Set-Top Boxes

What is a Set-Top Box (STB)?

A digital set-top box may be needed for receiving digital TV broadcasts, because most older TV sets don't have a digital tuner.

An STB is a device that receives and decodes digital television (DTV) broadcasts so they can be displayed on analogue television sets or other display devices, such as computer monitors or projection screens. These can be SD or HD broadcasts, depending on the type of STB you use. In the most straightforward configuration, you simply plug the STB into your existing aerial and TV set, using either a composite, S-Video or component video cable. It will usually scan and find any available channels. The STB then receives the digital stream being broadcast and decodes it so your existing analogue TV can understand it. You can, of course, also connect it to your sound system and VCR.

Set Top Box with HDTV Basic SD-STBs can cost as little as $100 or so, while HD-STBs usually cost a few hundred dollars more. The price of both types of STB can vary widely, depending on their feature set. As mentioned previously however, there is no point getting an HD-STB unless you have a high-resolution screen to use with it, and even if you do, the lack of HD content means that a lot of the time you will be viewing programs in standard-definition.

Don't let that put you off, though. If you want the ultimate in quality, more HD content is gradually being made available and quite simply, nothing else compares (there are also a number of SDTV and HDTV tuner cards available for PCs and even external USB-based Digital TV receivers for notebook computers).

Inside the box

A typical STB has one or more microprocessors for running the operating system (OS), possibly Linux or Windows CE, PowerTV, JavaOS or any one of a number of small "embedded applications". To the end user, it doesn't really matter what OS is used and usually it is not able to be accessed by the user. A set-top box also includes RAM, an MPEG decoder chip, and more chips for audio decoding and processing. Again, they include everything required and are usually not upgradeable.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

GoodGearGuide Staff

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Shop safely with our award-winning security solution. Protect yourself this Black Friday and get the exclusive Black Friday discount for Bitdefender 2019!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?