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The best set-top boxes provide access to a wide range of free digital channels and allow you to record them for later viewing. Modern models have become more technologically advanced and allow you to play games, communicate on social networks and much more.

To answer the question of which TV boxes are more functional, as well as which model is suitable for devices that you already have at home, Expertology analyzed the market in early 2021, selecting the top 10 TV boxes and sorting them by price, as well as typical characteristics.

Criterias of choice

There are different opinions about choosing the best TV boxes that have various additional features and are equipped with the latest technology. We analyzed the opinions of foreign researchers and compared them with the views of domestic experts. Specialists’ assessments enjoy high authority and trust
Change And Achievementwhich describe in detail what characteristics should be taken out when choosing a suitable prefix.

Before learning how to choose the best set-top box, CAA advise you to first familiarize yourself with its typical features. The standard device offers the following:

Not all TVs have access to the network, for this you need to connect Smart TV set-top boxes to them. Connection with devices is carried out using the HDMI port. Therefore, the main function of the set-top box is to establish a connection to the Internet.

Set-top boxes can also play media files stored in memory and display photos. Many of these types of devices have built-in memory for storing files and applications, and some of the set-top boxes allow you to make expansion to increase the amount of memory.

Additional applications are pre-installed, such as Netflix, Kinopoisk, YouTube, etc. Unlike satellite or cable TV, set-top boxes do not show channels. Instead, they allow you to access various applications to play these channels or stream transferring video files.

You can view 4K UHD content. Ultra HD provides a brighter and better picture quality. Most of the latest devices offer this feature, which makes watching movies more fun.

One of the best features of the device is its convenience. They are easy to carry around, and by simply inserting them into the appropriate slot, they are easy to use. As long as there is a good Wi-Fi connection, the device does not need anything else to work.

The streaming device requires an adapter, TV, laptop or PC and a good Wi-Fi connection. The screen must also be equipped with an HDMI port. Setting up the device is easy, as most of them do not require any software.

Unlike satellite or cable television, you can watch content at any time. You can view, record or download content. Even TV shows with a certain time interval on TV channels are available at any time.

Like any other electronic device, set-top boxes need to be powered or charged. By type of power, they can be grouped into three types:

  1. USB power is the best type of power supply and the most common in set-top boxes. Instead of charging the device or connecting it to the network, you can connect it to a TV or any other USB port. The only drawback is that you will not be able to use a set-top box when connected for multi-streaming.
  2. Mains power is the most common type of power source. The device must be connected to the TV and to the mains at the same time. Such models are relatively powerful, they can provide UHD streaming and support fast connections. They have a remote control for easy access.
  3. Battery-powered – Battery-powered set-top boxes are hard to find and less preferred by many. Battery-powered devices can be charged and used like USB-powered devices. Depending on the quality of streaming, the battery can run out quickly. The advantage of these devices is that they can be used anywhere without a power source.

In addition to the above features, additional indicators can also help when buying a suitable set-top box:

  1. The size– A small device that plugs directly into your TV is usually the preferred type. Few set-top boxes require a dedicated location and need to be further away from the screen. They have other features, but distance can affect streaming quality.
  2. Secondary functions. Another thing to look for in a device is whether they have additional features. For example, the device may be equipped with voice control.
  3. Price Cost is one of the most important aspects. Such devices are a long-term investment, as they do not need to be changed frequently. It is important to consider the Wi-Fi speed and screen resolution of the TV. Moreover, most devices offer exactly the same features as high-end devices. Therefore, it is worth looking for models that are compatible with the Wi-Fi hardware and speed and have basic functions.

Set-top box requirements are minimal. It requires at least a screen, an HDMI port, and a good Wi-Fi connection. No need to run extra cables or buy a dish to get the device to work.

Rating of the best TV boxes

Nomination Place Name Price

Best DVB-T2 TV Boxes

one

D-COLOR DC705HD

920 ₽

2

Cadena CDT-1651SB

1 064 ₽

3

HARPER HDT2-5010

1 464 ₽

four

LUMAX DV-3215HD

1 560 ₽

5

World Vision Foros Combo T2/S2

1 531 ₽

Best Android Smart TVs

one

Xiaomi Mi Box S

5 470 ₽

2

Ugoos X3 PRO

7 290 ₽

3

Google Chromecast with Google TV

7 780 ₽

Best Apple Smart TVs

one

Apple TV Gen4 32GB

13 909 ₽

2

Apple TV 4K 64GB

18 199 ₽

Best DVB-T2 TV Boxes

Despite the fact that many began to use modern technology, some users still have old-style TVs without a module for receiving a digital signal. Set-top boxes of the DVB T2 standard are necessary to receive additional channels by receiving this signal. Such devices differ in speed and functionality. More expensive models have the ability to record video and connect external media.

D-COLOR DC705HD

Rating: 4.4

D-COLOR DC705HD

First, consider an inexpensive model with which you can watch many channels in high quality on a regular TV. The prefix has a fairly user-friendly interface with which you can quickly install and configure the device.

This model is equipped with the ALi M3821 processor, which performs instant signal processing due to the built-in R386 tuner. The device can be called universal due to low power consumption and a wide range of settings.

The set-top box provides playback of TV programs in digital format – DVB-T and DVB-T2. HD-image output makes watching channels and video files much more comfortable. There are two connectors on the body of the device – HDMI and USB, with the help of which you can connect various video and audio equipment, smartphones and external drives to the set-top box. Various files can be played from the connected devices.

The model is equipped with the Time Shift function, which allows you to pause any broadcast and play it later from the stopped moment. The model comes with a remote control. Also, the set-top box has the ability to record broadcasts to external drives and supports an electronic TV guide. In addition to the above, this device performs the function of a media player, with which you can not only view movies recorded on a USB flash drive, but also listen to music.

The design of the case is made in a non-standard form – beveled edges in the form of a trapezoid make the device as modern as possible, and the compactness of the model allows you to place it in any convenient place.

Users often note the presence of the Time Shift function as a merit in this model, with which you can not only pause the content you are viewing, but also record it on external drives. Of the minuses, many note too little weight, because of the wires, the device often moves to the side.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the status “Verified user”: “I bought a set-top box to watch modern channels on an old TV. It works well, there is no distortion of the picture and sound, it suppresses noise and I liked the presence of a pause at any moment, on any channel.”

Advantages

  • powerful processor ALi M3821;

  • HD image output;

  • two connectors – HDMI and USB;

  • the model is equipped with the Time Shift function;

  • the presence of a remote control;

  • electronic TV guide.

Flaws

  • light and fragile body.

Cadena CDT-1651SB

Rating: 4.5

Cadena CDT-1651SB

Consider an inexpensive model made to view free DVB-T2 digital channels. The device is equipped with a highly sensitive tuner, which ensures a stable quality of the incoming signal. This set-top box is equipped with an LED display located on the front of the case, it displays the channel number and the current time. Also on the front panel of the device are control buttons and a USB 2.0 port.

To connect to a TV, the set-top box has an HDMI output, through which images in Full HD format are displayed on the screen. In addition to this input, you can use the RCA analog output to connect the model in question. The model has an electronic program guide, as well as a “favorites” section for adding your favorite radio stations and TV channels.

In addition, the device is equipped with the Time Shift function – the ability to pause the programs and movies you are watching. By connecting an external storage device to the USB port, you can record the content you are watching, as well as play audio files and images. Also, the set-top box has the ability to update the firmware both via a USB drive and via a direct connection.

Users often note in this model the possibility of two types of connection of the set-top box to the TV, as well as the presence of an LED screen showing current information. Of the minuses, users highlight a delay of several seconds when switching channels.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the status “Verified user”: “A good set-top box, I use it as a media player, I watch movies from a flash drive. I often record sports broadcasts, and after work I review them. Great features at a low cost.”

Advantages

  • the console is equipped with an LED display;

  • Full HD image;

  • you can use the analog RCA output;

  • the device is equipped with the Time Shift function;

  • has the ability to update the firmware;

  • low price.

Flaws

  • slight delay when switching channels.

Also Read: 8 Best DVB-T2 Digital Set-Top Boxes

HARPER HDT2-5010

Rating: 4.6

HARPER HDT2-5010

An external set-top box designed to watch digital TV channels of the DVB-T/T2 standard. This model is equipped with an MStar 7T01 processor, thanks to which it is able to receive broadcasts in SD, HD, FullHD broadcast formats.

To connect this model to a modern TV, there is an HDMI 1.3 port on the case, and if the TV does not have such a port (outdated models), an RCA output is provided, which also simply outputs images and sound.

The device has a USB 2.0 port to which you can connect a Wi-Fi module (sold separately) and external drives (it is possible to connect drives with a capacity of up to 1 TB and the FAT/FAT32 or NTFS file system). If you connect a Wi-Fi module to the set-top box, you can take advantage of a wide range of opportunities – you can access Youtube and IPTV.

The case of the console is quite compact and is made of metal. The device is equipped with an LED display and supports the functions of a universal media player, decoding most codecs such as DivX, Xvid, and MPEG. The model comes with a remote control.

Users emphasize in this model the possibility of using a large number of video formats when viewing. Also, in addition to the standard functions that many set-top boxes have, users noted the ability to connect a Wi-Fi module, with which you can fully use the Internet through this device. Of the minuses, the color is too sharp on the display of the set-top box.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the status “Verified user”: “Immediately I bought a set-top box, I bought a module for it to access the Internet, now I watch YouTube on the old TV and listen to music from social networks.”

Advantages

  • the model is equipped with an MStar 7T01 processor;

  • two ports for connecting to both new and old TVs;

  • you can connect a Wi-Fi module;

  • equipped with LED display;

  • remote control included;

  • you can connect drives up to 1 TB.

Flaws

  • red numbers on the display create discomfort.

LUMAX DV-3215HD

Rating: 4.7

LUMAX DV-3215HD

Next, we will consider a model of a digital TV receiver, popular on the Russian market, equipped with such applications as “LUMAX Cinema” and “Megogo Online Cinema”. An additional advantage of this set-top box is the ability to connect to any TV model, as well as accurate reception of a digital signal of the DVB-T2 / C standard. The media player installed in this device plays a large number of popular formats, including MKV, AVI, MP4, MOV, JPEG, GIF, PNG and many others.

This model is equipped with an application specially developed for this set-top box – MeeCast, which allows you to transfer files from mobile devices to the TV screen. The set-top box is equipped with Dolby Digital Plus technology to provide 5.1 multi-channel audio and enhanced audio file recording quality. It is also possible to view video with the effect of “sound around”. The set-top box is capable not only of decoding standard digital TV broadcasting formats, but also for the stable operation of the proprietary Smart shell.

This universal model has 2 USB connectors on the case, to which you can connect two external media at the same time. You can also connect a proprietary Wi-Fi module (sold separately) and a 3G modem to access the Internet to this device, which allows you to watch YouTube and use popular applications.

The body of this device is made of Stealth metal and has three control buttons on the front. The model comes with a remote control equipped with the ability to remember commands and synchronize with the TV.

Users distinguish in this model the presence of their own proprietary applications with the possibility of expanding functionality. Also excellent advantage of the device was high-quality sound and the ability to connect additional modules. Of the minuses, users note that after a long work, you need to restart the set-top box – it starts to slow down.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the status “Verified user”: “For moviegoers, an ideal budget option, built-in applications are enough to watch new movies and to watch additional channels. I was also pleased with the intelligent remote control.”

Advantages

  • proprietary applications;

  • plays almost all formats;

  • Dolby Digital Plus technology;

  • video with surround sound effect;

  • 2 USB connectors;

  • you can connect a Wi-Fi module and a 3G modem;

  • remote control with memory commands.

Flaws

  • sometimes you need to restart so that applications do not slow down.

World Vision Foros Combo T2/S2

Rating: 4.8

WORLD VISION FOROS COMBO T2/S2

Lastly, consider a universal set-top box equipped with a productive GX6605 processor. This device supports receiving satellite TV broadcasts in DVB-S/S2, T2-MI standard for digital TV networks, and is also equipped with an over-the-air cable tuner to support DVB-T/T2 digital channels and cable DVB-C.

To perform a quick connection with the set-top box, it is possible to set up using a special application – DVB Finder, which is installed on an Android-based mobile device. An Internet connection is provided due to an external USB Wi-Fi module, which significantly expands the functionality and provides access to such popular resources as an IPTV player, MEGOGO online movie service and Weather.

The case of this model has two USB 2.0 connectors, as well as an LED display with information about connected devices, etc. The control buttons are also located on the front. As for the connection of audio and video signals, it is possible through the HDMI output. Also, the device has an external power supply with a voltage of 12V. And a remote control for comfortable control of all functions.

Users distinguish in this model the presence of a proprietary application that sets up synchronization with the set-top box. Also, if the Internet is available in this model, it is possible to expand functions to use popular resources. Of the minuses, a strong heating of the console was noted.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the status “Verified user”: “An excellent TV set-top box with a wide range of features. I bought it for myself and my friends, we have been using it for several months and have never failed. The module for the Internet is connected to the set-top box, now all applications are in the public domain.

Advantages

  • special application DVB Finder;

  • connection to the wireless Internet;

  • access to IPTV player and MEGOGO is possible;

  • there is an LED display;

  • two USB connectors installed;

  • the presence of a remote control.

Flaws

  • this model heats up quickly.

Best Android Smart TVs

In recent years, watching various video content over the Internet has gained great popularity, mainly YouTube videos, movies in online applications, etc., but not all TVs support the Smart function. The way out of this situation was the possibility of acquiring Smart-TV set-top boxes that work on the basis of Android and open up the opportunity to turn a TV into a full-fledged media player with all the useful functions.

Also Read: 12 Best Smart TV Apps

Xiaomi Mi Box S

Rating: 4.7

Xiaomi Mi Box S

First, let’s look at the model that the engineers worked on using the possibility of saving resources. Compared to the previous set-top box of this type, many elements have been simplified and the Android 8.1 TV operating system has been installed in the device.

This model processes video with a resolution of 1920 × 1080 without errors and braking. The power of the set-top box is enough for games from cloud resources. It is also possible to expand the memory through external drives.

The set-top box can be connected to the network and external devices using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi modules. With the help of a wireless connection, you can fully control the set-top box. There is also voice control from a fairly long distance. To do this, using a special button, Google Assistant is launched. It is possible to install third-party applications using apk technology. Some of them can be controlled using a computer mouse, which can also be connected to the set-top box.

This model decodes audio files in 5.1 multi-channel format using DTS and Dolby Digital standards, which contribute to the absence of delays and other distortions. The device is equipped with an HDMI 2 0b output and produces an image with a maximum pixel count of 1920×1080. The model is equipped with a noise reduction system and converting HDR materials for viewing on the screen of the SDR category.

Users note in this model the possibility of voice control and a fairly high-quality picture. Also, the model allows you to play through this console without braking. Of the minuses, users highlight the presence of only one USB port, which became a problem when connecting additional adapters.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the status “Verified user”: “Great set-top box, I use it every day, it doesn’t slow down even after being used as a game console. Surprised that it doesn’t get hot. Convenient remote control and quickly responds to voice commands.

Advantages

  • operating system Android 8.1 TV;

  • processes video with a resolution of 1920 × 1080;

  • there is voice control;

  • installation of third-party applications is possible;

  • equipped with HDMI 2 0b output;

  • equipped with a noise suppression system.

Flaws

  • one USB port.

Ugoos X3 PRO

Rating: 4.8

Ugoos X3 PRO

An Android TV set-top box is able to expand the possibilities of home television by watching video files of various formats on it, by accessing the Internet via a Wi-Fi connection, playing games and launching useful applications. The device is equipped with Amlogic S905X3 processor which boosts performance and Mali-G31 MP2 GPU which has shown strong results in independent tests. HDR+ support ensures high image quality.

This model is a small rectangle with a bright border. A distinctive feature of the device was the lack of a display on the front of the case, which is typical for other models. In place of the screen, there is a slot for a memory card, a USB port and a ventilation grill for cooling components.

On the side of the body of the set-top box there are connectors for connecting additional devices. The model is equipped with ports such as a power supply connector, SV and AV ports, and there is also an HDMI port for connecting to a TV. The set-top box is equipped with a removable antenna, which the engineers placed at the back of the device. In addition, on the back there is an SPDIF connector for connecting audio equipment and a LAN output for connecting an Internet connection.

This model allows you to view video files in all popular formats, including 4K and Full HD quality. The function of watching movies and programs in 3D is also thought out. And thanks to the dual-band Wi-Fi module installed in the console, you can watch movies and play games online without complaints and delays.

The amount of RAM in this model is 4 GB, and as for the internal memory, it is 32 GB. If desired, internal memory can be increased by connecting an additional memory card. In this console, you can install games, store various files and install applications. It is possible to download new and technologically demanding applications and games to the console, this is facilitated by the Android 9.0 operating system.

Users highlight in this model the ability to watch movies and programs in 3D. Also, a functional ventilation grill, which noticeably cools the set-top box, has become an excellent addition. Of the minuses, users highlight the rather short HDMI cable that comes with the kit.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the “Verified user” status: “A set-top box with a large number of functions, after installation you can forget about additional devices and fully use the set-top box, the main thing is that the Internet always works. In addition to performance, I was pleased with the ability to watch movies in 3D.”

Advantages

  • viewing in 3D format;

  • ventilation grill for cooling;

  • the set-top box is equipped with many ports;

  • LAN output for Internet connection;

  • built-in Wi-Fi module;

  • 4K and Full HD quality;

  • internal memory can be increased.

Flaws

  • short HDMI cable.

Google Chromecast with Google TV

Rating: 4.9

GOOGLE CHROMECAST C GOOGLE TV

Last in the review, we will consider a multifunctional and modern model of a media player for streaming. This device is based on the Android 10 operating system and can also be synchronized with smartphones and laptops running on IOS.

All applications and games for this model are available from the Play Market or third-party sources. The prefix has a built-in memory of 8 GB. The miniature device is connected to the TV via the HDMI connector. Power is supplied to it via the USB C port.

With built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi, you can connect to the Internet instantly and uninterrupted. High-quality components allow you to play video files with a resolution of 3840×2160. Also, the device is equipped with Dolby Digital Plus sound technology.

The set-top box comes with a small remote control with a “pad”, a button for launching a voice assistant, as well as launching YouTube and Netflix platforms. With this remote control, you can control not only the set-top box, but also the TV itself, after synchronizing them with each other.

This Smart Player stands out for its fast and user-friendly interface, support for popular streaming services, high performance and compact size. The set-top box comes with a cable with USB Type-C and Type-A connectors, which is designed to power the model, as well as a small power supply.

Users highlight in this model the possibility of using various streaming services that are already preinstalled in this model. Also worth noting is the high quality of the picture and sound. Despite the excellent quality and many useful features, many note that the disadvantage of this model was its high price.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the status “Verified user”: “Great mini set-top box. I ordered it when it was not yet sold in Russia, it works quickly, does not interfere and does not take up space. Lots of installed apps and the ability to use the remote control as a smart assistant.”

Advantages

  • the ability to synchronize with any device;

  • USB-C powered;

  • built-in Wi-Fi module;

  • Dolby Digital Plus sound technology;

  • remote control with “pad”;

  • voice control;

  • the ability to control the TV using the remote control;

  • support for popular streaming services.

Flaws

  • high price.

Best Apple Smart TVs

These set-top boxes, as well as models running on other operating systems, serve to expand the capabilities that not all TVs are equipped with. Apple devices integrate modern online services into the TV, including broadcasting any content from iCloud. In addition, set-top boxes can be directly controlled from mobile devices and for video conferencing.

See also: 8 best satellite dishes

Apple TV Gen4 32GB

Rating: 4.8

Apple TV Gen4 32GB

Consider a multimedia network TV set-top box from the popular Apple company, which is designed to display the content of the Apple TV branded service, iTunes, as well as files from other devices. The model is based on the Apple A8 platform, equipped with a powerful processor, 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal memory. Power VR GX6450 graphics subsystem contributes to high gaming performance.

The model is equipped with an automatic cooling system, which prevents failures during prolonged use. In addition to the iTunes internet service, this device also supports Apple Music with subscription integration, online movie theater from Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Showtime.

The prefix is ​​equipped with a voice assistant Siri. Also, for convenience, this model is equipped with a Bluetooth 4.0 module. The Apple TV Remote has a touchpad and has all the features of a game controller, while the interactive surface acts as a virtual motion control pad. The remote control has a Lightning connector for charging.

In addition to the built-in Wi-Fi module, network connection is possible via the Ethernet LAN port. And with the help of Bluetooth 4.0, you can connect a wireless keyboard to the set-top box. In addition to all of the above, this device has access to the AppStore with the ability to install almost any game. Wireless communication is also possible via AirPlay, due to which file transfer occurs instantly.

Users highlight in this model the ability to fully control the game processor using the remote control without the need to purchase an additional controller. A definite plus was the presence of built-in modules for wireless connection. Of the minuses, users highlight a small amount of memory, which is difficult to expand without connecting adapters and external media.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the “Verified User” status: “This device has become an indispensable gaming console with a wide range of features. In addition to the smart remote, I was pleased with the ability to connect a keyboard and a computer mouse, with which you can not only work in applications and play games, but also watch video files.”

Advantages

  • graphics subsystem Power VR GX6450;

  • Internet service iTunes;

  • equipped with a voice assistant Siri;

  • smart remote control Apple TV Remote;

  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules;

  • communication via AirPlay is possible.

Flaws

  • small amount of memory.

Apple TV 4K 64GB

Rating: 4.9

APPLE TV 4K 64GB

The last one to consider is the fifth generation network multimedia player from Apple, which is designed for high-quality content output to a TV. The prefix is ​​adapted for synchronization with all devices of this brand. Unlike the previous version, this model supports image output as UltraHD and 4K-stream with increased frame rate. In addition, high dynamic range (HDR) video is fully played.

It is worth noting the work and high-quality stream output in the professional HDR Dolby Vision format. The prefix runs under the proprietary operating system tvOS. The device provides access to the AppStore store and you can install games for their comfortable passage using a convenient and multifunctional remote control or game controller, which is purchased separately.

The basis of this smart TV set-top box is the A10X Fusion platform, which includes a powerful six-core processor, 3 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal memory. The device is also equipped with a powerful graphics subsystem – Power VR GX 7600. It supports a set of latest 3D imaging technologies and provides high gaming performance.

The built-in Wi-Fi module is responsible for wireless connections, and the presence of an Ethernet LAN connector makes it possible to connect the set-top box to a cable network. There is also a built-in Bluetooth 5.0 module for connecting a wireless keyboard or various devices.

Users appreciate the enhanced performance and high image quality of this TV box. Also, compared to the previous model, the built-in memory is doubled here, which allows you to store files not only in the cloud, but also on the set-top box itself. Of the minuses, many note the lack of the ability to watch movies from flash drives by connecting to a USB port.

From the review of a Yandex.Market user with the status “Verified user”: “This set-top box has replaced my laptop. It is enough to purchase a keyboard and you can work with the remote control and keyboard by connecting to the Internet, watching movies or listening to music at the same time and not worry about failures in the system – they simply do not happen here.

Advantages

  • image output as UltraHD and 4K stream;

  • access to the App Store;

  • multifunctional remote control;

  • 6 core processor;

  • built-in memory of 64 GB;

  • built-in Wi-Fi module;

  • 3D imaging technology.

Flaws

  • you can not watch movies from flash drives.