TV Tuner for Projector Reviews: What Should You Look for Specifically?

The TV tuner with coaxial connection is a device used by projectors, PCs, and TVs with their own bunny-ear antennas to get terrestrial or broadcast (free) TV station signals. In the case of TVs, they’re used mainly to boost their signal or reception capabilities.

With projectors, the TV tuner is the only way for it to receive TV signals since it can’t mirror the TV antenna connection of a Cathode-Ray Tube (CRT) TV. In the case of HDTVs, mirroring is possible, but only if both the projector and the HDTV are smart devices.

You may also like: How to Connect Projector to TV Antenna

TV tuner for projector reviews

We recommend the Mediasonic ATSC Digital Converter Box specifically. Long story short, even though the MediaSonic HW130STB has a barebones instruction manual that doesn’t do a good job explaining its wealth of features, its features are still there and ripe for tinkering.

Mediasonic ATSC Digital Converter Box with Recording / Media Player / TV Tuner Function (HW130STB)
Mediasonic ATSC Digital Converter Box with Recording / Media Player / TV Tuner Function (HW130STB)

 

We were able to discover image or screen settings, channel search, recording functions, recording playback, easy setup, and so forth on a device that easily hooks up to any HDTV, PC, or projector as long as they have an HDMI port (and what device doesn’t have HDMI ports at this point in time?).

Here are the reasons why in tabulated form.

ProsCons
●  Supports USB flash drives with at least 32 GB of memory.

● You can automatically scan channels by pressing the Menu button and selecting the Channel Search.

● You can record footage on your flash drive by pushing the EPG button and selecting a channel.

● You can set the time of recording as immediately or once, daily, and weekly.

● Relatively easy to setup. Just hook up the coaxial cable to the tuner and the HDMI cable (not included) to the TV.

● Manual isn’t that helpful.

● Some units have poor video quality, according to (a minority of) users.

What to Look for in TV Tuners 101

The main appeal of TV tuners as far as projectors are concerned is that they act like the bunny-ear TV antennas of your classic TV set or the more advanced digital antenna you plug into your HDTV. Sure, in the 2020s, TVs have abandoned antennas and embraced hookups to cable or satellite boxes.

However, when searching for TV tuners, you’ll be offered options such as NTSC, SECAM, clear QAM/ATSC, and the like. Some even offer both optios and FM radio. They’re set up in order to get connected to an antenna via coaxial cable.

Differences Between NTSC and PAL (and SECAM)

Phase Alternating Line (PAL) is an analog era color encoding system used in places like the European Union or Western Europe (such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and Germany) and Asia (most of it except Japan and the Philippines), and so forth.

Germany developed PAL and it was originally adopted by Western Europe. The first countries to broadcast TV using PAL were the U.K. and West Germany in 1967.   The Séquentiel Couleur à Mémoire (SECAM) or Sequential Color with Memory is an analog color TV system first used in France.

SECAM was adopted by the U.S.S.R., Russia, or Eastern Europe. SECAM is the first European color TV standard. NTSC is the North and Central American analog system adopted by the U.S. and Canada as well as Japan and the Philippines in Asia.

The New Standards of ATSC and QAM

The analog TV standards have been phased out. Everything is digital now. Your projector will best get broadcast TV using the ATSC standard. Just remember that QAM is the basic cable box for unencrypted cable signals while ATSC is for current broadcasted digital free TV.

QAM is more about using digital TV or digital projector. QAM tuners can turn your projector into an analog TV or have analog TV features. As long as you can establish that coaxial connection to a roof antenna, you’re good to go.

In regards to NTSC, it’s about bringing a TV and letting it work as-is. NTSC is the North American broadcasting standard while Asia and Western Europe use PAL instead. Other areas like Russia and Eastern Europe use SECAM.

What Is ATSC?

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) is the group that replaced the National Television Standard Committee (NTSC) in the USA in 1982. ATSC is the “Over-the-Air” broadcast signal standard in the U.S., which is what MediaSonic offers.

It’s better than the old NTSC analog system used by CRT TVs of yore. It’s capable of delivering HDTV-quality pictures now available in the airwaves of free broadcast TV. The catch, of course, is that you’ll be viewing hours of commercials in HD too.

The image provided by ATSC is in widescreen format, which should be apparent when you try out the MediaSonic TV Tuner on your projector and see how clear a pixel-dense picture can really be. It even captures theater-quality audio like those you can hear from Dolby Surround Sound.

You need a converter to use ATSC with an analog TV, mostly to downgrade or downscale the picture. In the fact of your

What Is QAM?

The Quadrature Amplitude Modification (QAM) standard is designed for OTC broadcast signal. It’s not related to the coaxial connection for cable boxes. It’s designed to get several additional channels by having this feature, depending on what’s being broadcasted in your city, country, or area.

If ATSC is the HD version of NTSC, then QAM is the cable version of ATSC. QAM tuners enable your television set to receive unencrypted digital signals from your cable provider. The cable box is the one that receives the encrypted signals.

It’s the basic cable box versus your cable provider’s cable box. You can use QAM tuner for your local cable channels. You need a cable card and cable box for the premium channels though.

What MediaSonic Brings to the Table

On top of turning your projector into your own CRT-style TV that displays free broadcast or terrestrial TV, MediaSonic goes above and beyond by also doubling as a TV program recorder like a VCR or TiVo for free TV.

It can play recordings from your USB. You simply need to select the PVR icon, select HBPVR, and then select the recorded program. Make the recorded program (which appears on the side of the screen at first) by pushing the HOLD button.

An hour’s worth of TV recordings from this TV tuner equals 6 gigabytes. The remote has Play, Pause, Fast Forward, and Rewind functions for the recordings. Its Picture icon allows you to set your screen size. You can set the time zone as well.

Turn Your Projector into an HDTV with Over-the-Air Digital Broadcast TV Tuner

MediaSonic is your best bet in turning your projector into an HDTV because it’s among the best OTA digital broadcast TV tuner in 2021. It features compatibility with modern projectors as well as computers, digital smart TVs, analog CRT TVs, and so forth.

  • Projector TV Tuner: The MediaSonic HW130STB can turn a CRT TV into a modern TV that can take in digital broadcast signals in the clearest possible quality. However, the main thing this guide is interested in is how MediaSonic blows the competition away as a projector TV tuner.
  • Receiver for OTA Content: If your display device, like a projector or PC monitor, doesn’t have a TV tuner, use the MediaSonic HW130STB specifically because the TV tuner can serve as your OTA TV channel receiver.
  • Outputs and Basic Features: It comes with features like antenna coax output, analog pass-through, favorite channels list, and parental controls. Additionally, it has Timing Startup and Shut Down, Auto Tuning, and outputs for 1080p HDMI, coaxial, and composite A/V.
  • Also Doubles as a Recorder: As you use this TV tuner to turn your projector into a widescreen HDTV, you can also use its recording functions in order to save digital broadcasted content, commercials, and all, unto your USB flash drive a la TiVo or similar tech.
  • Real-Time Recording: You can record hours and hours of programming using a USB 2.0 connection on an external hard disk drive (up to 2TB of space in the MBR format) or USB flash drive.
  • USB Port and Functionality: Its Universal Serial Bus port is for the USB drive for saving TV recordings. Its multimedia function for its USB connection allows saving video, photos, and music as well as video playback features care of a USB stick, thumb drive, or flash disk.
  • Easy Installation: Just hook up the MediaSonic ATSC TV tuner to your projector via coaxial, composite A/V, or HDMI port. Meanwhile, the box itself should be hooked up to your roof antenna through a coaxial connection or similar structure to capture those digital signals.

The Bottom Line

The tuner is typically connected to a larger antenna installed at the roof or perimeter wall of your home to actually receive the best signals possible. It also acts quite like a cable or satellite box, except this time it mostly gets broadcasted paid channel signals instead of advertiser-paid free TV.

Even though broadcast TV is falling on the wayside due to the proliferation of alternative entertainment sources like the Internet, social media, cable TV, online streaming from Netflix and Hulu, and so forth, it pays to have a TV tuner available to enjoy classic broadcast TV on the big screen.

References:

  1. Paul Goodman, “Understanding the Difference Between NTSC, ATSC, and QAM“, December 20, 2020
  2. What should I look for in a TV Tuner?“, SuperUser.com, August 18, 2010
  3. Mediasonic ATSC Digital Converter Box“, Amazon.com, Retrieved April 6, 2021
James Core
I write dozens of helpful informational articles based on topics that I have identified again and again throughout my research and work experience. I am here to help you find the right projector.

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