Review: The Mediasonic HOMEWORX Digital Converter Box HW130STB

by | Last updated Feb 26, 2024

If you have an old tube TV or a flat-screen that does not have a digital TV tuner, then the only way you can watch free broadcast channels on that TV is to get a digital converter box, or tuner box, as it is sometimes called.

You plug your TV antenna into the box, then you connect your box to your TV. It converts the signal either to an analog signal that your old TV can use, or to a digital HDMI signal that you can plug into a more modern HDTV.

Many of these boxes today have a USB port where you can plug in a USB drive or stick. You can then record broadcast TV shows for viewing later.

My Recommended Converter Box: The Mediasonic HOMEWORX HW130STB

There are many converter boxes on the market today with almost the same feature set. At just $30, the Mediasonic HOMEWORX HW130STB is one of the lower-cost units out there, but it has pretty much the same features as more expensive boxes.

Setup and Channel Search

I found the setup for the Mediasonic HOMEWORX box to be very easy. I never consulted the manual. I plugged in an antenna, plugged in power, then plugged it into my flat-screen Sony TV using an HDMI cable. Note that if you’re using it with an old tube TV, you’d use the included analog cables instead.

Rear panel of the Mediasonic HOMEWORX converter box
Rear Panel

After turning on my TV and selecting the appropriate HDMI input, I got the setup screen prompting me to do a channel search:

Mediasonic HOMEWORX converter box setup screen
Mediasonic HOMEWORX converter box setup screen

I kicked off the channel search by pressing the big OK button on the remote and it only took the unit a few minutes to do a complete channel scan:

Found channels on the HOMEWORX converter box
Found channels on the HOMEWORX converter box

After that, I could start watching live broadcast TV. Pretty simple!

Tuner Quality

The unit found 140 channels in its scan. For comparison, my excellent Sony HDTV found 154 channels.

So, the tuner is not quite as good as my Sony, but the vast majority of the channels it didn’t find were ones I wouldn’t watch anyway, i.e., foreign language, etc. It found all of the major networks and major local channels in my area (Los Angeles).

So, the tuner quality was more than sufficient for me.

Picture Quality and Channel Surfing

I was surprised that such a cheap unit could have such good picture quality. It was basically indistinguishable from my Sony TV’s picture quality! HD channels looked crisp and colorful.

The unit was also pretty quick when changing channels. Time to change channels was about the same as my Sony.

The Weak Link: The Remote Control

The one annoying thing I noticed was that you have to point the remote control right at the unit. If your aim is off by a bit, it won’t register. It’s not the end of the world, but it can be annoying.

The remote control for the Mediasonic HOMEWORX HW130STB
The remote control

If you read the reviews for other low-cost converter boxes, the remote control seems to be the weak link in most of them. Other units have problems with buttons triggering adjacent buttons, cheap feel, or like this one, the need to aim precisely.

If (or when) your remote breaks or gets lost, the good news is that the remote for this model is available separately on Amazon for only ten bucks. If you have the HW-150PVR, this is the remote on Amazon.

Mediasonic also told me that their unit works with the Logitec Harmony remote control (now discontinued, but you may be able to find them on eBay).

Setting Up a USB Drive or Stick

There’s a USB port right on the front of the box where you can plug in a USB drive or flash stick. I chose the latter since I had a bunch lying around.

I plugged it in, and the unit immediately recognized it, but I couldn’t get it to work at first. I went into the menus and realized that I had to initialize it first. After I did that, it worked fine.

Formatting a USB drive on the HOMEWORX converter box
Formatting a USB drive

Pausing and Recording Live TV

Even if you don’t plan to use your converter box as a DVR, it might be nice to plug in a USB drive anyway so that you can pause live TV.

After I formatted the drive, I tried searching backward while watching live TV, but it wouldn’t let me. I had to first pause to enter recording mode, then resume play. Then, it would let me rewind to the point at which I hit the pause button, or forward to the current time. Not the end of the world.

You can also just hit the record button to start a recording that you want to save. Super easy!

If you go into the menu system, you can find a page with your recordings. They are stored with somewhat cryptic file names but at least they contain the station call letters.

Page showing recording I made with the HOMEWORX converter box
Page showing recording I made

It took me a while to figure out how to replay my recording. The key is to look at the hints at the bottom of the screen which tell you which buttons to use on this page. I was able to select my recording and play it using this “legend”.

Playing While Recording

A few readers have asked me if you can watch a show while it is recording. Actually, I often do this too. I start recording, do something else for a while, then start watching from the beginning so I can fast-forward past the commercials.

Although I haven’t had a chance to go back and test this myself, reader Edward reports that after recording starts, you can indeed hit Play and it will start playing that show from the beginning. Pretty cool!

File Format

The unit stores your recordings in .mts file format. You don’t see this format a lot on computers, but it is used to store HD video on AVCHD and Blu-ray discs.

Despite that, I was able to plug the USB stick into my Windows PC and play the .mts file recordings using Windows Media Player! Nice!!

If you Google around, you’ll find plenty of software that can convert this format to more common computer formats like MOV, MP4, AVI, MPG, etc.

Scheduled Recordings (DVR Functionality)

The fact that is box can do any kind of recording at all is pretty amazing at this price point. There is also the capability to do scheduled recordings. You set up these recordings on this page:

How to set up scheduled recordings on the HOMEWORX DVR
How to set up scheduled recordings

This is very reminiscent of how we used to set up recordings on old-school VCRs. But to my surprise, there is actually also a channel guide available if you press the EPG button! It only goes 24 hours or less into the future, but it’s something. Press “OK” to record any show.

The Program Guide

And, it’s not as flashy as the channel guides on some of the more refined DVRs out there like the Tablo or AirTV. Those are much easier to set up recordings on, or even record whole seasons (however they require Internet access to display the guide). The Homeworx unit only shows one channel’s shows at a time.

And note, you can’t record one show while watching another since the unit only has one tuner.

But, as I mentioned, at this low price, this box is worth it just for the converter functionality. I see the DVR as a bonus that you may or may not use.

Signal Strength Meter

One thing this box does that my Sony TV doesn’t do is provide a signal strength meter. This can be VERY useful if you’re trying to fine-tune your antenna placement.

Manual channel search page showing signal strength meter ("Quality") on the Mediasonic HOMEWORX converter box
Manual channel search page showing signal strength meter (“Quality”)

To get to this signal strength meter, tune to the desired channel, then press MENU on the remote and cursor over to Channel Search, then select Manual Search. You should see the screen above with signal strength meter (Quality) on the bottom.


Since I reviewed this unit, Homeworx came out with a new and improved version in 2022. It has generally the same feature set, but the software is more stable and the remote control feel is improved. I’m linking to that new version below.

This is an amazingly low-cost box that lets you use a broadcast TV antenna with your older TV with a basic but functional DVR as a bonus!

My only beef is that the remote control is pretty cheap and you have to aim the remote precisely at the unit for it to trigger. This was annoying but not a show-stopper for me.

The picture quality and functionality of this one are great. If you need to find a converter box for your tube TV or older flat screen, check this one out! You can find it on Amazon:

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. I test or research each product or service before endorsing. This site is not owned by any retailer or manufacturer. I own this site and the opinions expressed here are mine. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Hope this review was helpful to you. Let me know what you think of the Mediasonic HOMEWORX HW130STB in the comments below, or send me a question!

If you want a DVR that is easier to use and has more features, check out the Tablo! – Brian

Keep in Touch – Subscribe to My Posts

Brian Shim,

I'm an electrical engineer (BSEE Caltech) with twenty years of experience designing industrial and consumer products, and now a web developer who loves to share ways to save money on TV content, Internet access, and cell phone plans! Read more about me here.

If you liked this article, please sign up for email updates. I'll send you a note when I publish a new article, no more than once a month. Unsubscribe any time. You can also watch my videos on YouTube. - Brian

* indicates required

Continue Your Journey...

Go to my next article to learn more about ways to get free and cheap TV.

Ask a Question or Leave a Comment

I try to answer every question. If you have a reception question, please leave your zip code.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 days ago

“And note, you can’t record one show while watching another since the unit only has one tuner.”

Actually, I am able to record one channel and watch another from the same tranmitter, such as record channel 7.1 while watching 7.2 or 7.3. However, I can’t watch a program on 4.1 while watching a Channel 7 program.

30 days ago

Does this tuner have manual add channels?

30 days ago

Does this tuner have manual add channels? I need one that has that feature. Thanks!

3 months ago

I bought this same converter less than 2 years ago and it suddenly stopped working despite being used very infrequently. It would not power on; apparently this is a common problem with this unit according to the reviews on Amazon.

3 months ago

What generation is the Homeworx tuner/dvr? Is there a newer version of it or a more up to date one?

3 months ago

I hooked my unit up to the antenna, HDMI port, external hard drive, and power. After turning the TV on and selecting HDMI as input, I have the Mediasonic/Homeworx screen (with multicolored pattern background) but I am unable to get to the Menu to set my preferences up. I am getting the message “This function is not available now” when I select the Menu button. Can you tell me what I might be missing?
Thank you for any help you can give me.

3 months ago

I hooked up a 1tb drive to store recordings. It was clean and initialized. It recorded maybe fifty hours of video and then said it was full. Is that because of the recording format or is it maybe partitioning my drive between photos, music, movies and my recordings

B Gordon
B Gordon
4 months ago

I am trying to replace my homeworx which originally went through a vcr. I disconnected the broken vcr and now cannot get the new homeworx to work. The antenna is connected to it. The TV is a Hitachi which worked perfectly last week. My screen is all snow. Suggestions?

4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Shim

At first, I could not get to that screen. I had snow then No Service. I switched the plug to the new one with old box. That worked!

Pin It on Pinterest