experience owing to the support of such advanced features as EPG and Freetime Showcase. Rich connectivity allows using the device as a media player with analogue and digital TVs.

detailed parameters
DTV Platforms Supported

Freesat+, Freesat HD 

Resolution Supported

576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p

Digital TV and Recording Features

Record Function (500 GB built-in storage), Freetime Showcase, EPG (Electronic Programme Guide)

Connectivity

RF Antenna In x2

Audio Out: Analogue Mono (Left, Right),  SPDIF optical digital Out

Composite Video Out

HDMI

USB x2

Wi-Fi (DLNA, UPnP)

 

DTV and Media Formats Support

DVB-S2 (Satellite TV)

MPEG-2 TS, MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (Media)

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The model comes with an HDMI cable in the package. That's why you can use the box with HDMI displays and monitors right after unpacking it.

CONS

May not always find the channels, which are found by a built-in TV tuner.

OUR VERDICT

You can breathe a new life into your old TV with the August DVB415 DTV device. Using this converter allows you not only to watch high-quality Freeview broadcast but play videos, audio files and view photos from a USB stick.

detailed parameters
DTV Platforms Supported

Freeview Digital TV

Resolution Supported

576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p

Digital TV and Recording Features

Record Function, Time Shift, EPG (Electronic Programme Guide)

Connectivity

RF Antenna In

RF Antenna Out

Coaxial Audio Out

HDMI

SCART

USB

DTV and Media Formats Support

DVB-T/T2(DTV)

MPEG 1/2/4, H.264 (Media)

Warranty

1 year

PROS

Owing to its compact yet elegant design this model by iView makes a seamless addition to both analogue and modern digital TVs. In fact, this multifunction device looks organic when put on any shelf a small cabinet.

CONS

Not very fast in terms of response to the commands sent from the remote control.

OUR VERDICT

Regardless of the TV you use, analogue low-res or a digital Full HD model, this set-top box will ensure a very enjoying watching experience. With a large list of channels and 1080p image supported this device is a treat for DTV subscribers.

detailed parameters
DTV Platforms Supported

Freeview Digital TV

Resolution Supported

576p, 720p, 1080p, 1080i

Digital TV and Recording Features

Record Function, Time Shift, EPG (Electronic Programme Guide)

Connectivity

RF Antenna In

RF Antenna Out

Coaxial Audio Out

HDMI

SCART

USB

DTV and Media Formats Support

DVB-T/T2 (DTV)

MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (Media)

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The availability of an SD card slot enables this converter box to record the broadcast content to these highly compact media. Thus, you can transfer your favourite media from the MSD7818 to SD-compatible devices almost effortlessly.

CONS

The remote control buttons are hard to push.

OUR VERDICT

While delivering an unadulterated digital TV experience (up to 1080p) is not an issue for this model, it is also capable of making the best use of analogue TV sets providing a digital to analogue signal conversion. And even more, the device doubles as a media player with an extensive support of external media.

detailed parameters
DTV Platforms Supported

Freeview Digital TV

Resolution Supported

576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p

Digital TV and Recording Features

Record Function, Time Shift, EPG (Electronic Programme Guide)

Connectivity

RF Antenna In

RF Antenna Out

Coaxial Audio Out

HDMI

SCART

USB

SD card slot

DTV and Media Formats Support

DVB-T/T2 (DTV)

MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (Media)

Warranty

1 year

PROS

With its up-to-date functionality, this Teknikal HD DVB-T2 media device provides an access to IPTV and your favourite youtube channels along with a standard DTV broadcast. The external media support enables the use of this model as a media player.

CONS

A Wi-Fi dongle for accessing network an Internet content needs to be purchased separately. 

OUR VERDICT

With the introduction of this model, Teknikal offers a truly versatile media device. This impressive device combines the functionality of a DTV receiver and converter, media player and even an IPTV box.

detailed parameters
DTV Platforms Supported

Freeview Digital TV

Resolution Supported

576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p

Digital TV and Recording Features

Parental Lock, 7 Days Timer Recorder Function (EPG), Favorites List, Record Function, Youtube, Wi-Fi ready

Connectivity

RF Antenna In

RF Antenna Out

Coaxial Audio out

HDMI

SCART

USB

DTV and Media Formats Support

DVB-T/T2 (DTV)

MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (Media)

Warranty

1 year

What Is a Digital Converter Box?

A digital TV converter box or simply digital converter box is a device that converts a digital TV signal to analog so that you could watch digital television (DTV) broadcasting programmes on a TV set equipped with an analogue tuner. Converter boxes usually provide a SCART port for outputting a resulting analogue signal to your TV and a standard RF In for connecting an aerial cable. These devices can receive digital broadcasting signals from terrestrial, cable or satellite TV services.

Despite the analogue TV broadcasting discontinuation in the UK, there are households and individuals who still use old analogue TV sets for some reason. For those people using a digital to analog converter box is a way to enable watching digital TV on their TVs without the need for buying new ones with built-in digital tuners. Moreover, an analog output of a TV digital converter can be connected not only to a TV but to any device with a compatible analogue input, including a VCR (videocassette recorder). However, it should be noted that this solution is a compromise as you won’t experience all the visual advantages of digital television due to the lack of high-resolution support on analogue TV sets. That is why using a flat Screen TV is highly recommended for a full digital TV experience. You also need to keep in mind that for either analog or digital TV you need a TV antenna.

What Features to Compare

As DTV converter boxes are designed to receive digital broadcast signal they are tuned to support various DTV platforms and services. The list of broadcast DTV providers supported by a certain converter model directly influences the range of TV channels and programmes the model can offer for you to watch. Considering this, the more DTV broadcast platforms your converter box for a TV is capable of receiving signals from the more variety you’ll have in terms TV content. Alternatively, the converter may be compatible with only very few platforms, which however provide many channels and programmes like Freeview, Freesat or Sky.

Not only all the broadcast television providers in the UK have switched to digital transmission, but they give their subscribers an opportunity to watch HD (high definition) digital channels. As we noticed, you will not get an HD experience on an analog TV set due to an insufficient resolution of its screen. However, it is definitely better to be able to watch HD and Full HD channels at the resolution available on your TV at all. To have such an option it is crucial for your TV converter device to support a high-resolution input signal, namely a Full HD (1920x1080 pixels-1080p and 1080i) or HD (1280x720 pixels-720p) signal. While the support of such high resolutions may be optional, the lower, 576i/576p, resolution support is common for all the TV converters.

Describing a modern converter as a digital to analogue converter box only is to misrepresent the device though. Owing to a rapid development of electronic technologies, these devices are more than just converters and implement many useful features. Being compact versatile devices many DTV converters support TV broadcast recording and various channel and content management features. Such as electronic program guides (EPGs) menu-based systems that provide users of digital television with menus displaying the info on broadcast programming or scheduling info for current and upcoming programming with this info always kept up to date. Another common feature among these is the Video on demand (VOD) which availability allows users to select and watch various video content such as TV shows and movies when they want to instead of having to watch at a specific broadcast time. You can even make use of interactive TV on your old analogue TV set if your converter box supports an Internet connection and is equipped with corresponding controls.

While having a converter model that supports broadcast content recording is beneficial it is also very important for the converter box to provide an adequate connectivity and external media support. It is the support of external media connection, such as USB drives, sticks, and memory cards that makes it possible for the digital TV converter box to record the content on the click or on the schedule so that you could watch it anytime you choose to. Using a connected media as a recording buffer also enables the Time Shift feature, which allows the user to fast forward or pause the current broadcast. External media also makes it possible to record digital content received from an HDMI port (if available) on the box as well as to play back the digital content previously recorded on the media with the video output to your TV and the audio – to your sound system in case there is a coaxial audio out on the converter.

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Humax HDR-1100S

Design and connectivity

The Humax HDR-1100S set-top box has got a stylish black plastic case with curved edges and glossy plastic top. With its sleek and modern design, this model resembles more a gaming console than a conventional TV converter box. The glossy top surface of the device carries only the volume adjustment “+” and “-“ control buttons, two scrolling controls made as stylish up and down arrows and the power button. All the buttons are convenient to push protruding from the flat surface of the TV converter and provide the basic control functions. To the HDR-1100S' credit, it was designed not only to look stylish but also to be ergonomic and offer wide connectivity possibilities. In this regard, the set of ports placed on the model back panel will cater for the needs of a wide audience. This HD converter box has two RF in ports for you to switch between the DTV providers/sources, separate left and right-channel analogue audio outs grouped with the composite video out and the SPDIF optical audio out. To the right, there is not so often seen in such devices Ethernet port and the USB port just below, which are followed by the HDMI port. The second USB port is located near the right corner on the front panel.

Review of Humax HDR-1100S

Seamless TV Guide and Showcase for your Freetime

Using this digital-to-analogue converter offers not only a TV-immersive experience but also an opportunity to feel yourself inside a time machine. It is all owing to the Freetime guide support, which as if takes you forward (8 days) or backward (7 days) in time allowing you to seamlessly select and watch the content broadcast within this two-week-long period. The easy roll-back feature makes the TV programmes on the players supported by the HDR-1100S to be instantly available for watching so you do not need to exit the guide menu. With that, you are free to view your favourite content using the ITV Player, BBC iPlayer, All 4, YouTube, Demand 5, Hopster and Curzon Home Cinema. What is even more exciting you can use the Showcase feature that shows you editorially selected programmes for the day selected to always keep you updated on the latest must-see shows and movies on TV.

Humax HDR-1100S in the use

The 500 GB of Storage Space at Your Service

The support of such advanced features as Showcase and TV Guide is complemented with the availability of half terabyte built-in storage on the device. You can record and store dozens of hours of video and even more audio on this 500 GB HDD to watch and listen to it any time you want both on digital (using the SPDIF and HDMI outs) and analogue devices (using the pair of analogue audio outs and the composite video). The wired Ethernet and wireless Wi-Fi connectivity allow you to keep your media collection stored on the device always up to date as well as to share your content with other devices connected to your home network.

Detailed review of Humax HDR-1100S

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Humax HDR-1100S
Humax HDR-1100S
 

August DVB415

A Full HD Resolution over HDMI and CVBS over SCART

The August DVB415 is one of the solutions that make TV and data transfer technologies advancement a welcome rather than annoying and imposing thing. With its sleek design and a compact black case with curved angles, the DVB415 model has a surprising versatility. Its primary function enables a conversion of a digital signal received from the antenna input to an analogue one with its output over the SCART port and providing composite video (CVBS) and RGB video out options. In addition to the analogue video/audio SCART port, which allows outputting 576i and 576p composite video in a standard configuration the DTV converter box by August offers a digital HDMI output port with up to Full HD video resolution support. Together with 1080p and 1080i Full HD resolutions, the box supports their 720p and 720i HD counterparts, which is useful for pairing the device with HD monitors. The coaxial digital audio out aptly completes the HDMI and SCART connectivity and allows you to connect compatible receivers or stereo systems with a digital input to enjoy a high-quality audio from a DTV broadcast or a connected media transferred with no data loss.

Review of August DVB415 SCART and HDMI AV

Plug a USB Stick or a USB HDD to Expand the Storage

The August DVB415 model not only provides a great connectivity and compatibility with a wide range of devices but also has a USB 2.0 port, in which you can plug USB sticks and USB HDDs of up to 1TB capacity. These external media can be used as a storage for video and audio content recorded from digital TV broadcast or other sources. Thus, the DVB415 set-top box can be used both as standalone digital content recorder and player. The feature of recording to external media also makes it possible to set up an automatic recording schedule after listing through the 7-day EPG available so you can be sure you won’t miss your favourite shows. In addition, you can rewind and pause a live TV transmission owing to the TimeShift support.

August DVB415 SCART and HDMI AV in the use

Extensive Media Formats Support

When choosing the DVB415 model by August you can rest assured that you are covered in terms of media formats supported by the device. This device is capable of working with such popular video formats as mpg, dat, mp4, mov, DivX, avi and commonly used mkv. On the audio side, the August converter supports mp3 and Ogg, which provides a superior quality. The bundled remote control makes accessing your media files on storage media connected as well as managing TV programmes an easy task.

Detailed review of August DVB415 SCART and HDMI AV

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


August DVB415
August DVB415
 

iView HD DVB-T2

A Simple Effectiveness

This iView HD set-top box has a simplistic yet practical design and comes in a rectangular-shaped black case with metallized plastic control buttons on the front panel. The top box front panel also features a monochrome numeric screen and a USB port. Like all the modern DTV box models the iView HD DVB-T2 can be controlled remotely with the included remote control, which design follows a simple and handy design pattern of the main box. The remote control offers a standard numeric keyboard, function buttons, volume adjustment and circle-shaped 4-button control for an easy navigation through the onscreen menu. All the buttons have a nice feel and are big enough to prevent you from missing them as well as prevent unwanted pushes.

Review of iView HD DVB-T2

Not Just a Converter

The front panel of the set-top box has a USB port for external media connection. With the support of USB sticks and USB HDDs of up to 1TB capacity, this Freeview receiver and converter offers big opportunities in terms of media handling. Owing to the support of the MPEG-4 H264 video codec, this model can record DTV programmes at up to 1080p resolution effectively compressing them so that the resulting 10 GB records can be of 4-5 hours long. With that, the support of mkv media data container allows for playing videos with multiple high-quality sound streams. As a consequence, you can enjoy hundreds of hours-long collection of high-resolution video footages stored recorded from digital TV broadcast or obtained elsewhere on a single media carrier connected to this converter box.

iView HD DVB-T2 in the use

For Both Analogue and Digital Equipment

The SCART port typical for digital TV converter boxes shares the back panel of the device with an HDMI port in the center and RF antenna in together with RF loopout, which are located on the left. The RF in and SCART interfaces provide the basic functionality of this digital to analogue converter while the availability of an HDMI port allows the box to receive digital video and audio signal from any HDMI-enabled source and to convert it to an analog signal output via the SCART. It is important to note that the HDMI port is implemented with a two-way connectivity and offers an output of the digital signal received from the RF or connected media. On top of that, the converter box is equipped with a coaxial audio out that offers an output of audio stream from TV, radio broadcast (up to 60 channels) and media connected.

Detailed review of iView HD DVB-T2

Mechanical Controls

As distinct from many models on the market, this digital TV box was designed with combined controls and has control buttons on the front panel in addition to those on the remote control. The front panel button set offers two buttons for moving through the channels list, OK button for the channel selection, two volume adjustment buttons, power button and menu access button.

iView HD DVB-T2 application

iView HD DVB-T2
iView HD DVB-T2
 

iView HD MSD7818

DVD Player Redux Design

Contrary to the colour scheme of most set-top boxes with the prevailing black, this model by iView has a silver steel-like finish. Its front panel with rounded edges merges into the rectangular case, which give the device a slightly retro, VCR or a DVD player-like look. However, the MSD7818 looks nothing like an obsolete device and its monochrome front display provides enough info for a comfortable use. The slim button for switching to the standby mode and two channel selection buttons are placed to the left and to the right of the display respectively. The SCART, HDMI and the coaxial output rub shoulders with the RF antenna input and the loopout on the back panel of the box. The only USB slot is placed vertically on the set-top box left side near the front panel edge. As a useful and pleasant addition to the standard connectivity offered, you can find the SD card input port just above the RF input on the back.

Review of iView HD MSD7818

A Handy SD Card Port

Probably the most distinguishable feature of this set-top box is its support of SD cards as external storage. With the SDHC cards providing up to 32GB of storage space you can record the programmes you like from the Freeview Digital TV broadcast and play them at any time you want. You can easily swap SD cards on the box if you run out of storage space and insert the filled card into an SD card reader of your laptop or any other digital device to watch the recorded programmes elsewhere. In addition, you can enjoy watching the media from your collection on the device if you insert an SD card with the media loaded to it. This port is also very handy for viewing the photos taken with your camera: all you need is to eject the card from your camera, insert it in the MSD7818 port and turn on the device.

iView HD MSD7818 in the use

Modern CPU Inside

Owing to the implementation of the modern powerful dual-core processor the iView HD MSD7818 supports such features as broadcast pause &rewind, Live TV, and Time Shift as well as record and playback of Full HD video content encoded with the H.264 codec and stored in MP4/ MKV/AVI/MOV (QUICKTIME) formats. In addition, the device supports the 7-day full EPG and One Touch Recording features.

Detailed review of iView HD MSD7818

Watch TV and Listen to the Radio

The convenient and simple onscreen menu of this set-top box allows you to switch between available TV channels and radio stations. In the menu, you can see the broadcast frequency of the channel or station selected. The EPG feature allows showing a more detailed info on the broadcast items. To access all the device features and navigate through the menu you need to use the bundled remote control.

iView HD MSD7818 application

iView HD MSD7818
iView HD MSD7818
 

Teknikal HD DVB-T2

Of Restrained Design and Solid Build

The overall design of this set-top box by Teknikal reiterates one of the rectangular-shaped boxes with a flat plastic front panel. The black painted metallic case has two groups of ventilation holes on the top and one row of vertical ventilation holes on each side panel. The front panel accommodates the four-digit screen with yellow LEDs next to the power button on the left, volume up and down paired buttons, channel selection buttons, memory and OK buttons. While the front panel design may benefit from the blending of these buttons with the panel itself their poor discernability is definitely not a convenience plus. On the other side, the USB port on the front right is quite easy to make out due to its metal contours and white plastic insert.

Review of Teknikal HD DVB-T2

Connectivity That Offers Many Media Options

A look at the back panel of the Teknikal DVB-T2 box reveals us a set of ports typical for such devices. The antenna in for a DTV signal is located near the antenna loop out, next to which there is a SPDIF digital out for audio signal output. To the left, there are HDMI and SCART ports, which are intended for a digital video/audio and analogue video/audio signals output respectively. Doubling as a media player the Teknikal HD DVB-T2 digital TV converter box provides signal output via either the HDMI or SCART port with an external media (stick or HDD) with supported media files plugged into the USB port on the front panel. Such functionality allows you to use the HD DVB-T2 set-top box with both analogue TV sets and VCRs and digital flat panel TVs and HDMI monitors via the analogue or the digital out. Please note, that you will need a quality HDMI cable to use the device digital video output.

Teknikal HD DVB-T2 in the use

Radio and TV

The ability to output an audio stream from a radio broadcast captured from the antenna input undoubtedly adds points to the versatility of this converter box. With the right panel of the onscreen menu showing the list of radio stations available you can conveniently switch between the stations. At that, the radio panel provides up to nine items in the list to choose from.

Detailed review of Teknikal HD DVB-T2

A Convenient Menu

However, the onscreen menu of this device is TV-centered, which is expected as the box primary feature is receiving TV broadcasts. Selecting a TV channel you enter the full-screen menu, which shows the channel name, its frequency and bandwidth in MHz on the screen top. Under the channel name, on the top left there is a list of two items, which are the programme currently broadcasted and the next programme with start and end time specified for each. The brief description of the current programme or movie is shown in the center of the screen. On the screen bottom, the menu provides the signal strength and quality with scales and percent indicators.

Teknikal HD DVB-T2 application

Teknikal HD DVB-T2
Teknikal HD DVB-T2
 

FAQ:

Q: What kind of TV sets set-top boxes are compatible with?
A: As practically all set-top boxes or digital TV converters feature an analogue SCART port they connect to any SCART enabled TV, which may be an analogue (in most cases) or a digital TV. Moreover, all the modern DTV converters are equipped with a digital HDMI port, which ensures their compatibility with digital TV sets and panels.Thus, digital converter boxes are compatible with any TV that has either a SCART or an HDMI input.

Q: What is the difference between connecting my DTV box via SCART and HDMI interfaces?
A: The HDMI is a fully digital interface, which provides much higher data bandwidth than an analogue SCART interface. This feature enables a high-resolution video and audio data transfer via the HDMI resulting in Full HD (1920x1080 pixels) video support. However, the capabilities of the new versions of HDMI interface go beyond the Full HD support, the actual maximum resolution you get on your system depends on the models of your set-top box and TV. With that, connecting the box to your TV via the HDMI allows for a direct transfer of the stream from a DTV broadcast or digital media played, while using the SCART implies digital to analogue conversion (you get an analogue signal out of your set-top box).

Q: Can I use my set-top box with a device other than a TV?
A: Yes, you can use it with any compatible device with an HDMI or a SCART input. For example, you can connect an HDMI video projector or a video cassette recorder with a SCART port to your box.

Q: Are set-top boxes capable of working with TV broadcast only when using an antenna input?
A: No, most converter boxes support outputting the sound from the radio channels transmitted via the cable connected via an RF input.

Q: What media features do set-top boxes offer?
A: First of all, DTV boxes are not limited to supporting only the video signal and can output digital (via HDMI and coaxial ports) and analogue (via SCART and RC outputs) audio both from the digital TV broadcast and external media. The vast majority of DTV boxes support external media (USB sticks, HDDs, and SD cards), built-in storage or both and can be used as media players. In addition, there are many models with a wired (Ethernet) or a wireless (Wi-Fi) Internet and local network connection, which use these interfaces to source or stream/share digital media.

Q: What kind of digital TV services set-top boxes are compatible with?
A: Converter boxes for TV support terrestrial, satellite and cable television broadcast provided via an antenna cable or an Internet TV (IPTV) via wireless or wired Internet connection.


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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Publish Date: 2017-10-27 10:19:34