So many TV solutions to choose from between cable, dsl and satellite providers. However, people always seem to forget about OTA (over the air). Paid TV isn’t your only option, no matter what the providers tell you. All of your local channels plus a handful more you may have never even heard are waiting for you and don’t cost you a monthly cent.
We have spoke about this before in writing about how you can ditch these expensive providers and make use of what’s floating around in the air for free. Now it’s time to highlight it again thanks to the HomeWorx HW180STB HDTV Digital Converter Box by Mediasonic. This is a channel box and DVR solution for those who make use of the OTA world. It allows you to receive these channels if your TV doesn’t have a digital tuner (although almost every TV available now does), and function as your faux cable box (tuner), while passing the signal (up to 1080p) to your TV via HDMI.
One benefit of this (for everyone) is that it also acts as a powered amplifier. So if the antenna you use isn’t quite strong enough, this will help a little in the mix. On top of that, it is capable of passing 5.1 digital sound to your receiver as well (assuming it’s in-line and you are using it as your switching source).
One of the most unique benefits is the ability to attach a USB thumb drive or external hard drive to record your favorite TV shows, turning it into an OTA DVR device.
Locally here, any time we test something using OTA, we typically get 68-72 channels because of the antenna we use for testing. Throwing this in the mix means you now have the ability to record anything you want on those 68-72 channels. Not a bad deal for something you don’t have to pay monthly for, especially when 1/4 of those channels come in as HD. Of course, how many channels you actually receive depends on where you live, the strength of their broadcast, the distance between you and their broadcast source and the antenna you are using.
It supports up to 64GB on a thumb drive and up to 2TB using an external hard drive, so that you can watch your shows at your own leisure. You can pause, fast forward and rewind through all of your content. Even better, the same USB port can be used for media playback of movies and images you place on your drive.
On the back, you will find an RF out (coax for pass through), HDMI out, and RCA out. There is no optical out, so if you want 5.1 sound, you have to use HDMI. Also something to keep in mind is that it does not come with an HDMI cable. It comes with an RCA cable only.