Digital set-top boxes expand the usual capabilities of TVs, both recent years of production and 10 years ago. Recreation and entertainment are an integral part of the life of every modern person, and today TV is one of the means of family leisure. The range of receivers, they are also digital tuners, receivers or set-top boxes, is wide and varied. Such a device is capable of many things: from amplifying the broadcasting signals of television channels to accessing the Internet.
What is a tuner for?
A digital TV tuner can expand the possibilities of conventional broadcasting. It is a small device that performs several functions:
- digitization of on-air television broadcasting;
- playback of multimedia files from USB-carriers;
- recording TV programs on a flash drive in .ts format;
- allows you to pause the live broadcast;
- the TimeShift option allows you to postpone watching a digital TV program.
Even if the TV supports the broadcast standard DVB-T2, the additional functionality of the set-top box will be of interest to many. In addition, the tuner is largely improve broadcast quality. According to user reviews, installing a digital receiver allows you to clearly broadcast all channels (included in the multiplex package), capture supported radio waves.
Smart TV boxes — this is a separate direction of tuners, they have a wider functionality: watching videos online, visiting Internet pages, wide gaming opportunities. The principle of operation of such devices can be of two types.
- Storing files and programs on your own hard drive. To use the required application, it is pre-installed, after which it starts.
- Storage of all files in the cloud, access to them is possible only with an Internet connection.
The key advantage of a smart set-top box is access to Internet resources and displaying information on a large screen. The tuner can have several slots for memory cards, supports many file formats. Games are installed on disk (or in the cloud), turning a familiar TV into a game console. You can connect a keyboard to it, chat with friends via Skype or similar programs. Connect a set-top box for digital TV via HDMI, VGA or AV connectors.
In order for the smart tuner to process information faster and better, devices with two or four core processors will be given priority.
How to understand broadcast standards
Due to the fact that a digital TV receiver is a novelty for Russian users, various technical issues sometimes arise. So, it is not always clear whether it is possible to connect the receiver to a satellite dish (for example, «Tricolor») instead of the usual one in order to improve the quality and use the functionality of the device. The answer is simple: yes, it is possible, but pointless. The receiver will broadcast terrestrial broadcasting channels, and satellite dish will only serve as an antenna to receive the signal.
Broadcasting standards in our country are different:
- DVB (DVB-T, DVB-T2) — broadcasting in digital format, which is caught by a conventional antenna: indoor or outdoor;
- DVB-C — cable digital television, transmitted via fiber optic wires, as a rule, it is organized by various Internet providers;
- DVB-H — broadcasting to mobile phones;
- DVB-S — satellite digital television signals.
Important! A DVB T TV tuner will receive and decode only the first (terrestrial) type of broadcast, so it does not make sense to connect it to a satellite dish.
Choosing a digital set-top box
The quality of digital signal reception depends on the equipment. When choosing a set-top box, you should take into account a number of technical parameters and factors that affect the ease of use of the device.
Before choosing a device, the buyer needs to decide on the required broadcasting standard, which were described above. To view digital multiplexes (20 free-to-air channels), the set-top box must be equipped with a DVB-T2 tuner. To connect cable or satellite TV, you need a receiver that matches this broadcast format.
Important! Today, there are consoles on sale that have several built-in tuners at once. This technique is multifunctional and can be used to receive any type of digital broadcast.
The owner of the TV should look at the available communication connectors in order to select a compatible set-top box and purchase the correct connection cable if necessary: (RCA) or HDMI.
Consider the key selection criteria.
- Useful interfaces. This is a USB to watch videos, photos and movies from a flash drive. Audio jack for connecting headphones or other external speakers.
- Not all set-top boxes have control buttons on the body that duplicate the remote control. It is recommended to pay attention to the device with such a set of buttons. If the remote control fails, they can be controlled by the set-top box: turn on / off the device, select channels, pause viewing, rewind.
- The device can operate from the built-in or external power supply. The second option is preferable. The device is lighter and smaller in size, heats up less.
- It’s good if a budget-level set-top box supports such functions as viewing an electronic program guide (EPG), recording programs on a USB flash drive and viewing control (PVR and TimeShift), and is equipped with a built-in video player.
- When choosing a more advanced set-top box, you should give preference to a device with a Wi-Fi adapter running an operating system. Such a smart set-top box will expand the scope of using a conventional TV receiver.
- Equipping the set-top box with support for HD definition is relevant if the TV is designed for high resolution settings. The display on the case is an optional but convenient addition.
The price of digital set-top boxes varies in a wide range, from 800 rubles to 16,000 rubles. The most expensive ones tend to be smart tuners with more features. If the choice is limited to conventional receivers, then here the price determines the number of different connectors and slots, functions, signal transmission speed.
Which prefix will be better depends on individual needs: budget ones are designed for a limited set of options, but for a garden or a summer house this is a good solution. More expensive and multifunctional ones are needed when all the capabilities of the device will be used. When choosing a suitable model, it is worth determining what result the user needs.
For any equipment, it is important to have a service center in your city or nearby, technical support. The user must be protected from possible factory defects or fine tuning problems.
The best TV boxes
There is no single answer to the question of trust in a particular brand. Many companies have established assembly sites in China. When choosing a device, you should focus on technical specifications, a visual assessment of build quality and customer reviews on thematic forums.
We present popular TV set-top boxes in different price categories.
A good inexpensive device of a Russian brand with support for DVB-T/T2/C broadcasting formats. The specifications of the device include a powerful processor, a Wi-Fi adapter, antenna input and output, RCA and HDMI communication connectors. The set-top box is equipped with 2 USB ports, a display, pre-installed Lumax, Megogo and YouTube applications. PVR, TimeShift, EPG and FHD resolution functions are supported. Price from 900 rubles.
World Vision Foros Combo T2/S2
A combined set-top box that allows you to watch digital broadcasting, cable and satellite TV. The device is equipped with antenna jacks and tuners suitable for broadcasting formats. Stable operation is provided by a powerful processor. The specifications include a 3G modem and a Wi-Fi adapter, HDMI, 3.5, USB ports. Support for IPTV, pre-installed YouTube and Megogo applications are announced. The cost is from 1260 rubles.
Digifors Smart 200 Android
This is a smart set-top box with a DVB-T2 tuner and a Wi-Fi modem. It runs on Android 4.4.2 OS, has 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage, performance is provided by a 4-core processor. The list of interfaces includes RCA and HDMI connectors, antenna input and output, audio — AV jack, 2 USB ports with support for connecting a mouse and keyboard. The price of the model is from 5 and a half thousand rubles.
Connecting several TVs to the set-top box
If there are several TVs in the house, and the user wants to connect them to one digital receiver, then the problem will have to be solved in one of the possible ways.
- Creating an internal home TV network, when all TVs duplicate one connected to the tuner. With this connection, all devices will show one channel.
- Buying a receiver for each TV.
- Another solution is also possible: connect only one TV to the digital set-top box, and the rest to the antenna, satellite or cable TV.
Multiplex packages and a little about antennas
Multiplex is a package of channels broadcast in digital format. on the same frequency. Previously, broadcasting was carried out in the DVB-T format, but today many (mainly regional) stations have switched to the DVB-T2 standard.
There are two public channel packages: Multiplex 1 and Multiplex 2. They include 20 TV channels and several radio waves. The Multiplex 3 package is at the implementation stage, its coverage is limited to Moscow, as far as representatives of the state comment on it — in test mode. Broadcasting is expected to cover the entire country over time, as originally planned.
As for the choice of antenna, the requirements for it are minimal. She must accept decimeter waves and get the best possible signal. Depending on the location and distance from the signal source, there may be a need for an outdoor antenna, but a small piece of wire may be sufficient.
Connecting and setting up a digital tuner
The digital set-top box is connected to the TV using «tulips» or via Scart and HDMI connectors, the latter provides a higher signal transmission quality. Not always all the necessary cables come with the tuner, their presence must be clarified when buying or purchased separately.
Setting up the receiver is pretty easy. The cable from the antenna is connected to the tuner through any outputauto scan mode it will automatically find all the channels, just save the selected settings. The signal level can be adjusted using visual tracks, they are displayed on the screen and clearly show the quality of wave capture.
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