How to Record Over The Air TV With a Digital Converter Box / DVR

Over the air television is a great way to watch free television, but many people like to record their shows to watch later. There are a few options that allow you to do this. One of the easiest and cheapest solutions is to use a digital converter box with a built in DVR to record your broadcast shows. Many of these devices allow you to connect an external USB drive to record your videos. It is a cheap and effective solution to record OTA television.

What is a Digital Converter Box?

Digital converter boxes have been around ever since the digital switch happen back in 2009. They allowed for older television sets that did not have digital tuners built in to convert analog signals to digital. This would let you hold on to your old analog TV set. The newer converter boxes have come a long way and allow you to record live TV.

Recording Live TV

You can use these boxes with any monitor, TV or projector that has an HDMI input. These boxes will do full 1080p. They also will pause live TV so you can resume your program or skip through commercials. You will need to plug in a USB hard dive or key to record or pause live TV. Which are sold separately.

Watch TV While Recording

How to Record Over The Air TV With a Digital Converter Box / DVR

Antenna Loop Through

By using the DVR’s loop through option, you can still watch television, while recording, by using the TV’s tuner. To loop through means allowing the antenna signal to pass through the converter box to the TV. This is done by plugging your antenna cable into the RF input of the converter box. Then plug a coaxial cable from the RF output to the antenna input on the back of your television. This way you can record a show and still watch TV. Let’s look at some of the options to record live TV with a digital converter box.

Mediasonic HW180STB HomeWorx HDTV Digital Converter Box with Media Player and Recording

Mediasonic Homeworx HW180STB 3 / 4 Channel HDTV Digital Converter Box with Recording and Media Player (New Version)

The Mediasonic converter box is a basic DVR box that will allow you to record TV shows without spending a ton of money. It’s Personal Video Recorder feature records programs either by pressing record while viewing a program or scheduling a program to be recorded at a later time. The box only has one built in tuner, which allows for recordings of one program at a time. Programs can be recorded to either a USB thumb drive (up to 64GB) or an external USB hard drive (up to 2TB). If you set a timer to record, it will wake up and turn itself on, record the show and then shut itself off. You can also play back the files on a regular PC. The internal electronic program guide works well. You can schedule recordings straight from it. One of the advantages of using this converter box is it unlocks Dolby Digital 5.1 over HDMI to your home theater receiver, so you can make full use of surround sound. This is a good converter box and worth the money.


  • Converts digital ATSC broadcast to your Analog & Digital TV, Projector and Monitor
  • USB Multimedia Player (Support USB Flash Drive up to 64GB)
  • Support MPEG-2/4, H.264/AVC, 1080P HD Digital TV
  • Support MPEG-1 Layer I & II Dolby Digital Audio
  • Analog Pass Through
  • Channel 3 / 4 FunctionHow to Record Over The Air TV With a Digital Converter Box / DVR
  • Favorite Channel List
  • Parental Control Function
  • Auto Tuning
  • Auto, 16:9 Pillar Box, 16:9 Pan G Scan, 4:3 Letter Box, 4:3 Pan G Scan, 4:3 Full, 16:9 Wide Screen
  • Closed Caption
  • HDMI 1080P Output / Composite Output / Coaxial Output

How to Record Over The Air TV With a Digital Converter Box / DVR

Where to Buy:

The Mediasonic HW180STB is available from theses retailers:



Viewtv At-263 ATSC Digital TV Converter Box and Media Player

ViewTV AT-263 ATSC Digital TV Converter Box and HDMI Cable w/ Recording PVR Function / HDMI Out / Coaxial Out / Composite Out / USB Input (New Model)

The Viewtv At-263 is also a good converter box that allows for pausing and recording of live TV shows. It is easy to install and takes up little space. This box has a nice user interface and records to an external hard drive,which is easy to setup. It has a good tuner that picks up many over the air channels. Good overall converter box for the price.

How to Record Over The Air TV With a Digital Converter Box / DVR


  • Converts digital broadcast to your analog TV
  • Cable loop through
  • EPG (Electronic Programming Guide) and program information
  • Favorite channel list
  • Parental control function
  • Auto tuning
  • Auto, 16:9 Pillar Box, 16:9 Pan G Scan, 4:3 Letter Box, 4:3 Pan G Scan, 4:3 Full, 16:9 Wide Screen
  • Closed Captioning
  • EAS (Emergency Alert System) to alert you of any emergency information from TV stations
  • Full function remote control
  • Real time recording and appointed recording
  • 1080P output / CVBS output
  • Timing startup and shutdown
  • USB multimedia player

Where to Buy:

The Viewtv At-263 is available from theses retailers:



Need help choosing an antenna. Click on our guides below:

how to choose an hd antenna guide

tv station locator tool

Channel Master DVR+

Channel Master DVR+ Bundle - subscription free digital video recorder with web features and channel guide (CM7500BDL3)

The Channel Master DVR is not considered a true digital converter box because it will not convert a digital signal to an analog TV, but it will allow you to plug in an HD antenna into it and record live TV. This box has a whole lot of features that make it stand out. The DVR+ includes two digital tuners, allowing users to record one program while watching another or record two programs at the same time. When an external hard drive is attached, users can also watch a recorded program while recording two live programs at the same time. It also comes with 16 GB of internal storage that allows for 2 hours of recording and 15 minutes of live TV pausing. You can also plug in an external USB hard drive to take full advantage of it’s recording features. Using a wireless internet connection let’s you stream many on line channels.


  • DVR+, USB wireless Internet adapter, 12′ HDMI, DVR+ remote and IR extender
  • Watch and record over-the-air broadcast programming in pure, uncompressed HD, video resolutions up to 1080i/1080p
  • DVR+ TV connection is HDMI only, does not function as a converter box and is not compatible with older analog televisions
  • Full DVR functionality and expanded storage capacity requires an external USB hard drive
  • Programming reception requires an over-the-air antenna
  • Dual tuners – record one program while watching another, or record two programs at the same time
  • Internet connection provides automatic software updates, extended 14-day program guide, and access to Internet services
  • Electronic Program Guide let’s you know what is on TV

Where to Buy:

The Channel Master DVR+ is available from theses retailers:




If you are looking for a cost effective solution to record live over the air TV, then using a digital converter box as a personal DVR is the way to go. It is also a good alternative to building your own system.

Check out our article on how to watch and record live over the air TV with Kodi.

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Last updated: Saturday, October 1, 2016Most of us live busy lives and may not be home in time to watch our favorite TV shows. If you have an over the air antenna you can record many television shows using an OTA DVR. It is an excellent way to record free HD television and then watch it in your spare time. There are several types of OTA DVR’s available on the market. We will look at some of the best [...]
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About Johan
I started the site to educate the public on the alternative ways you can watch television besides subscribing to cable. I have been in the audio visual business for over 20 years. I also have an extensive computer networking background. I am a Microsoft Certified Professional and CompTIA Network+ Certified Technician. I hope you will find my articles and reviews helpful in conscious uncabling.


  1. Help? I have to Homework digital converter but the date is off by 6 days. How did you fix it. Any updates you know of. Thanks

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