Having a cable TV connection has become a thing of the past. The option of watching movies online by downloading them on your laptop is both time consuming also the viewing experience is spoilt.

Moving on to the cable service providers think of the innumerable tantrums that they throw, the price you pay and the unsatisfactory service that you receive, in such a case switching over to set-top box or a DTH is the best solution you have.

Set-top box Vs DTH

Set-top box – here the content is distributed by the local cable operators, which is to an extent similar to the conventional cable connection except that it supports better picture quality, selective plans and options for channels.

It has a lot more content that can be shared via digital signals which are received using a set top box through a cable.

The main disadvantage is that you will have to deal with the same cable operator that probably throws a lot of tantrums. Moreover, if the network goes down it can stay so for a long time and its maintenance depends on the service provider.

DTH is an acronym for Direct-to- home.

The major differentiating factor between DTH and set-top box is that DTH does not need a local cable operator and there is no need of a cable.

A DTH box has a receiver, modulator, a multiplexer, satellite and a broadcasting centre. The DTH emits an encrypted signal that is received directly by the consumer from the satellite.

The set top box is then used to decode the encrypted signal that was received.

So what are the features that give satellite TV an edge over the conventional broadcasting system?

Channels of your choice
You get the option to pick the channels of your interest and pay only for those. This becomes an issue for immigrants especially when their spoken language differs from the state they live in.
Live TV
from sports to your favourite celebrity’s event, you can access the live stream with the use of set-top boxes.
Better picture quality
A good quality set top box gives the highest pixel resolution and also have a plethora of HD channels to ensure you enjoy your favourite shows and movies.
Along with providing you with better picture quality, set-top boxes also come with the option to save your recorded programs especially useful for live shows for you to watch it at your own leisure.
Set-top boxes come with the option for connecting USB and other storage devices to access media and conveniently transfer data.
This feature allows you to connect your phones and other devices to the set-top box to exchange and access media on different devices.

Now that you are convinced that set-top box is something that you require, dive into the points to see what makes a set-top box the best among others.

24/7 service
Most of the DTH service providers have helplines and customer care facilities that are prompt and responsive.
On-demand service
A DTH or set top box gives you the option for payment as per your needs so you can save up during the period when you don’t use TV and recharge again when needed.
Reduced disturbances
A disturbance in signal and connection is encountered especially during poor weather conditions when most of the people stay in-doors and turn to the TV for entertainment. Set top boxes do not have such issues.
Most of the set-top boxes come with a warranty for a certain period of time and you can reap its benefits with having to worry about its performance standards.

What should you look into when buying a DTH or set-top box?

Here are the points to be considered.

Channels being offered: the man motive of having a set top box is to be able to enjoy the content of one’s choice. Pick the set-top box that gives you the highest number of genres to select from.

(Tip: the highest number of HD channel provider in India is Tata Sky while Dish TV provides you excellent value for money which is a great option for users looking for pocket-friendly DTH)

Disk space: a good set-top box should offer you a large disk space for you to store your recorded content. It should have the ability to record multiple contents of your choice at a time while you watch any program of your choice. Ensure that the set top box has enough space to store series as they require more space.

Additional apps: set-top boxes come with features over and above providing varied channels. They also have many apps to let you play games, some educational apps for kids etc.

DVD option: not all the set-top boxes have this feature but, in case you are looking for a two in one option opt for the one that comes with a DVD player.

Connections: a set-top box needs to have an HDMI connection and other essential ports to be able to access various devices.

Best set-top boxes in India

Tata Sky HD Set Top Box

Tata sky has always been synonymous with content distribution in India and for all good reasons. Tata sky HD set top box will be a good buy for you because:

  • It gives crystal clear picture quality by providing you with HD quality (1080 pixel) channels.
  • The company provides great services at a very nominal price by the virtue of “Compression technology” that they use.
  • Over and above the general channels being offered in the market, Tata sky also has the option of in-house content which remains exclusive for Tata sky users like games, educational programs for kids, academic help, fitness programs etc.
  • With the set-top box you get an adapter, dish antenna, universal remote and an HDMI cable wire.
  • The set top box has a USB port on its left and one at the back. It also has an Ethernet port, optical S/PDIF port for Dolby’s sound system.
  • The company gives a warrantee of 1 year.
  • The metal body of the set top box makes it sturdy
  • The remote is slim and comfortable to hold.
  • The company offers 24/7 customer service.

Airtel Digital TV HD Set Top Box

Airtel is among the leading content distributors in the market and one of the biggest reasons for it to be so popular is that they provide the users with numerous channels.

  • The set top box gives a high definition HD+ to give you the best picture quality.
  • The company uses MPEG4 technology to compress audio and visual digital data.
  • The set top box comes with a high-quality adapter, dish antenna, LBN universal remote and a HDMI cable wire.
  • The set top box has USB port to connect other devices, an Ethernet port.
  • The company gives a warrantee of 1 year.
  • You get the option to record your favourite shows and programs
  • It comes with a month’s package worth 199
  • 10 metre long cable
  • The box is not attractive
  • The after sales service needs improvement.


This Dish TV set top box claims to be India’s most powerful set top box and it rightfully does so by proving the following features:

  • It provides you with picture quality that is real life like as it displays HD channels.
  • This dish has a recording feature for you to enjoy your favourite programs at your leisure.
  • The components in the pack include a Set Top Box, Dish, LNB, cable up to 10 metres, Viewing Card and a Remote.
  • It supports pen drives and hard drives as it has USB ports too.
  • There are many packages that Dish TV provides for you to select a package that best suits you.
  • The company provides a warrantee for 1 year.
  • It’s a good looking and efficient set top box
  • You get the option to record
  • It has very good after sales service
  • You get a month long platinum pack with a wide variety of channels
  • Customer Service is not that good.

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Well, it seems the author is biased to Tata sky or have got benefits from them to not have found any cons in their set top box or service.
So, allow me put you wise..
I am a user of Tata sky for more than 10 yrs now with 3 HD+ (recording set top boxes).
1. None of their HD channels are full HD (1080p). They all are either 720i or 720p and just a couple of them are 1080i.
2. They install re-furbished set top boxes to customers that go bad within a year and if it does, they charge money to replace it with their another refurbished I’ll kept boxes full of scratches, dents and blemishes
3. The worst : their service partners suck… Terrible in most cases, ill mannered staff, no behavioral training to staff at all and they keep the set-top boxes in a manner you’d not keep your stash in the attic.
But, the reason it is worst is because Tata sky employees right to the top don’t give a shit to it.
Let’s say, when your experience and expectation is lower than your heels, any shit is better…