Gradually, analog television is becoming a thing of the past, and it is being replaced by a digital format. Unfortunately, not all people have devices that support digital broadcasting. In order to have access to a high-definition picture, full-fledged sound and a number of additional features, you will have to purchase a special digital TV set-top box.
In digital technology stores you can find a large number of such devices, but they can seriously differ from each other in a number of performance characteristics. Choosing the most suitable for specific conditions of use is not as easy as it might seem at first glance. To make it as easy as possible for you, we decided to dedicate our today’s review to the analysis of such equipment. Before proceeding to consider the qualitative characteristics of these devices, let’s turn to the rules for their selection and some theoretical points that also affect the choice of this equipment.
What factors are important when purchasing a set-top box in 2022?
At the first stage, let’s figure out what such an aggregate consists of. Absolutely all set-top boxes have in their design a case, a central board for receiving and processing, and are equipped with a remote control. The principle of operation is also general: an analog signal is supplied to the set-top box through an ordinary antenna, which will either be transmitted in its original state, or will be converted to digital. In the first case, the set-top box is connected via an RCA or VGA connector, and in the second, via HDMI.
The use of this equipment allows you to greatly improve the quality of the image, and it will not depend on how modern the TV is. If necessary, such a gadget can even be connected to a completely outdated TV, in which the picture is displayed on a kinescope. However, users should be aware that the quality will directly depend on the resolution of the screen.
When choosing a set-top box, you should take into account the features of the TV so that the equipment is compatible in terms of connectors. It is desirable that the product is equipped with all the necessary sockets, both outdated and the most modern. If the product does not have them, then you will either have to purchase additional adapters, or give preference to another model.
In addition, you will need to take into account the largest screen resolution. Almost all modern products can output in HD or Full HD resolution, but you can find products that support SDTV standard definition on the market, but there are not too many similar devices on the market. The most modern set-top boxes have a large number of additional features regarding not only reception, but also signal conversion. In addition, more advanced models have the function of delayed viewing and recording of television broadcasts to external media via the USB port. At the same time, standard TV set-top boxes do not have Internet access, respectively, they receive a signal either via a separate antenna cable or through an external antenna.
Today, more and more providers offer their users services related to watching television channels via the Internet — IPTV technology, when setting up such a connection, the user gets the opportunity to watch about 50 channels in excellent quality. With this technology, you can even watch TV through Android devices.
When choosing models to include in our rating, we took into account all the above factors, but we also relied on user reviews. In addition, the ratio of price and quality of devices was not ignored. We tried to collect as much information as possible on each gadget so that you can choose the most suitable equipment for yourself. So, let’s now move on to the analysis of specific devices.
This equipment is capable of working with traditional DVB-T and DVB-T2 image standards. To convert an analog signal into a digital one, a rather powerful MaxLinear MXL608 tuner is installed here. With this receiver, you can record TV programs, there is also a USB connector designed specifically for connecting flash drives or external hard drives. The software has a player that supports playback of most popular formats — photo, video and audio. The products are distinguished by a very long warranty period, which is as much as 2 years. The device has a combined processor, so fewer elements are installed on the motherboard.
Thanks to this approach, it is possible to significantly reduce the overall dimensions of this device. The top cover and base are made of high-quality metal, and they are equipped with ventilation holes. The base has rubber feet. The front panel of the product is made of high-quality plastic with a matte finish, which has decorative glossy inserts. On the front of the device is a liquid crystal display, which displays the clock, channel number and other useful information for the user. The panel has mechanical buttons for switching channels, a power button. There is also a USB port here. All the main ports for connecting to a TV are located on the rear panel. HDMI cable must be purchased separately, the device is compatible with any antenna that can receive analog signals.
- There are all the necessary connectors for connecting modern TVs and models of obsolete designs;
- All major cables other than HDMI are included with the device;
- Convenient and ergonomic remote control.
- Some users note that setting up the model is not very convenient, and the menu is incomprehensible.
This design is a high quality multifunctional product that is capable of receiving television and radio signals in analog format. In this receiver they are converted to digital formats DVB-T, DVB-T1, MPEG-2/MPEG-4. This set-top box has an EPG (Electronic Program Guide) function. Due to its use, information on the program guide of all digital channels for a selected period of time is displayed on the TV display. This equipment has a USB connector that allows you to connect various kinds of external devices. If necessary, you can use the opportunity to record a television broadcast on such a medium.
The set-top box has a built-in media player, which is designed to play files of various formats, even the highest definition. There is an HDMI port that allows you to transmit a signal in real time. The power supply of the model is remote, its body is made of plastic, the length of the supply wire is one and a half meters, so the receiver can be installed not too close to the outlet. The ventilation grill is located on the bottom panel. The processor together with the main board do not get too hot, so a lot of fresh air is not required. Connectors are located on the rear panel, mechanical function buttons are located on the front.
- Acceptable cost;
- Small overall dimensions;
- Extended functionality;
- Separate power supply;
- Well catches about 12-14 channels.
- Small size remote control — uncomfortable to hold in your hand;
- The kit does not include an HDMI cable.
1. Oriel 963 (DVB-T2)
This model is one of the latest among all included in our review, which went on sale only in mid-October last year. Unfortunately, no cables are supplied with this device, so they will have to be purchased separately. The base and top cover of the product are made of perforated metal, which facilitates the process of cooling the board. The front panel is made of high-quality impact-resistant plastic. The power supply is not remote, but is located inside the case of this design. On the front side in the central part there is a fairly bright liquid crystal display. While the unit is in standby mode, it will show the time, and when active, the channel number. To the left of it are the physical buttons for turning on the equipment and switching channels, as well as an LED-type operation indicator. On the right you can see the USB port.
The rear panel provides a wide variety of connectors — an input for connecting a television antenna, an antenna pass-through output, audio and video outputs, an analog SCART (TV) connector, and a jack for connecting an HDMI cable. Like most similar devices, there is a built-in media player that supports many well-known video and audio playback formats, and you can also view photos with it. The design is equipped with a parental control system. Through the USB port, you can connect an external drive to which the broadcast will be recorded.
- Excellent quality;
- A large set of various functions;
- Easy to install and configure;
- Good picture and sound;
- It is possible to view 20 channels in digital broadcasting mode.
- You will have to purchase all the necessary cables.
Oriel 963 (DVB-T2)
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3. Dune HD Neo 4K T2
This device comes with everything you need to connect and use directly. The power supply is remote, the power cable is quite long, which allows you to place the gadget at a considerable distance from the outlet. The remote control is large enough, has an ergonomic shape, fits comfortably in the hand. The button travel is short and soft, they are all membrane type. The design of the product is classic for the products of this company. The prefix is small in height — less than 2 cm, has a square shape 10×10 cm, the corners are slightly rounded. The side faces are made of glossy plastic, the top and bottom panels are made of matte. The mass of the device is small — only about 100 grams. On the side there are slots for connecting micro SD memory cards and two USB 2.0 slots, all other interfaces are on the back.
The HDMI cable slot works in 2.0a format, which allows the product to support HDR, UHD image quality, while the frame rate can reach up to 60 per second. The motherboard is soldered very high quality. The cooling system here is passive, it is made in the form of a plate of ceramic materials. It works very effectively, so users do not face such a problem as overheating of the product. Additional cooling is provided by the ventilation holes located on the bottom of the player. At the heart of this gadget is the Amlogic S905X SoC platform, which is equipped with an ARM 4-core Cortex A53 quad-core processor, with 1.5 GHz for each core. RAM is 1 GB, built-in much more — 8 GB.
- Compact overall dimensions and low weight;
- Very handy remote control that fits well in the hand;
- Able to read almost all known formats.
- It’s not so easy to figure out the settings, and they are made quite slowly.
Dune HD Neo 4K T2
2. AVerMedia Technologies LGP Lite
Appearance is practically no different from a similar model of the previous generation, released by this manufacturer. On the front side there is a plate, the texture of which is very similar to metal. Users have no complaints about the build quality — everything is done in good faith, the design looks holistic and almost monolithic. In the center of the front panel is a large button, when pressed, the recording of a television broadcast is activated. The operating mode indicator is also located here: the LED lights up blue — the device is connected to the network and is in standby mode, if the light is red — video is being recorded. The bottom panel is equipped with a rubberized surface, due to which the device is securely fixed to the surface. The product has all the necessary connectors for connecting to a TV. There are no slots for connecting a memory card.
All required software can be downloaded from the official website of the model manufacturer. Before connecting to a TV, the product should be connected to a personal computer and make all the necessary settings — specify where the data will be recorded and so on. It is worth noting that it is possible to fine-tune this equipment, select the quality of the sound recording, add another sound track, and so on. Not too many cables are supplied in the kit — only power and mini-USB, due to which it is connected to a personal computer or laptop. It is acceptable to use this product to record video from the computer screen, such as the passage of various games, training videos, and so on.
- Easy to set up;
- Interesting design;
- Can be used to connect both to a TV and to a personal computer;
- He copes well with all the tasks assigned to him.
- You may experience some issues when working with DirectShow Services on the Windows operating system
AVerMedia Technologies LGP Lite
1. AverMedia Technologies Live Gamer Portable
By and large, this is not a TV, but a computer set-top box that allows you to produce high-quality and very convenient streaming of games. This is a fairly compact device that can be connected to various kinds of equipment. The product is able to capture the signal coming through various cables (both HDMI and ordinary AV), and regardless of what it is connected to — a TV, computer or laptop. Video files are recorded in HD or Full HD formats, all information will be stored on SD memory cards. Appearance is recognized by all people who have come across the products of this manufacturer. The body is made of high quality plastic. The side faces are painted red, the upper side is stylized as metal, and there are rubberized materials below. On the top panel there is a button that activates the recording process.
It has a rather attractive appearance: a side transparent edging with blue and red illumination is provided. On the front side there are two HDMI connectors (one input and one output) and the same number of audio connectors, there is also a jack for analog connection. On the back of the device is a button that switches modes. You can record video files from any device that supports HDMI or DVI (this connector is not provided, you will need to buy a special adapter). The official website has the software necessary for high-quality equipment setup. In order to save all changes in the gadget, it will need to be connected to a computer.
- Ideal value for money;
- Extended functionality of the device;
- Attractive appearance;
- The video is compressed by hardware, so it takes up less free space on the memory card.
- Some users talk about the limitations of the software.
AverMedia Technologies Live Gamer Portable
The best set-top boxes in IPTV format
4. Google Chromecast 2
It has a very original appearance and compact overall dimensions — the device is a small rounded disk, the diameter of which is only about 5 cm and a height of about one and a half centimeters. The upper part of the product is made of glossy plastic, where the developer’s logo is embossed. The side and bottom faces are made of gray matte plastic, which matches the color of the HDMI cable. The connector has a magnet, which is connected to the bottom of the player in the stowed state. Opposite the HDMI connector is a micro-USB connector and a reset button for the product. This product does not have a power button.
The main working element here is the latest Marvel Armada 1500 Mini Plus 88DE3006 chip, which operates on the basis of a dual-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor. This model has excellent performance. It is worth noting that this product is equipped with a Wi-Fi 802.11ac support module. The amount of RAM of the model is 512 MB with an internal storage capacity of 256 MB. The cooling system here is passive, which ensures absolute noiselessness during operation. Such a set-top box can be synchronized with a smartphone, thanks to this function, you can perform optimal equipment settings.
- Can broadcast any video files via phone, tablet, TV or computer;
- Acceptable cost;
- Good functionality;
- It is convenient to work with this product.
- Sometimes the video sequence and the sound sequence differ, but in most cases this is due to the operation of a third-party device, and not this gadget.
Google Chromecast 2
3. Apple TV Gen4 64GB
This is the latest generation of set-top boxes from a well-known American manufacturer of modern digital technology. The main purpose of this device is to provide the ability to broadcast video and audio. If we compare the model and equipment of the previous generation, then in terms of appearance, practically no significant changes have occurred. The key difference lies in the overall dimensions — in terms of thickness, they have become larger: the product has become about 35 mm high instead of the previous 23 mm. The justification for this fact is quite serious: the memory capacity of the product has been significantly increased. Of course, the mass of the device has also increased, which now amounts to about 450 g. The case is matte with a soft-touch coating and has a square shape.
All main connectors for connecting additional equipment are located at the back — there are only four of them. The remote control is stylish and easy to use, it has an ergonomic shape, fits well both in a large male palm and in a graceful female hand. Inside there is a dual-core A8 processor and a Power VR graphics unit, the amount of RAM compared to the previous version of the product has become almost four times larger and amounts to 2 GB, which has a positive effect on the performance of this equipment. On sale today you can find products with drives of 32 and 64 GB. The sound of the device turned out to be also quite high-quality, since support for Dolby Digital 7 technology was provided.
- Stylish appearance;
- Expanded operational capabilities;
- Works stably for a long time;
- You can set up a connection without turning on the TV.
- High price.
Apple TV Gen4 64GB
2. Xiaomi Mi Box International Version
This is one of the best TV boxes in 2022 in its market segment, which in terms of style and functionality is in no way inferior to Apple products. The height of the product is about 2 cm, all corners on the body are rounded, it is made entirely of black matte plastic with a soft-touch coating, on which neither traces of dust nor fingerprints are visible. There is an infrared receiver on the front side, all the main connectors for connecting additional devices are on the back side. Not a single button can be found on the body of the structure, and there are only three sockets — USB, HDMI and minijack. The latter can function as an analog audio output or as a digital optical output. It will not be possible to connect various kinds of additional peripheral devices to this model.
You can control such equipment using a special remote control that comes with the set-top box. Outwardly, it looks like a similar device from Apple. There are not very many buttons on it, so it is quite easy to set up and manage the product, besides, the product has very high ergonomic characteristics, connection to the device is carried out via Bluetooth. The set-top box runs on the Android TV 6 operating system, which makes the gadget one of the most unique that can be found on the market today. Another important point is that the device has access to all functional applications released by Google. There is a voice search system that allows you to search for the desired content in many applications at once.
- There is support for 4K;
- High speed operation;4
- Voice control works great;
- All necessary cables are included;
- original operating system.
- Connector not provided
Xiaomi Mi Box International Version
1. Apple TV 4K 32GB
In this section, the second line was taken by another model from Apple. In terms of appearance, the product does not differ at all from other similar devices: a fairly thick black box made of matte plastic. The corners are rounded, and the bottom is rubberized, in addition, it has special ventilation slots that provide high-quality cooling of all internal elements. On the back side of the structure there is a connector for connecting an Ethernet cable, which is now capable of passing up to 1 gigabit per second. With this feature, the user can stream 4K video, for which less Ethernet bandwidth is often not enough. All connectors are located on the back side, in front there is only a power indicator.
To take advantage of all the available features of such equipment, it is recommended to connect it to a 4K TV, and also have an HDMI cable on hand, the standard of which must be at least 1.4. In addition to the TV, such a set-top box can be synchronized with devices based on the iOS platform. This is quite easy to do: in the settings, select the appropriate item and enter a four-digit code. This product has the largest amount of RAM compared to all devices from our review — it is 3072 MB with an internal flash memory capacity of 32 GB. The model is compatible with most audio and video formats, there is support for Internet radio, Bluetooth channel, voice control from Siri and so on.
- The most modern stereo sound technology is used, due to which the user has the impression that the sound source is moving in space;
- Attractive and stylish appearance;
- Long service life;
- High data rate ;
- Support for all existing formats is provided.
- In addition to the high cost was not found.
Apple TV 4K 32GB
In conclusion, a useful video
You now have a more detailed understanding of what a set-top box is. We hope that from the presented models you were able to choose the most suitable device for yourself in 2022. If you still have unresolved questions, then you can ask us in the comments to the article. We will try to respond to them as quickly as possible and give you all the necessary information.