Set Top Box vs Internet Streaming Box vs Satellite Receiver Box vs Digital Recording Box

You’re not the only one confused with so many types of TV content boxes. In this article, we’ve tried to dispel the confusion, so here goes.

Set Top Boxes, Internet streaming boxes, satellite receiver boxes and digital recording boxes are all devices that are used to receive and display content on TVs. Generally, they are used for digital signals and broadcasts and provide benefits not available on a standard TV. The choice of device depends on the content to be viewed, budget and TV capabilities.

Bestsellers:

Comparison:

Preview
Apple TV (32GB, 4th generation)
Google Chromecast Smart TV Streaming Stick
Fire TV Stick 4K Ultra HD with Alexa Voice Remote | streaming media player
Manhattan T1 Freeview HD Box, Black
HD Freeview Set Top Box – August DVB400 - Watch, Record, Play and Pause Live TV in 1080p High Definition - SCART and HDMI AV Out for Old and New Televisions
Manhattan T3-R Freeview Play 4K Smart Recorder 500GB
Title
Apple TV (32GB, 4th generation)
Google Chromecast Smart TV Streaming Stick
Fire TV Stick 4K Ultra HD with Alexa Voice Remote | streaming media player
Manhattan T1 Freeview HD Box, Black
HD Freeview Set Top Box – August DVB400 - Watch, Record, Play and Pause Live TV in 1080p High Definition - SCART and HDMI AV Out for Old and New Televisions
Manhattan T3-R Freeview Play 4K Smart Recorder 500GB
Resolution
1080p
1080p
4K
HD
1080p
4K
Supported Internet Apps
Netflix, Now TV, BBC iPlayer, YouTube
Google TV
BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, Now, ITV Hub, All 4, Disney+, Apple TV and others
Freeview
Freeview
BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, UKTV Play
Price
£129.00
£30.00
£49.99
£35.00
£31.40
£168.99
Preview
Apple TV (32GB, 4th generation)
Title
Apple TV (32GB, 4th generation)
Resolution
1080p
Supported Internet Apps
Netflix, Now TV, BBC iPlayer, YouTube
Price
£129.00
Preview
Google Chromecast Smart TV Streaming Stick
Title
Google Chromecast Smart TV Streaming Stick
Resolution
1080p
Supported Internet Apps
Google TV
Price
£30.00
Preview
Fire TV Stick 4K Ultra HD with Alexa Voice Remote | streaming media player
Title
Fire TV Stick 4K Ultra HD with Alexa Voice Remote | streaming media player
Resolution
4K
Supported Internet Apps
BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, Now, ITV Hub, All 4, Disney+, Apple TV and others
Price
£49.99
Preview
Manhattan T1 Freeview HD Box, Black
Title
Manhattan T1 Freeview HD Box, Black
Resolution
HD
Supported Internet Apps
Freeview
Price
£35.00
Preview
HD Freeview Set Top Box – August DVB400 - Watch, Record, Play and Pause Live TV in 1080p High Definition - SCART and HDMI AV Out for Old and New Televisions
Title
HD Freeview Set Top Box – August DVB400 - Watch, Record, Play and Pause Live TV in 1080p High Definition - SCART and HDMI AV Out for Old and New Televisions
Resolution
1080p
Supported Internet Apps
Freeview
Price
£31.40
Preview
Manhattan T3-R Freeview Play 4K Smart Recorder 500GB
Title
Manhattan T3-R Freeview Play 4K Smart Recorder 500GB
Resolution
4K
Supported Internet Apps
BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, UKTV Play
Price
£168.99

Set-top Box

Essentially, a set-top box enables reception, decoding and display of digital broadcasts on standard television. With two way communication, most STBs incorporate internet access and interactive features such as an addition of premium channels.

Satellite and cable television can both be viewed with the use of a set-top box. Additional features that may be included are a video on demand, home networking, video-conferencing, IP telephony and satellite broadband services.

Internet TV Box

Internet TV boxes or Streaming TV boxes are devices that allow a viewer to stream online content directly to the TV turning a standard TV to a smart TV.

Streaming TV boxes access the Internet using either an ethernet cable or through a WiFi network. To stream standard definition content, it is recommended to have a minimum speed of 3Mbps and at least 5Mbps for high definition content.

However, a typical Internet TV box is not able to access digital TV.

Some boxes have the ability to mirror a mobile device to the screen. With this ability, it is possible to navigate through menus and use a tablet or a phone as a remote to determine what shows on the screen.

Satellite Receiver

Satellite receivers are the end components of satellite TV systems. They de-scramble encrypted signals and convert the signals to an Analog format recognizable by a standard television.

Unlike some set-top boxes that can display one programme while recording another, satellite receivers extract individual channels.

They are also used by service providers to keep track of programs that are pay per view, the information will be communicated to the providers to facilitate billing. Therefore since only the signal for one channel is received at a time, it is not possible to view one channel while recording a second or to record two programmes concurrently.

Satellite TV, however, offers high-quality picture and sound. Generally using a satellite receiver will require a subscription to a satellite cable provider.

Recordable satellite receivers also referred to as Personal Video Recorder boxes record shows for later viewing, pause, fast forward, slow motion or rewind live TV. In addition, the receivers can be set to record a show automatically.

Additional features to look for in a satellite receiver includes USB ports and compatibility, sorting of channels, parental controls and subtitles.

Digital TV Recorder

Digital TV recorders could be a set-top box, an internet TV box with recording capabilities. However, unlike a VCR there is no need for a tape. Digital TV recorders are of different types depending on the signal source.

Most digital TV recorders are Freeview delivering digital TV by aerial, others are Freesat accessing content via satellite.

The main types of digital recorders are hard drive digital recorders which are also known as personal video recorders and record onto a hard disc drive and DVD digital recorders which record to DVD discs.

Recorders with 2 tuners can be used to record one programme while another is playing, the largest capacity hard drive digital recorders in the market store up to 125 hours HD content and 400 hours standard definition content.

With a digital TV recorder, it is possible to both pause live TV and set programmes to record via the TV guide provided on-screen.

Best Set-top Boxes

BT Youview+ Set Top Box

BT Youview

This device combines the value and simplicity of Freeview with the convenience of a great on-demand library of films and TV and catch-up TV in high definition. Catch up players accessible include BBC iPlayer, UK TV, 4OD and ITV Player.

With a unique programme guide, it is possible to scroll back as far as 7 days as well as scroll forward to see what shows are lined up. The storage capacity is up to 300 hours of TV content. With the box, it is possible to pause, rewind, live TV.

With Youview Smartphone app, an iPhone can be used to set the YouView box to record. It is possible to watch a channel while recording another or record two channels concurrently. Lack of a fan results in silent operation from the device. Read more on BT TV review

Sale
BT Youview+ Set Top Box (500Gb) Recorder with Twin HD Freeview and 7 Day Catch Up TV - no subscription (Renewed)
  • Scroll back the last 7 days of TV and watch straight from your TV guide
  • Pause and rewind live TV, HD TV for sharper brighter viewing
  • Record up to 300 hours of TV (500 GB)
  • IMPORTANT This box needs a broadband connection to activate (this can be the supplied ethernet or a WIFI adapter , sold separately
  • Media Player Apps- BBC IPLAYER, ITV HUB, AMAZON PRIME, NOW TV
Sale

SKY DRX595 Set-top Box

SKY DRX595

The box is suitable for watching both high definition and standard definition channels. It is a single tuner requiring only one satellite dish cable. 5.1 Dolby Surround sound via HDMI enhances the viewing experience with great sound through the Optical Output (SPDIF).

With no cooling fan, the box operates very silently. The small high gloss finish black device can be stored both vertically and horizontally. Additional features include improved on-screen programme, the option of Sky’s HD pack and access to the widest range of HD channels in the UK. Find out more on SKY TV