TV Accessories

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 - Cast to your TV in HD, Android Streaming Stick - Stream On
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 - Cast to your TV in HD, Android Streaming Stick - Stream On
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
Price not available
£29.98
£49.99
£41.01
£42.95
£165.95
Preview
Apple TV (32GB, 4th generation)
Title
Apple TV (32GB, 4th generation)
Resolution
1080p
Supported Internet Apps
Netflix, Now TV, BBC iPlayer, YouTube
Price
Price not available
Preview
Google Chromecast - Cast to your TV in HD, Android Streaming Stick - Stream On
Title
Google Chromecast - Cast to your TV in HD, Android Streaming Stick - Stream On
Resolution
1080p
Supported Internet Apps
Google TV
Price
£29.98
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
£41.01
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
£42.95
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
£165.95

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

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

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

Sky DRX895 2TB Latest HD Box with RF1 and RF2 Outputs
  • 2TB Hard Drive Non-Subscription Model
  • Six times more personal storage than our Sky+HD box!
  • Record up to 350 hours of HD TV - that's enough for two weeks' worth of HD TV - Or up to 1180 hours of standard TV. That's nearly 50 days of TV
  • The 'SKY+ High Definition' PVR has all the functionality of SKY+ with the added advantage of its High Definition capability

Digital Freeview TV Terrestrial Receiver Tuner Set Top Box

Digital Freeview

The device receives full standard Freeview TV channels. 1080p high-quality picture resolution displays TV programs with fantastic resolution.Additional features include parental lock, multi-language subtitle output. For convenience, it is possible to record content on one channel either using SD or USB card functions while watching another channel.

The box comes with a free SCART Cable and supports powerful and effective 7 day EPG function. Overall performance is enhanced with the latest dual Chipset processor technology. Playable formats are MKV, MP4 and H264 Quicktime video formats.

UK Freeview HD + WiFi Ready Set Top Digi Box Digital TV Receiver & HD 1080P USB Recorder. FULL HD DVB-T2.Terrestrial Tuner Analogue to Digital Television Converter. HDMI or SCART. Wi-Fi
  • ENJOY 150 Digital TV Freeview Channels + FULL HD 1080p High Definition Channels & 50 Digital Radio Stations in UK & NORTHERN IRELAND & R.O.Ireland. (INC UK FULL HD Channels:; BBC 1/2/4/C/NEWS HD,CH4/5HD,ITV HD,+1HD,4/7HD, QVC HD , QVC Beauty HD,RT HD , CBeebies HD , Aljazeera HD,Talking Pictures,Film4+1,5STAR+1,5USA+1,VIVA+1,CBS Drama , Rishtey EU, DMAX, SONY MOVIE CHANNEL,Vintage TV & more)
  • NO MONTHLY FEES TO PAY, Receives ALL FULL HD Channels with any TV by SCART or HDMI Connections Choice, Just Simply Connect your existing Roof Or Indoor Aerial/Antenna. ✅ 2020Software✅USB Record
  • The Latest Dual Cipset processor technology inside ,Pause & Rewind Live TV, 7-Day Full EPG , One Touch Recording, Time Shift, Record and Watch in HD ,. Watch your recordings directly on your TV or Computer , MULTIMEDIA Player for MP4/MP3/ MKV/AVI/ITUNES (QUICKTIME ) + .MOV +H.264 and More , Record one Channel & Watch other Available Channels.
  • Records Unlimited TV programs by Easy 3-step Advanced Booking on to USB Memory stick Choice or UP TO 1TB External-Hard drive can be added by USB port. (External Hard-Drive or USB memory is Not included) Transparent Background Menu Display, Stylish Design-Modern 7 Chrome Buttons.
  • PLEASE BE AWARE : Most of the other seller's sells with NO-WiFi Ready ( "iView HD" box is totally unique %100 for your Full Satisfaction) Important Notice: This Product Model is WiFi Ready, Not Built in WiFi model. If You want to use WiFi Applications, You will need to Purchase a USB WIFI Dongle

Roku 2400EU LT AV Receiver Set-Top Box

Roku 2400EU

High definition streaming goes up to 720p HD accompanied with good sound quality. The easy to install box is one of the most energy-efficient boxes on the market.

Wireless capabilities are built into the device along with an HDMI port and an HDMI AV jack for older TV models. The minimum internet speed recommended is 1.2 Mbps. The device is relatively small and fits comfortably in the hand.

Roku 2400EU LT AV Receiver Set-Top Box
  • Great channels with films, TV programmes, music, sports & more
  • High-definition streaming up to 720p HD
  • Works with virtually any TV
  • Built-in wireless (Wi-Fi b/g/n)
  • Smaller and more energy-efficient than any other streaming device

Best Internet TV Box or TV Streaming Box:

Apple TV Box

appletv

Apple TV comes with several appealing features. It allows you to install apps from the app store. It includes a USB-C port, Bluetooth, HDMI, and 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet.

Apple TV  has support for 1080 video playback. This is a good resolution for streaming HD content and quality.The device also comes with 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which is sufficient to stream content over the internet or home network.

Apple TV comes with a Siri remote, simply use your voice to find what you want to watch or use the touch Surface to navigate. Read more here.

Apple TV (32GB, 4th generation)
  • 1080p HD for high-quality video
  • Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound
  • A8 chip
  • Voice search by asking the Siri Remote
  • View photos and videos from your iPhone and iPad on TV

Google Chromecast

chromecast
Chromecast-2015
chromecast

Google’s New Chromecast has improved design with an excellent wifi reception and faster than its predecessor.  Setting up your Chromecast takes about a minute. It still needs USB power which most TV certainly have.

Google Chromecast - Cast to your TV in HD, Android Streaming Stick - Stream On
  • All together now. Watch films, shows, live TV, YouTube and photos streaming on your TV from all your family’s devices [1]
  • Stream from your phone to TV. Just like that. Plug Chromecast into the HDMI port on your TV to power and stream your favourite entertainment straight from your phone with just a tap. Watch shows, listen to playlists and more. And while streaming, you can still use your phone as you normally do
  • Works with the streaming apps that you know and love. Enjoy TV shows, films, videos, songs, games, sports and more from over 2000 apps such as Netflix, YouTube, YouTube TV and HBO NOW.
  • Start streaming with just your voice. Just say what you want to watch from compatible apps and control your TV hands-free, with Chromecast and Google Home working seamlessly together[2]
  • Mirror your Android phone or laptop with Chrome. View your device’s screen on your TV. If you can see it on your phone, you can see it on your TV

Fire TV Stick

Fire TV

With the Fire TV Stick, you can stream content in up to 1080p HD and enjoy rich surround sound with Dolby Audio. Streaming is fast with smooth performance thanks to 1GB of memory and a dual-core processor.

Content can be accessed from Amazon Video, BBC iPlayer, Netflix among others. Thanks to Advanced Streaming and Prediction (ASAP) technology, the device is able to with time learn the favourite Amazon TV episodes and movies and buffers them in advance for playback eliminating annoying buffering while watching.

With voice remote with a built-in mic, it is easy to search for movies, TV shows or genres without having to type. While voice search is supported for the entire Amazon app, game and video catalogue, it does not work inside individual apps directly.

Powered by IMDb, you skip opening credits, skip to favourite scenes and identify actors and songs in a scene. It can be used for casual gaming. Thanks to its small size and ease of use, the Fire TV Stick can be used in different rooms within the house or on the go.

Fire TV Stick 4K Ultra HD with Alexa Voice Remote | streaming media player
  • Cinematic experience: watch in vibrant 4K Ultra HD with support for Dolby Vision, HDR and HDR10+.
  • Launch and control your favourite movies and TV shows with the Alexa Voice Remote. Use the dedicated power, volume and mute buttons to control your compatible TV, soundbar and receiver.
  • Enjoy favourites from BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, Now, ITV Hub, All 4, Disney+, Apple TV and others (subscription fees may apply).
  • Experience thousands of apps, Alexa skills and channels plus millions of websites such as Facebook and Reddit.
  • Do more with Alexa — view supported live camera feeds, check the weather, dim lights, and stream music.

Best Satellite Receivers

Manhattan Plaza HD-S2 Digital Satellite Receiver

Manhattan Plaza

The receiver offers TV in HD free from subscription with over 150 TV and radio channels from Freesat and 6 TV channels in HD. On Demand, TV includes BBC iPlayer and ITV Player. In addition to the over 150 channels, hundreds of non-Freesat channels can be added automatically and combined with the Freesat channels on the favourite lists.

OPENBOX V8S Digital Freesat PVR TV Satellite Receiver

Openbox

The device is an upgrade of the Openbox V5s and supports both multi-lingual support on screen menu (OCD) and DVB subtitle as well as Teletext with HDMI 1.3. Scanning channels can be manually or automatically.

The OPENBOX V8S has 7-day Electronic Program Guide (EPG) support. The parental function lets you control the content that can be accessed. It has both an ethernet slot and Wifi with 3G support.

Sale
Manhattan T1 Freeview HD Box, Black
  • You'll always be entertained with 70 TV channels, 15 HD channels and 25+ radio stations from Freeview. Simply connect to your rooftop aerial (indoor aerials are unreliable and not recommended).
  • Discover what's on in the beautiful 8-day TV Guide without missing a thing on the mini-TV.
  • Set reminders for your favourite shows in one tap. Create your own list of favourite channels and jump straight to them
  • Enjoy a great range of internet channels featuring free and premium Content, including planet knowledge, ketchup TV and box nation
  • Connect to HDTVs with the included 1.2m HDMI cable for picture-perfect HD and Dolby Digital surround sound. Connect to older TVs via scart or RCAs with the Manhattan analogue AV kit (not included)

Best Digital TV Recorder

Hitachi 500gb Freeview HD Digital TV Recorder with Smart HDR5T01

Humax HDR

The recorder can record 2 programmes simultaneously with up to 250 hours of recording time. Along with the ability to pause live streaming TV for up to 30 minutes. Using the ethernet connection, you can access your broadband. With the convenience of a 7-day electronic programme guide, you get updates on upcoming programmes.

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
  • WATCH FREEVIEW IN FULL HD - The DVB400 allows you to experience Freeview in Full HD quality
  • RECORD TO STORAGE DEVICE - With a USB PVR, you can record all your favourite shows to EXTERNAL hard drive or USB stick to save forever
  • AUDIO OUT - Coaxial audio out allows you to connect easily to sound bars and stereo systems for truly awesome sound
  • PAUSE LIVE TV - Record Time Shift and EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) allow you to plan your viewing and pause the action
  • Max Resolution: 1080p - Video Output: HDMI / SCART - Audio Output: HDMI / SCART / Coaxial

Humax HDR-FOX T2 500GB Freeview + HD Digital TV Recorder

Hitachi Freeview

The recorder can store up to 300 hours of standard definition content and up to 125 hours of high definition content thanks to the 500GB hard disc drive. Twin tuners allow you to watch one programme while recording another, alternatively, you can watch a recording from the hard drive while recording two channels simultaneously.

You also get free HD channels from ITV, BBC and Channel 4 without subscriptions as well as access to up to 50 standard definition Freeview TV channels and over 24 radio channels. With Home Media Server, it is possible to share content that is recorded with other devices within the home.

HDMI output goes up to 1080p for intense and vibrant image output. The box will also upscale standard definition content for clarity and vibrancy of images. Series recording keeps track of a selected series and on the press of a button can automatically record all episodes of a series.

The HDR-FOX T2 receives Freeview channels and therefore requires a terrestrial aerial, it, however, will not Freesat channels from satellite dishes.

Manhattan T3-R Freeview Play 4K Smart Recorder 500GB
  • The ultimate subscription-free TV experience: the T3-R perfectly combines over 85 Freeview channels with on demand TV from BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, UKTV Play and more.
  • Pause and rewind live TV, record two programmes at once and record entire series at the touch of a button. The 500GB hard drive holds up to 300 hours of recordings, smartly organised into categories and series.
  • Catch up with the last 7 days straight from the TV guide (with supported channels & programmes).
  • Find, watch and save programmes effortlessly with featured picks, smart search, your own personal watchlist and more.
  • Bring YouTube and YouTube Kids to the biggest screen in the home.

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