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. These converter boxes also allows you to use the existing tuner in your television to watch TV, while it records a different show. 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. The converter 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 drive 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 HOMEWORX HDTV ATSC Digital TV Converter Box

Mediasonic HOMEWORX HW130STB HDTV Digital Converter Box with Recording and Media Player Function

The Mediasonic HOMEWORX Digital 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 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. This box also allows you to playback picture, music and video files via USB connection. 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.

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

Specifications

  • Converts digital ATSC broadcast to your Analog & Digital TV, Projector and Monitor
  • USB 2.0/3.0 Multimedia Player
  • Supports USB stick and hard drives up to 2TB (FAT32 AND NTFS)
  • Support MPEG-1 Layer I & II Dolby Digital Audio
  • Analog pass through
  • Channel 3 / 4 function
  • 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
  • Output: HDMI 1080P output / Coaxial output / RF out / Composite out
  • Display resolutions: 480p/720p/1080i/1080p

Where to Buy:

The Mediasonic HOMEWORX HDTV ATSC Digital TV Converter Box is available from these retailers:

Ebay:

Buy It At Ebay

Amazon:

Leelbox S3 ATSC Digital TV Converter Box and Media Player

Digital Converter Box, Leelbox S3 ATSC Converter Box for Analog TV, HD 1080P HDTV Set Top Box for Recording PVR, Pause Live TV, USB Multimedia Playback 2019 Update Version

The Leelbox S3 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 set up. It has a good tuner that picks up many over the air channels. Good overall converter box for the price.

Specifications

  • 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 Leelbox S3 is available from these retailers:

Ebay:

Buy It At Ebay

Amazon:

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

how to choose an hd antenna guide

tv station locator tool

Other Options

Channel Master Stream+

Android Boxes With Built in Tuners That Record Live TV

The Channel Master Stream+ integrates two OTA tuners to record and watch antenna broadcast signals. It is not a traditional converter box but is a nice alternate solution. The Stream+ has a subscription-free live program and DVR guide, that makes viewing and recording your favorite TV show seamless. The Stream+ is capable of 4K and HD viewing. It is all powered by an Android operating system that also allows you to install just about any app, game or streaming service from the Google Play Store. The Channel Master Stream+ is a fully integrated media player for anyone looking to watch and record OTA broadcast TV and have the capability to stream many popular streaming apps.

For a more indepth look at the Channel Master Stream+ check out our article.

Specifications

  • Quad-Core ARM Processor
  • Android Nougat 7.0
  • 4KP60 UHD 10-bit HEVC
  • HDR-10
  • SD or HD, Up to 1920 X 1080
  • 4kp50-60, UHD Up to 3840×2160
  • Integrated Voice Search
  • Two internal ATSC 1.0 tuners
  • Built-in Google Cast (Chromecast) functionality
  • Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital+ audio support

Connections:

  • RF Port (ATSC 1.0 Dual Tuner)
  • HDMI Port (2.0 with HDCP 2.2)
  • Optical Audio Port (SPDIF)
  • USB Port (USB3.0)
  • Ethernet Port (10/100BaseT)
  • MicroSD Port (U3 Required for DVR Capability up to 512GB)
  • Wireless 2.4 GHz /5 GHz WiFi
  • Dual Band 802.11ac
  • Bluetooth 4.1

Where to Buy:

The Channel Master Stream+ is available from these retailers:

Channel Master:

Channel Master Stream+ OTA DVR and Streaming Box

Channel Master Stream+

Conclusion

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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September 1, 2019 0

Locast Over The Air TV Over The Internet

Last updated: Sunday, September 1, 2019Locast is a non-profit online streaming company that takes an over the air antenna signal and rebroadcasts it over the internet. It is an interesting concept and was tried years ago by a company called Aereo. The government shut it down due to copyright issues. Locast gets around this by accepting donations. You can donate 5 dollars a month and get commercial-free service. If you don’t donate, your viewing will be interrupted with a commercial asking for donations. The channel line up is small consisting mostly of local channels in your area. I was able to test it out while I was on vacation. I streamed shows on my iPad and laptop. It was somewhat convenient because the [...]
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About Johan
I started this site to educate the public on 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.

4 Comments

  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

  2. Can you use a digital tv converter on a digital tv with a tv tuner to record programs

    • You can use a digital converter box on an existing TV with a built-in tuner. Just plug your OTA antenna into the converter box. Make sure you use the RF loop through option on the converter box and plug the output into the antenna input of your TV. This will allow you to use both tuners. So you can watch a different TV show on your television and record at the same time. Then use the HDMI output from the converter box into your TV to view your recordings.

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