For consumers seeking to "cut the cord" from high monthly cable or satellite bills, there’s the option of a digital television adapter or digital-to-analog converter box. These are television tuners are designed to receive the free broadcast signals transmitted over the airwaves mainly from the major networks and some local or regional stations.
These converter boxes are affordable options for bringing home network programming at a onetime price versus a monthly charge. Some of these boxes come with recording functions performing much the same way as a DVR does. Some models can even support multimedia files like digital photos, videos, and music.
We've chosen the following picks because of their connectivity options for hooking them up to a variety of devices, as well as their ability to record shows to a USB flash drive or and external hard drive. Each of the following converter boxes also offers basic features such as program guides or parental controls. Finally, each of our selections is easy to use and affordable to purchase, with all of the picks costing around or under $50.
Offering excellent quality and usability, this affordable converter box is popular for a reason. With the ability to program timed recording of broadcasts and saving them to a USB flash drive or external hard drive, the Mediasonic combines the convenience of a converter box with rudimentary DVR functionality. Read Full Review
The Mediasonic HW-150PVR is very popular option thanks to its excellent functionality and affordability. This converter box translates ATSC signals to analog, allowing older analog TVs to display digital over-the-air channels. Although the amount of channels the converter box picks up depends upon your antenna setup, most users report a high amount of channels and visual quality provided by this unit.
The units connectivity options allow for a variety of display options, including a component video (YPbPr) out, single HDMI output, and a coaxial output. The HW-150PVR is a single tuner, meaning only one show can be recorded at once, but programmed recording to a USB flash drive or external hard drive is supported. Other features include parental controls, closed captions, and analog pass-through. Although the interface may take some getting used to, this excellent digital to analog converter box is a well-rounded choice.
The inclusion of HDMI connectivity helps the Medisonic HW180STB stand out as this feature isn’t always easily found on affordable converter boxes. Offering a lot of utility for the money, this digital to analog converter box is an excellent overall option. Read Full Review
The new version of the Medisonic HW180STB is part of the HomeWorx line, a series of converter boxes which transform over-the-air ATSC TV signals to analog/digital TVs, projectors, home theater receivers, and monitors. The devices connectivity supports the output of broadcasts to a variety of devices, including in full 1080p HD.
The HW180STB permits programmed recording thanks to a built-in recorder and it uses a USB flash drive or external hard drive to store files. This allows you to save your favorite shows to view on the TV, computer, or other device at a later time.
As these converter boxes don’t replace a cable box, an external antenna is required to receive a signal; this means the strength and quality of the signal will depend on your antenna and area. Extra features include the ability to set up a favorite channel list, parental controls, closed captions, and analog pass through.
If you’re looking for a digital to analog converter box offering tremendous value, the iView 3500STBII should be one of your top choices. This converter box includes features such as a signal strength indicator, Electronic Program Guide, and the ability to program recordings for your favorite shows. Read Full Review
The iView 3500STBII converts over-the-air digital broadcast signals to analog, allowing older TVs and other devices the opportunity to tune into these channels. The 3500STBII also includes a signal quality indicator and an auto tuning feature which will actively seek out available digital broadcasts saving you the need to search manually. Keep in mind that as with any converter box, this model requires being hooked up to an antenna; the antenna quality combined with your area will determine the quality and amount of channels you’ll receive.
This converter also features a dedicated Electronic Program Guide button which allows you to see show times so you can schedule which ones you’d like recorded. The recording is sent to a USB flash drive or external hard drive up to 3TB in size. Overall, the iView 3500STBII is mostly the same as the original, with the primary upgrade being a vastly improved remote control. This converter box is more than a basic device, offering a lot of functionality for the money.
The Viewtv At-163 includes features such as parental controls and an Electronic Program Guide, so recording your favorite shows is convenient and simple. Affordably priced, this digital to analog converter box is a solid overall option. Read Full Review
The Viewtv At-163 analog converter box converts over-the-air digital broadcasts so they can be watched on older TVs. Featuring a sleek design, this converter box comes with cables and a remote control included. There are multiple outputs which allow you to hook the converter box up to a variety of devices, and it also records your favorite shows to a USB flash drive or external hard drive.
Extra features include the ability to set up a favorite channels list, parental controls, timed startup/shutdown, and an Electronic Program Guide to see the schedule of your preferred programs. Setup is reasonably simple, although the manual isn’t particularly helpful. While the interface isn’t the most streamlined, this effective converter box is easy enough to use and can be had for a very affordable price.
The Insignia NS-DXA2 might be basic, but its simplicity makes this unit an ideal choice for individuals who might not be the most tech-savvy. This converter box from Best Buy’s in-house brand offers solid performance and basic features for an affordable price. Read Full Review
The Insignia NS-DXA2 offers you solid functionality for a reasonable price. Although this converter box doesn’t include a large number of features, it does offer closed captions, a basic program guide, and an included remote control. As with any digital to analog converter box, the NS-DXA2 requires a separate antenna in order to receive signals. However, this converter box offers good reception and video quality, and satisfactorily receives even weaker signals. Everything is easy to set up and use, making this a good choice for even non-tech savvy people.