What Is the Purpose of a TV Converter Box?

By Melissa Worcester

A TV converter box can convert digital TV to analog.
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Converter boxes have become important in the wake of the switch to digital broadcasting. Essentially, if the type of signal your TV shows are broadcast in is not one that your TV set will receive, you need some kind of converter box to convert the signal. This might be a digital-to-analog converter box or a cable TV converter box. There are several reasons why you might need one of these devices.

Digital vs. Analog TV

TV stations switched from analog to digital broadcasting in June of 2009. This means that TV signals broadcast over the air and received via antenna changed to a digital signal, which, while being more efficient, will not work if you have an analog TV. Many people chose to get new TVs leading up to the switch, especially since more and more models of flatscreen TVs became available at about the same time, and because high definition TVs also becoming popular. But for those yet to make the switch and still using an analog TV can obtain a digital TV receiver/converter box and, if not already in place, an antenna to watch TV.

Ways to Receive TV Shows

Those who receive TV from a cable TV company or a satellite dish provider are unaffected by the change, since their TV signal is not broadcast over the air. Another way to receive TV shows is over the Internet. There are converter boxes, such as the Roku or Boxee boxes, that convert Internet TV and other Internet videos so they can be shown on a TV set.

Converter vs. Tuner

The digital TV converter is sometimes called an HDTV converter. This is not the same thing as an HDTV tuner. A converter, a relatively inexpensive device, converts over-the-air digital signals to analog signals used by older analog TVs. An HDTV tuner is more expensive and it will output a digital signal to be used by a digital TV. Some tuners have both digital and analog output, meaning they are technically both a converter and a tuner.

How to Install

You need to have an antenna that receives TV signals. Depending on where your home is located with respect to the broadcast towers of the nearest TV stations, you may need an antenna on the roof or just on top of or near your TV. Connect a coaxial cable to the antenna and the other end of it to your input connector on the back of the digital TV converter box. Use another coaxial cable to connect the output of the converter box to the input connector on the back of your TV set.