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The Best Digital Converters of 2016

by Patrick Hyde •

The Details

The digital video signal is here to stay. Television stations were required to convert to a digital signal in 2009, and the proliferation of DVD, DVR, Blu-Ray and MP4 signals makes it imperative to have a television setup that will process digital video. This can make it very difficult for those who still own analog TV sets, VCRs or mixing and editing equipment.

However, there is an answer to this problem and it is the DTV Converter, or digital television converter. A converter is much less expensive than a replacement television set, and it will make it unnecessary to throw away treasured VHS tapes with priceless memories.

When buying a converter, there are the usual consumer concerns to consider, such as brand reputation, price comparisons, appearance and features. However, the biggest concern for converter boxes is the range of input-output jacks. Not all boxes include the same connections. An analog television set or VCR may have RCA, coaxial, S-video, or other, more proprietary connections. It will be important to ensure that the connections on the box match the connections on the analog hardware. This article will outline three of the best converters available for 2016.

The Best Overall Digital Converter: Tivax STB-T8

best digital converter 2016

The Tivax STB-T8′s main appeal is its high-quality signal. But as an added bonus, Tivax also receives free High-Definition broadcasts. In addition, it has Dolby Digital processing for excellent sound quality. The picture controls are flexible, as the box is capable of supporting 4×3 and 16×9 aspect ratio pictures. The connections haven’t been ignored in this model, either. The Smart Antenna jacks allow for analog signal pass-through for simplified antenna connections.

The converter box has other deluxe features that separate it from the competition. The superior control system includes closed-captioning support as well as a sleep timer and onscreen programming guide with extensive options. The remote control allows complete access to the controls and makes the setup easier.

The Tivax back panel includes coax as well as Smart Antenna in and out jacks, composite video jack, S-video jack, stereo RCA audio outputs, and an antenna/RF output.

Unfortunately, this model does not have an HDMI port. That makes it a disappointment for those looking for an HDMI-enabled converter box in case they upgrade later. Beyond that, this is a superior product that will prove top-notch digital signal, high-definition signal and amazing Dolby-processed sound without breaking the bank. The Tivax seems like the clear winner for converter boxes in 2016.

Best Digital Converter With HDMI Connectivity: iView 3500STBI

best digital converters 2016

The iView 3500STBI value comes from its signal quality and multitude of connectivity options. In addition to standard cable in-out jacks, the control board includes a coaxial output, stereo RCA inputs and outputs, an HDMI connector, and on the front panel, a USB port for connecting to a digital storage source. The only major connection missing from this machine is an S-video jack, so those with this connection will have to look elsewhere. Otherwise, it covers the whole spectrum.

The iView converts digital broadcasts for analog televisions with an excellent, clear signal. The box automatically tunes to all available stations, and it enabled the record both pre-programmed and real-time signals to an external hard drive or thumb drive through the USB port. The extensive programming guide can tune in available programs on demand, and the interface is relatively easy to use despite the plethora of features included. Manipulation of the live signal is also enabled, with fast-forward, pause and rewind capabilities.

This is an excellent choice for anyone wanting high-quality digital reception, a range of ports and in-out-jacks, and extensive control over the video signal.

Easiest Digital Converter to Use: Zinwell ZAT-970A

The Zinwell ZAT-970A suffers from a few distinct limitations. Its has a very basic rear panel, which only includes RF-antenna in and out jacks and a set of RCA video and stereo out jacks for connection to a television. Users should note that a UHF/VHF antenna is required with this model. So those who were hoping for a more extensive and flexible connections would be advised to look elsewhere.

However, this box is a superior choice for those who simply want to watch digital television signals on an analog television. To begin with, it’s fully ATSC-compliant. It can receive signals from channels 2-69. It also supports a full complement of 18 broadcast formats, and is even capable of decoding Dolby AC-3 audio signals.

The Zinwell box is capable of handling nearly any kind of modern digital signal and transmitting it to most analog television sets. One handy function of this model is a parental control system with on-board V-chip and channel-locking capabilities. In addition to these controls, Rating Region tables are downloadable on this converter box. It is capable of receiving both wide and full aspect ratio signals for various sizes of television screen. The Zinwell ZAT-970A is an excellent choice for watching basic digital television signals with a good range of controls.

Comments 1

  1. Do they even make that Tivax anymore?? It’s very old and does *not* have an S-video jack.

    There’s nothing with any of these OTA boxes that will allow one to watch something “on demand.” That’s just simply untrue (and, frankly, impossible with OTA format).

    So, basically, you didn’t do your homework and made stuff up. Cool job, I want it!

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