Hey, does anyone still use converter boxes?

Yeah, you remember converter boxes. Back in 2007-2008, the government issued $50 certificates to every household so they could buy special boxes that would let their existing TVs work with the new digital broadcast standards.

2008 may seem like a long time ago, and maybe you think no one uses converter boxes anymore. Actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth. First of all, there are still millions of tube TVs doing yeoman duty in garages and spare rooms throughout this great land of ours. Each one needs a converter box if it’s going to work with an antenna, and since these TVs aren’t used every day, it’s a pretty safe bet people aren’t paying extra rental fees to the cable company for them. That means that there are plenty of TVs out there that need converter boxes.

There was a real rush back in the last decade to get converter boxes that could be retail priced below that $50 point, and the sad truth of that statement… is that most of them weren’t really well made. The chances are excellent that if you do have a TV that needs one of these boxes, you are on the second or third one, and you’ve figured out that SolidSignal.com is one of the few places you’ll find a good selection of them.

One of my personal favorite converter boxes is the 3500STB you see in the picture above. Even though it’s priced really competitively, it does tricks that other converter boxes won’t. It outputs full HD so you can still use it with a newer TV, or even turn a monitor into a TV.

Why would you need a converter box if you have a newer TV? Two reasons. First of all, the tuner in the 3500STB is excellent and most newer TVs have pretty weak tuners. It’s a sad but true statement that TV makers cut costs wherever they can. Second, and this is really more important, the 3500STB isn’t just a converter box. Add a hard drive — pretty much any USB hard drive — and it becomes a full-featured DVR and media player. You can even record things on it and then move them to your computer for permanent safekeeping. That’s something most cable and satellite DVRs won’t even let you do.

So, if you thought converter boxes went out of style about the time people stopped singing “Viva La Vida” at the top of their lungs when no one’s looking… you couldn’t be further off if you tried. Like Coldplay, converter boxes are still with us but maybe just not as popular as they used to be. Along the way, they’ve learned some new tricks, and maybe that’s enough to make you take a second look.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.