ZapperBox, manufacturer of one of the first external ATSC 3.0 “NextGen TV” tuner boxes, said it has just opened its web site to begin taking reservations for its ZapperBox M1 ATSC 3.0 tuner for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The ZapperBox M1 carries a $249 retail price and will receive over the air ATSC 1.0 (current) and ATSC 3.0 (new) digital broadcast television channels within range through the device’s single tuner chip.

Users will need to supply an over-the-air TV antenna suitable for their specific reception area and an Internet connection to the device.

The tuner box is able to connect to a television set via a single HDMI 2.0a input supporting HDCP 2.2 content protection and HDR. The box will be backward compatible with HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 1.3a connectors and signals as well.

The ZapperBox M1 offers support for up to 4K video resolution with high dyanmic range (HDR) — both baseline HDR10 and hybrid log-gamma (HLG) are supported for when broadcast signals support either version. It also includes support for Widevine 15 Digital Rights Management (DRM).

For home network connections to the Internet, the ZapperBox M1 is equipped to handle 802.11ac Wi-Fi, 2×2 MIMO and wired Ethernet connections.

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The ZapperBox M1 also is equipped to handle both Wi-Fi and Ethernet home network connections, has a built-in channel grid guide, and surround sound decoding for Dolby AC 4 audio, as specified for NextGen TV by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC). It also supports Dolby AC 3 (specified for ATSC 1.0), AAC decoding and will pass-through up to 7.1.4-channels of surround sound to an external AVR, preamp, soundbar, etc.

ZapperBox said the M1 will accept auto software updates as they become available unless a hardware update is required. The M1 can currently receive ATSC 3.0 broadcasts that use the ROUTE/DASH protocol. The company cautioned that some broadcasts may use the Multimedia Multiplexing Transport Protocol (MMTP) protocol and that MMTP reception capability will be added later using software updates.

The M1 also is able to support digital video recording (DVR) in the future using IP connected storage. This and other features can be added using software updates, the company said.

Supported HDR profiles include HDR10 and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG).

The company said HDMI features will be updatable via a firmware unless changes to specifications require a hardware update.

The ZapperBox brand is owned by professional broadcast systems developer BitRouter. BitRouter is a software licensing business and ZapperBox is a direct-to-consumer brand the company is using to to launch its own ATSC 3.0 product.

BitRouter provided the middleware to Zenith Electronics for its first HDTV set-top box in 1997-98.

BitRouter’s ATSC 1.0 middleware was licensed into around 30 million receivers using chips from 14 silicon vendors between 2003-2008. Some of these products can be found at Since 2008 BitRouter has built a middleware stack for the cable analog to digital converter boxes that is currently deployed in around 25 million receivers, the company said.

BitRouter began work on our ATSC 3.0 stack in January 2017 and has been selling this as a “Pro” receiver to broadcasters and developers for more than a year. See This same software is being used in the ZapperBox M1 with the addition of support for Dolby sound and DRM.

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By Greg Tarr

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