Useful Tips

Set-top box for digital television


Since January 2019, Russia has been switching from analogue to digital television signal. This allows not only improving image and sound quality, but also increasing the number of free channels.

Switching to a digit applies only to broadcast television broadcasting. 99% of households in Moscow are connected to cable television. The transition to digital broadcasting will also not affect those who have satellite or Internet television - they already have digital broadcasting.

The final transition from analogue broadcasting in Russia is happening in stages. In Moscow, it was carried out on April 15, 2019.

In this regard, those who watch TV through the antenna, in some cases, you need to tune in to receiving a digital signal.

2. How to understand if I have digital television or not?

If, when you turn on the TV, instead of the usual TV programs, you see a video on how to switch to digital, then you have analog television, and you need to perform a series of actions.

The absence of a video clip means that:

  • you have originally digital television (satellite or Internet TV),
  • you’ve got terrestrial television, but you’ve already switched to digital broadcasting,
  • you have cable tv. Moscow authorities have agreed with cable television operators to keep analog broadcasting in cable. But if you wish, you can also switch to digital broadcasting in cable.

Note: if you have several TVs at home or at the cottage, they can receive a TV signal in different ways. For example, in the living room, the TV is connected to cable TV, while in the kitchen, reception is via an antenna.

What are digital TV tuners

A digital set-top box or decoder is an electronic device that connects to a television to receive programs broadcast in digital format. The prefix has several connectors, the most important are: an antenna connector (for inputting a TV signal from an antenna), an RCA or SCART (Euro) connector, and an HDMI connector.

A digital set-top box in store prices can be called a “receiver” or “tuner”. This is not a mistake: the English word “receive” means “accept,” and the word “tune” means “tune.”

Each receiver has a chip (ROM), this chip controls the console. This chip is usually called the "controller", although some call it the "processor". The controller operates on its own, developed by people, firmware, and in this firmware there are flaws, shortcomings. Therefore, the manufacturer, trying to improve the parameters of the digital set-top box, releases an updated version of the software. Which through the USB input in the receiver can be read and replace the working version with a new one.

Why does the TV need a digital set-top box

Owners of new TV models can not worry - most of them already have a built-in decoder. But those viewers who have a receiver for several years and who do not plan to change it must have a set-top box to watch digital television.

It will allow watching twenty Russian channels in digital format without concluding any agreements with digital television platforms. Their acquisition is not associated with further payments. It is enough to connect the set-top box to the antenna and the TV, and everything is ready to receive free digital television programs. Many models of receivers have advanced features. Representing the center of home multimedia entertainment.

Digital Broadcasting Standards

There are four main standards for digital transmission of a television signal; they differ in modulation and transmission frequency:

  • DVB-S and DVB-S2 - satellite broadcasting,
  • DVB-T and DVB-T2 - terrestrial broadcasting,
  • DVB-C and DVB-C2 - transmission in cable networks,
  • DVB-H and DVB-SH - terrestrial and satellite broadcasting for small portable gadgets, such as mobile phones or PDAs.

The delay in introducing digital broadcasting in Russia has its good points. Unlike many countries of Western Europe, we immediately introduce a more advanced digital signal coding system. Compared to the old compression system DVB-T - MPEG2. Application of the advanced DVB-T2 standard with MPEG-4 stream compression. Provides additional information transfer in the same volume of the multiplex.

MPEG, as a compression method, is used to encode audiovisual information, including video and music. The first version was designated as MPEG-1, the later versions are MPEG-2 and MPEG-4. The latter provides improved coding performance. Only with MPEG-4 is it possible to transmit high-definition television HDTV.

Different countries use different types of coding. For example, in Germany, as in most countries of Western Europe, which previously joined the digital technology. Television is broadcast in DVB-T format and MPEG-2 compression standard.

The DVB-T2 standard provides for broadcasting television programs in high definition HD (1920 × 1080 pixels) or medium definition SD (720 × 576). Multi-channel audio encoding with the advanced Dolby Digital standard.

Even the simplest TV set-top box for receiving T2 digital television can process a television signal in the DVB-T2 and DVB-T formats, in other words, it shows us “T2 television”. More complicated and more expensive consoles can also process the DVB-C signal (show digital cable). They can also receive signals from the Internet via IPTV, WebTV (show video from the Internet).

How many channels does a digital set-top box for a TV “catch”?

You know what channels are available in Russian digital television, but you are interested in what you can see, which channels your digital set-top box will catch on your TV. The external receiver receives the television signal via the DVB-T2 protocol from the antenna, and can only catch what is broadcast in the country's digital airspace. What are these channels? Twenty television channels are broadcast in Russia (not all towers are connected to 20 channels). Using manual and automatic search, the decoder will detect and then decode all digitized channels and direct their television receiver.

You are not able to seamlessly and efficiently accept the “figure”, the image is scattered into squares. That with a probability of 99% your TV or digital set-top box is not to blame for anything. Do not puzzle over how to find a “more sensitive" tuner. Just tackle the antenna:

  • Check the connection of the connectors.
  • Fine tune the antenna.
  • Lift the antenna a little higher.
  • With a passive antenna, supplement it with an amplifier (provided there is a noisy signal).

It did not help - change the antenna. This option is more correct and cheaper.

Characteristics of digital consoles

The stores have models of different categories. Expensive models have more options than just receiving a digital signal. Navigate in the selection of a digital set-top box for a TV, not on the name of the decoder, but on its capabilities.

All T2 consoles are guaranteed to cope with their task: converting a digital terrestrial television signal into analog format or HDTV format for transmission to any TV,low sensitivity of the infrared receiver of some tuners (to switch channels you have to direct the remote control exactly to the receiver), consumption no more than 15 W,buttons for switching channels, volume and mute, on the remotes of many receivers are not highlighted with an increased size, shock resistanceproblems with sorting channels Improved capabilities, compared to modern TVs, for channel tuning in conditions of a weak antenna signal.some models of decoders with a poor-quality antenna signal "freeze", you have to unplug them from the outlet and turn them on again.

Resolution and Standard

To watch digital terrestrial television, you need a DVB T2 set-top box that processes a television signal encoded in the DVB-T2 standard. The DVB-T or DVB-C standards do not work here, and the fact that the tuner supports them or does not support them is not important. Of course, supporting a DVB-C standard by a receiver can be useful for receiving cable television if your cable provider gives you a digital signal. But a digital TV signal from a cable provider in your home can be encoded, and tuners with a low cost do not have a card reader for a decoding card.

Multimedia formats

To play photos and videos from removable memory, the tuner must support the sound, video and photo format in the most common versions.

Dolby Digital (AC3)

The useful Letter-box output image format comes in handy if you watch television on an old TV.

On more expensive tuner models: among the audio formats, there is already the AC3 format. Not all decoders understand the AC3 codec; it is useful when playing video files from a flash drive or from the Internet. Such receivers do not give problems with the lack of sound when playing video files from FLASH-memory.


The prefix for the “number” is controlled by the remote control. In addition to the buttons that implement the traditional functions of the television remote control (switching programs, adding volume and turning off the sound). The T2 tuner remote allows you to enter the convenient menu of the device and perform its connection and configuration, automatic and manual search for programs. Some models are equipped with remote controls, which can be used to replace the remote controls from the TV (trained remote).

It is very good if the buttons of the basic options are also present on the tuner case. You will appreciate this detail if the remote control breaks or it accidentally gets lost during repairs in the house.

Additional features

Having spent a little more on a TV set-top box, you can count on many interesting add-ons that can be found in various players:

  • burning movies to disk - you can set a schedule, and the console will record video even in your absence,
  • Play video, sound and photos.

It is important for someone to watch movies from the Internet, and for someone, television is enough. Additional multimedia features require the Internet. The magical inscription YouTube in the characteristics of the set-top box does not mean that you can watch videos from the Internet without any problems.

Although most consoles work under the control of software, only a few use the Android system, which gives a number of additional features, such as:

  • installing applications and games,
  • Web browsing
  • the use of social networks and instant messengers.

In addition, they are equipped with a remote control with a QWERTY-keyboard, which facilitates text entry.

Connection interfaces

If you take at random any model of the T2 receiver, and look at the connectors on its rear panel, from left to right, you will see a very similar set of sockets:

  • antenna input - here we connect the antenna,
  • the output of the radio frequency modulator (RF modulator), with the inscription "RF-out". If you see a very similar connector, but there is the inscription “LOOP”, then this is not the output of the modulator, but only the duplicate output of the same input antenna signal,
  • HDMI video output. If your TV also has the ability to connect an HDMI cable, this is wonderful, it is this option of video signal transmission that must be used, it is the highest quality,
  • USB connector - for a flash drive,
  • R. L. V> If the tuner that you liked, the output signal is transmitted through the RCA connectors ("tulip"). And your TV has a video input like SCART, then do not make a problem out of it. You can buy a tulip-scart adapter, and eliminate this inconsistency.

Digital Set-Top Box Features

New models of tuners for T2 television appear very quickly, most of these tuners are quite reliable and cheap, their price at the US rate is about 15-17 dollars. A search on the Internet immediately leads to more expensive models with the same or worse characteristics. Therefore, you should not look for tuners in those stores that, when searching the Internet in the first place.

Prefix with IPTV

It connects to the Internet via a WiFi adapter, which means your expenses may not be limited to the price of the tuner. If you want to watch videos from the Internet with a tuner, you have to buy a WiFi adapter. Chances are good that the image from the IPTV signal will “slow down” or “jam” (the speed of the Internet connection may be to blame for this). True, IPTV-TV through tuners for on-air reception is not of interest to everyone, the vast majority of viewers watch only on-air television through the tuner for on-air television.

Tuner with redundant antenna output (LOOP)

This is useful for transmitting an antenna signal to multiple tuners. The signal from the antenna can be sent to one of the tuners, and from the antenna output of this tuner the same signal can be sent to another tuner. There are also not expensive tuners without an antenna output. And there are tuners in which the LOOP output works very poorly, gives a weakened signal, in the decimeter range.

Set-top box with external or internal power supply

The power supply unit can be external or internal. Both that, and another have the advantages. The general pattern is as follows: tuners with an external power supply slightly better receive a weak, noisy signal from the antenna (less interference from the 220 V network). Set-top boxes with a built-in power supply are convenient to use, although for tuners with external power supply of 5 Volts, you can use the TV's USB output instead of the power supply. Then the tuner itself turns off when you turn off the TV.

Tuner with the ability to transmit power to the antenna

A very useful option if your area has a weak broadcast signal and the antenna needs an amplifier. This model of the set-top box is ideal for summer cottages, with the help of it you can supply power to the antenna for the built-in amplifier and receive all 20 channels of TV. Some tuners do not have this feature (extremely rare). This may not be written in the advertising description of the tuner in the store or on the website on the Internet.

Set-top box with USB input

It provides video playback from removable media and, in many cases, recording TV shows on it (an interesting movie or sporting event or something else). This will seem very useful to some, but not important to someone.

If it is possible to record a television program on a USB flash drive inserted into the USB connector, then the “PVR, time-shift” functions will be present in the characteristics of such a set-top box. Decoding abbreviation PVR (personal video recorder)in translation means “personal video recorder”, and time shift is “time shift”, i.e. the opportunity to watch a TV show later.

You will have to choose the prefix for a long time and carefully so as not to miss the tuner property that is useful to you. Or do not pay too much for those functions that you do not need.

It is very important that the prefix to digital television almost does not improve or worsen the reception of a digital television signal. All tuners are similar in their characteristics. First of all, the operational parameters of the console are important. It’s enough that the tuner is optimized for working with a television signal in the DVB-T2 standard. All other functions of the receiver are at your request. The more expensive the console, the more features.

The forums often discuss questions on which tuner accepts better and which worse. Let them discuss! With a sufficient antenna signal, all the tuners show normally. With a weak signal, there are times when "one tuner still shows, and the other is gone." In such a situation, it is better to immediately deal with the antenna, rather than choosing which tuner is slightly more sensitive.

Some consoles are controlled only by remote control. The presence of buttons on the device itself is a positive point when choosing a set-top box.

There is an inconvenience in the fact that while watching TV, the viewer uses two remotes at once, from the tuner and from the TV. The television remote control must turn the TV on and off, and from the remote control of the tuner switch the channels and change the volume.

Viewers who love comfort very much buy universal remotes with the function of their “training”. Such a remote control can simultaneously control both the TV and the tuner. Such a remote control can be trained so that only the buttons for navigating through the channels, volume and mute are active, so as not to accidentally press "something is wrong."

TV support

Here the question immediately arises - how to switch from an analog stream to digital television? Let's start from the beginning. You need to find out if your TV supports DVB-T or DVB-T2 formats. The first format is already outdated, so it’s better if there is a second. To do this, just look in the technical passport of the TV. If you don’t have it, the Internet will help us.

  1. First of all, you need to find out the full name of the box model. You can see the label on the back of the case.
  2. Next, we drive the name into any search engine.

NOTE! If there are no towers in your village, then either a cable company or a satellite dish will help to capture a digital signal in a good image.

How to connect an antenna and tune channels?