As a set -top box (English for top positioning box, abbreviated as STB, also called set-top box ) is in the consumer electronics a device called that to another - is connected and thus offers the user additional uses - usually a TV. The English name is due to the fact that such a device is often placed on the other.


There are basically three types of add-on devices:

Some types of STBs communicate with each other and do not need for at least some of their functions, the basic unit (eg recording of separate satellite receiver).

The key provided via STBs skills are playing media (VHS, DVD, etc.) that are possibly interactive ( game consoles ), the recording received data and the program reception on alternative transmission paths (satellite, internet) or method (digital, encrypted ). Many initially provided only STBs functions - particularly active - be later ( often optional) directly integrated into the main unit. So there is TV with integrated VHS or DVD drives or DVB reception part ( s).

Rather exotic STBs are those that receive data from weather stations and graphically display, or those which provide an at least basic Internet access via the TV. Even external promotional filter and home automation controls there. Others, such as teletext decoder or UHF converter, are now extinct.


A small selection of known or exemplary STBs:

  • D- box - digital receiver from DF1/Nokia
  • Dreambox - HDD STB with a network connection from Dream Multimedia
  • Mediabox the multimedia operating company ( MMBG )
  • ReelBox
  • TiVo - PVR ( only in the USA and the UK)
  • SNES, Playstation, X-Box - Video game consoles
  • Apple TV
  • Met @ box


There are several types of interfaces to connect STBs with televisions and recorders. A classical universal method is the use of a UHF modulator that generates a private TV channel, which is transmitted through a coaxial antenna cable. In Europe, the French SCART connection the most important analog connector and protocol type, as well as S- video has had great importance. Audio inputs and outputs are often implemented as RCA sockets or plugs. In addition, there are often S / PDIF outputs for digital audio transmission. For the digital image and data transfer, the industry relies on DVI, Firewire (also known as i.Link or IEEE 1394), Ethernet, SDI, HD- SDI and HDMI, the latter five standards also provide embedded audio. In the consumer segment, HDMI is the most widely used interface.

Development path

One or more set- top boxes are classic to, subsequently upgraded an expensive object, such as a TV with missing features, so that the new acquisition may be delayed. Since each additional set- top box makes the interaction for the user complex, is the most common function of set- top boxes, to integrate the natural development path in the main subject. For example, today's TVs that have many features that have made necessary a few years ago a number of set- top boxes. The user benefits from this not only that he can control it all with a remote control, a status indicator and a menu, but especially that hard -to-learn Modiwechsel be reduced, and it has to configure only one device.


In the operation of set- top boxes for television reception ( digital receiver, satellite receiver) to conventional televisions, video and DVD recorders with terrestrial television receiver section there are some limitations:

  • Basically, you automatically required to control another device, an additional remote control. About Universal Remotes can be true after appropriate configuration control most basic functions of the devices, but special operating procedures require usually remain the basis remotes for all devices.
  • Conventional video recorder does not provide the ability to automatically select the set- top box program. Receiver and DVR must be operated or programmed independently.
  • TVs that are dependent on the playback of receiver set -top boxes, are degraded to simple monitors. Special functions such as channel preview and advanced teletext functions are regularly lost and are replaced by the capacity of the receiving device. Users of older television sets that are equipped with no or bad teletext, however, may experience an added value to information, if teletext is integrated in DVB receivers. The mobility is limited by portable devices, if in addition a set- top box is required.

Many of these problems are due to the fact that conventional television at the beginning of the digitization had only analog tuners, and were not prepared for the DVB -T reception. As part of the general conversion to DVB ( analog PAL technology existed when satellite television in Germany until 30 April 2012) is now being offered an increasing number of televisions with integrated (partially modular ) DVB reception parts; for the reception of DVB programs are hard disk recorder with DVB reception part available.