Can you really watch TV on your computer?
As everyone knows High Definition (HD) TV is so much better than regular TV. I didn’t have an HD capable TV myself and I didn’t want to run out and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on another TV, so I thought I would investigate other alternatives. I thought there was probably a way to watch TV on my computer, but I wasn’t sure about if it would be in HD or not. I found the answer.
I don’t know that much about TVs, I just know that watching HDTV vs. a normal analog signal is about as drastic of a difference as color was to black-and-white. And then I of course heard about how all television will be going digital in less than a year and those of us with “old-school” TVs will have to get an adapter and possibly a new antenna just to watch the local news.
So anyway, I was pleased when I got this cool little TV tuner for my birthday a couple of weeks ago. It plugs into your computer via a USB port and is about the size of a jump drive.
I am still really excited about my little toy. I keep finding out more and more features:
- It has a TV scheduling program that will allow you to schedule a time for it to record a TV show for you directly to your computer’s hard drive. Basically just like a TIVO. Now I will never miss another episode of “The Office” again.
- When ATSC digital TV comes next February the TV tuner will also receive the new digital TV channels, so I won’t have to buy an adapter or anything else.
- It also comes with an RCA adapter and an S-Video adapter which will allow you to hook up a VCR or DVD player and play those videos on your PC as well AND record them. So, now I can take all of my old video tapes and record them and burn them to DVD.
Steps to watch and record HD TV on your computer
- You will first need to get a HDTV tuner card, I got this gadget and it costs less than $65, but there are bunch that you can use to watch TV (check closely, because many are TV tuners, but not all are HDTV tuners). I chose the one I did, because it was very simple to use – just plug in and go. The downside, of course, to having an external one as opposed to an internal one is that it is taking up space in your USB port. I prefer this over having to do PC surgery to install the internal one.
- Installation was very simple for me. It comes with a CD that contains the necessary software and drivers. You just drop the CD in, run the setup program and it installs all of the programs and files for you.
- Now that the software is installed, you can plug in the tuner stick. The one I received came with a small antenna that attaches to the stick to allow for better reception. Or, you if you have cable you can connect the cable line to it as well.
- Next, you can open the software program that the TV tuner came with. You will then need to have the tuner scan for TV channels. It will probably do this for you automatically, if not you may need to dig around the menus to find the option. I was pleasantly surprised that my TV tuner found about twice as many channels as I could watch on my regular TV.
- Now, you are ready to start watching TV on your computer!! It’s just like the Jetsons!!
Actually watching HD TV on my computer
Above is a screen-shot of the program that came with my TV tuner. By a click of a button, it goes to full screen so you can make the most out of your computer monitor’s space.
Although you can change channels and adjust volume from your keyboard, I chose to buy a PC remote control for about $30. Just to make the HDTV watching experience that much better . I have not yet received the remote control, but I will write about it to let you know how it works with my whole computer TV system.
Getting hundreds of channels to watch on your PC
I have heard about things like this that allow you to watch hundreds of channels on your computer for a small one-time fee. I am not sure exactly how it works, but I am going to try it out soon and I will write about that as well. (Added 12-31-08: A user had a bad experience with this product, see comments below)
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