What to Consider When Choosing the Set-top Box?

If you have decided on bringing the internet and all its wares straight to a person’s IPTV, then you are probably looking to invest in a set-top box for your business. While this is a good decision, the hard part lies in which one you choose to sell. There are already multiple affordable set-top boxes available on the market today, and even more so, at an initial glance, many of these options are somewhat identical. 

To pick a set-top unit is to find a balance between its features and its content, and as such, the right choice will be what you consider the best fit for your customers. 

In this article, the goal is to inform you as a reader of the different things to consider when choosing the perfect set-top box.

What Is a Set-top Box?

To put it as simply as possible, an IPTV set-top box is an information appliance device that acts as an enabler so that a TV can collect and decrypt digital television (DTV) broadcasts. In other words, it contains a TV-turner input that turns an external source signal into video content from video providers that will be displayed on a television screen or another display device. It is important to say that an IPTV set-top box can combine the functions of an IPTV encoder or an IPTV Middleware. 

To simplify the further understanding of the article, we will use the phrases “IPTV encoder,” “IPTV Middleware,” and “set-top box” as synonyms. 

Why Is a Set-top Box Important?

The primary purpose of an IPTV encoder is its ability to stream television series and movies. A set-top box is considered the main entry into a digital home for TV services. It is a device that has evolved far beyond its historical role of being a big, black box that sat above a television set.

It is now considered a smaller multi-functional device for interactive television applications. A worldwide phenomenon among service providers has been to upgrade their equipment in such a way, so they can support the move from analog television towards digital television. The high penetration in the market involving digital television subscriptions is ultimately what is driving the deployment of set-top boxes. If you are reading this article, then you have probably already identified this demand.

Four Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Set-top Box

Since there is no single IPTV encoder that offers it all; you as a reader have to decide what features would matter the most to your customers when they choose which IPTV middleware they want to invest in. Some of the things to consider are:

1. High Definition (HD) or Standard Definition (SD)

What’s the difference, you ask? A vital part of any viewer’s streaming experiences lies in their video quality. Objects and faces that are pixelated or blurry images can detract from the enjoyment of streaming their favorite movies and television series.

Therefore, if you are considering the ins and outs of different IPTV encoders, then it is useful to know about video resolution. More specifically, video resolution regarding the high definition and standard definition and how it impacts the quality of streamed content.

The dominant differences that exist between HD and SD streaming lie in both the video quality and the bandwidth required to stream. As such, HD offers a video quality that is superior but requires more bandwidth, while SD offers a reduced video quality but requires less bandwidth than that of high-definition streaming.

In most instances, you will find that the best television set-top boxes can receive HD channels, but not all of them can, and some will only give you access to channels at standard definition. Customers will only be able to invest in set-top boxes that match their available bandwidth.

2. Hard Drive

When deciding on the best IPTV middleware, the presence of a featured built-in hard drive will be dependent on whether or not your clients plan on recording their television shows.

When this is the case, you should provide the option of choosing between storage space of 500GB, 1TB, or 2TB. To put this into perspective, on a hard drive containing 500GB of storage space, you can record a total of 125 hours of HD shows or 300 hours of SD shows. If a client requires more recording hours, then they must opt for the other options that have more storage space, and you as the provider need to have these available.

3. Television Streaming Services

Television streaming services vary from set-top box to set-top box. An IPTV middleware will be rendered useless to your customers if it does not help them find the content they want to watch. Being able to find a perfect combination of services and channels for your customer, however, proves to be a difficult task.

As already mentioned, you are not going to find a set-top box that has everything you are looking for. Some IPTV middleware will only offer major catch-up services, while others will go on to include subscription-based apps like Netflix, HBO Go, and Hulu Plus.

4. Internet Connection

IPTV encoders that provide online streaming for television shows without the need for an extra device will require a strong internet connection. Therefore, most set-top boxes should feature an ethernet port that will allow a cable to run from an internet router to a set-top box.

The problem comes in when the router is in a different room to the set-top box, which will require customers to trial cables throughout their home. Nevertheless, there is a solution, which would be to invest in a set-top box that offers Wi-Fi, so it can be placed at a distance away from any internet router.

With the above in mind, this is exactly why a stable internet connection is considered one of the utmost important things to consider when choosing an IPTV middleware that will fit into a home environment without the need for major home modifications.

The Bottom Line

While it may seem very overwhelming to think of all the things you need to consider when choosing the best set-top box, if you take into consideration the simple yet efficient tips above, you will make your buying and selling decision a whole lot easier.

As such, any business that plans on selling a set-top box to end-users should be very considerate in their choice of partner. This article very much emphasizes the difficulties customers would face when having to decide on a set-top box, and as a business, you would want to minimize this to the best of your abilities.

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