Should you buy or rent a set-top box from a provider?

A subscriber to an IPTV/OTT service can either purchase or rent a set-top box (STB). This article discusses the benefits of renting an STB and the profitability of purchasing a media player.

A media player is a device designed for viewing online or external media content. A set-top box, for example, can be used to watch digital TV and videos on the Internet, as well as Netflix shows, in addition to adding paid channels or downloading videos from an external hard drive.

Through the Internet, your device receives a digital signal from the content provider (an IPTV/OTT operator). The data is then converted by an STB into a format “understandable” by the TV and transmitted to the screen. At the same time, it maintains sound and image quality.

The benefits and drawbacks of renting a set-top box

An operator is a person who rents out equipment. Renting an STB is convenient if users do not want to be concerned about the technical condition of their devices. An IPTV operator owns a set-top box and thus bears repair costs if it fails for any reason. A new device will be delivered to the user, while the old one will be repaired or disposed of by an operator. A user does not need to worry about whether the device meets all of the latest standards. When a new type of casting or content is introduced, a new model will replace an out-of-date STB.

Renting to own may be less expensive than purchasing. A user pays a monthly subscription fee for content and devices when renting an STB.

Some providers provide a rent-to-own service at a discounted rate. It means that after a certain period of time, such as a year, your set-top box will be considered purchased. In this case, you must carefully consider whether it is more profitable to rent or purchase a device right away.

A set-top box can only operate in a single operator’s network. Some IPTV services customize their devices so that their set-top boxes can only work with video streams from a single service provider. Viewers cannot use a customized set-top box when switching operators in this case.

In terms of characteristics, an operator’s devices may not always satisfy a subscriber. For example, older people may only require a few essential functions, but they must “pay” for all device features, even if they will not require the majority of them.

At the same time, a set-top box may perform poorly for other users, such as gamers, who use it as both a media player and a game console.

Renting a set-top box is a good idea if a viewer plans to use it for no more than six months and does not intend to move or change operators during that time.

The benefits and drawbacks of purchasing a set-top box

Buying a set-top box is advantageous if you intend to use it for more than a year. For example, if an STB costs USD 80 and a monthly rental fee is USD 6, the rent for 14+ months is more expensive than the purchase. Different IPTV providers may offer different pricing options.


Most video services will work with your set-top box. IPTV operators can unilaterally change the terms of service, such as raising the subscription fee, at any time. It causes users to consider switching operators in order to find one with better terms and conditions.

If subscribers own set-top boxes, they can cancel their contract with their current operator and join a new one. Renting devices, on the other hand, would have to be purchased or returned.

You can pick a set-top box that satisfies your needs. You can purchase the most basic media player and avoid paying too much for extra features if you need a set-top box so that adults can watch the news while children can watch YouTube cartoons.

Difficult to set up. Most of the time, IPTV operators assist users in setting up their equipment. Service providers, who are knowledgeable about their own set-top boxes, enable the five-minute device connection process. Integration will take longer if operators or users are unfamiliar with the interface of the set-top box, though. In addition, this service might be charged.

It will cost you money to maintain and update a set-top box. If a set-top box has a manufacturing flaw, a short circuit, or a firmware bug, it will not function. In this situation, users will need to find a solution on their own. Customers who rent set-top boxes will get new operating systems promptly and for no cost.


The best option is to buy an STB if you intend to use it for more than a year, are aware of the features you require, and want the flexibility to switch IPTV providers.

Any user can choose whether to rely on a service operator or to completely disregard STB maintenance depending on what is most important to them. We advise you to look through Infomir’s selection of Linux- and Android TV-based set-top boxes if you are considering making a purchase.

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