Set-top box

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A settuop box for Cable TV

A set-top box is a small device that adds extra functionality to another media device, often a television. In general, there are different kinds of such devices:

  1. Active devices provide a signal to the TV, they do not get any feedback from the TV. Examples of such devices are video game consoles, or DVD players.
  2. Passive devices rely on the TV, they don't add any new functionality; they are rare, though
  3. Bidirectional devices provide a signal to the TV, but they also get information back. Examples for bidirectional devices are videocassette recorders.

The most important functions of a set top box are media playback (DVD, VHS videos, perhaps interacve as a game console), recording of the data received, and being able to receive data using different channels (for example Sattelite TV, TV over internet) or methods (sometimes, signals need to be decrypted first; some people want to watch digital tv on an analogue television).