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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 so this can be accomplished. 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 videos. These converter boxes also allow you to use the existing tuner on your television to watch TV, while it records a different show. It is a cheap and effective solution to record OTA television. It can also be used with a video projector. Just plug in the OTA antenna to the converter box and use the HDMI output to the projector. Now you can watch all your favorite stations on your projector.

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

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 playback 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 pictures, music, and video files via a 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:

Mediasonic HOMEWORX HDTV ATSC Digital TV Converter Box

Leelbox S3 ATSC Digital TV Converter Box and Media Player

The Leelbox S3 is also a good converter box that allows for pausing and recording 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:

Leelbox S3 ATSC Digital TV Converter Box

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 3, 2020 2

Get More OTA Channels With a Better Tuner

Last updated: Thursday, September 3, 2020I have received many comments about people having issues with tuner reception. Several readers are frustrated that one TV gets more channels than the other one. I am experiencing the same problem. I have two TV’s connected to one OTA antenna in my attic. My Samsung TV has better reception than my RCA television. Both televisions have different tuners. Samsung televisions generally have better tuners. If you are having the same issues, there are several ways to receive more OTA channels with a better tuner. Check The Tuner The first step to troubleshoot this problem is to check the tuner’s functionality on the television that is having issues obtaining channels. Unplug [...]
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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.

7 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.

  3. “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.”

    Yeah but my antenna (indoor) has only one connector. I have a view 3500BII. The back says antenna in and out.

    • Plug the antenna into the “antenna in” of your converter box. Then use another coaxial cable from the “antenna out” into the antenna input of your television. This will allow you to use the tuner on your television as well.

  4. Nope, doesn’t work. It switches to the other channel but you can’t see a picture or sound just the word “record” in the middle of the screen. Probably would be better if my Airbox had two tuners. Frankly, the directions you gave is how to set up your normal OTA system.

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