TV Tuner Cards

How it works

Digital TV Tuner cards for computers are relatively simple pieces of hardware: in essence, they include a regular coaxial aerial connector, a RF tuner, and a decoder. The signal hits the antenna, is passed down to the tuner and then to the decoder. The information is then processed by either a dedicated MPEG-2 decoder or the computer's processor. A basic digital TV tuner kit will include a TV tuner card and some software to record and watch TV.

Most mid-range TV tuner bundles also include a remote control and infrared receiver, which is used to drive the tuner software. These will often include a digital radio tuner, too, which also allows the user to receive digital radio broadcasts. Basic models often forego the remote control, but if you're planning on using the computer as a TV, it's a crucial component.

Interface: Internal or External

The first choice to make after deciding to go with a digital TV tuner card is figuring out whether you want to opt for an internal or external solution. Digital TV tuners are available as both internal cards that fit into a PCI slot or as external USB devices.

An internal card requires a spare PCI slot, as well as a desire to open your computer up to install it. This isn't technically challenging, just a little daunting if you've never done it. PCI Express models are also available that take advantage of the PCI Express bus found on newer motherboards. These are functionally similar to the internal PCI models but are designed to fit the PCI Express slot instead. Internal cards tend to be cheaper than their external brethren, but they're a little less flexible.

3G

Internal cards start around $99 and go up to $250. Generally, a basic model will include a card, some tuner software, and little else. The card will include a coaxial aerial connector, but you'll have to go shopping for coaxial cable yourself, and if you're serious about watching TV from a distance you'll also have to add a third-party USB or Serial infrared remote control. These cards are generally adequate for recording shows though, and if your primary goal is to be able to watch TV while sitting at a PC this solution is ideal. Higher-end models will generally include more cabling, a wider range of connectors, a remote control, richer software bundle, as well as extra filters to clean the image. As a result, they'll offer a slightly superior picture to less expensive models, but the difference isn't enormous.

Some high-end tuners will even include analogue inputs, allowing the user to record footage from a VCR. This sort of device can do double duty: it can be used to receive and record broadcast TV and also for converting old VHS, Super 8 or Beta tapes into a digital format.

An external device is the only viable solution for notebook users while also favouring those that don't want to mess around opening their computers. Better yet, they're portable. You're generally looking at a slight price premium to move from an internal to external solution. When buying an external tuner, the best bet is to go for a USB 2.0 or Firewire model. This is because the limited speed of USB 1.1 (11Mbps) isn't adequate for the data passing between the tuner and the PC. To avoid any playback glitches, Firewire (400Mbps) and USB 2.0 (480Mbps) of bandwidth respectively, which is plenty to cover the demands of a digital TV tuner. External tuners start at around $120 and go up to $300. Like their internal counterparts, the more expensive models feature extra software, cabling and often ship with a remote control.

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GoodGearGuide Staff

Good Gear Guide

14 Comments

Anonymous

1

thanks really useful

Anonymous

2

this site is great, i have been looking for information all over the place and this site answered all my questions, thanks!!!

Gerry Hiles

3

TV card

Many thanks for the info. Now I know which way to go.

Anonymous

4

PC TV

Thanks, this site has made it very clear on how to set up and what to purchase to enable me to tune in to digital TV and Radio stations on my PC. Great site.

John Harnett

5

TV Card

I recently purchased a new computer and am running Windows 7. My old computer ran on XP and had a DVB TV card in it that did not work in the new computer. Unfortunately all 4 of the USB points are being used by keyboard, mouse, printer and modem. now if I want a new TV card I have to get one that works with W7 either a card or a USB TV but if I go down the USB track I need to get a USB hub to give me more USB connections. If I do get a USB TV I should get a powered USB hub because they are much more reliable but obviously require a power outlet. Can you recommend which way to go ? I am not very computer literate and would have to pay about $100 to get someone out just to install a TV card if that is the way I decide to go ?

What can you suggest ?

emily

6

have fun of statellite tv on pc

I had been used to watch TV with satellite dish like many people ,as you know, I should pay $90.00 every month, It's expensive but have to pay. Last week, my friend recommend me a software ---SatelliteDirect,which can watch TV on PC .Most importantly, it is much more cheaper and useful, I only need to pay $49.95 for one-time fee and can watch over 3,500 TV channels worldwide including movies, sports, comedy, news, music channels, documentaries and much more. All I need is a PC or laptop with an internet connection. I'm a newbie, so I worried it will be very cumbersome. Afterwards, I follow the steps they gave and finally find it is really as easy as 1,2,3.
It's really amazing, you can have a try. Download it with this link: http://softjohn.com/tv_on_pc/pctv.html

Brian

7

Bad Advice

3500 channels of useless crap. I tried it for an hour and have requested a refund.
There are no useful english (AUS, UK, US) channels that you coldn't stream for free over the internet anyway.
This product mis represents itelf too stating 3500 chennels of HD content. There was nothing HD about what I saw.
Buyers beware.

emily

8

watch tv on pc

Are you put off by the cost of cable or satellite tv? Now you can just pay49.5$,a one-time fee less than one month of your monthly cable bill, and watch your favorite TV shows all your time. It’s a big save ,no need to have statellite dish ,receiver or any other equipments ,all you need is a computer and an internet connection . Here you can check out more in this site :
http://softjohn.com/tv_on_pc/pctv.html

PARKAR A R

9

TV tuner Card

Dear Sir,
I want to buy a TV Tuner Card (External) for the following two purposes:
1) I have some old VHS movies and also my camcorder is a DV camcorder, where I need to transfer all the video to my desktop PC so that I can edit and make movies (home videos).
2) I need to use the TV tuner card for watching free to Air and also Paid TV channel thru my satellite TV box on my PC.
Please suggest me which of the TV tuner cards suits best to my requirement and where would it be available. I am a resident of DUBAI, U. A. E.
Thanks & Best Regards.

jack

10

A new MyGica brand TV tuner with DAB radio

Hi, can you tell me do you know a brand MyGica whose T803 TV tuner with DAB radio? it seems like very good for me, I live far away from the downtown and DAB radio is my favorite while I am working at home.

Marc

11

I have looked for days and can not find any concrete answer. I would like to know if a) You have to have a service provider such as Dish or DirecTv in the area. b) What type of programming can be picked up? For example local only, international only, USA only?
and most importantly c) If I live lets say in Mississippi, can I use a TV Tuner Card to pick up LIVE NFL Football from Detroit, MI, or any other state that I happen to want to watch a LIVE NFL Game from?

Also, if the answer to C is no, any ideas other than DirecTV's NFL Sunday ticket on how to watch my favorite teams games without having to move back to the state?

Thanks in advance.

Mat Walker

12

We only watch free-to-air digital and just over a year ago I purchased a Compro E900F dual tuner card for my HTPC Media Center Vista box. I also installed, and subscribe to, the by-donation EPGStream system for the program guide. With this (very easy to use) setup we dont actually watch live TV anymore as we have told it what programs we like and that it should record when it see's they are on.

By not watching live TV we can just skip all the adverts (a Godsend for Masterchef!!). If we do watch live TV then we pause/timeshift when we like.

One downside to the E900F is that the Compro software that comes with it is truely awful and badly lets down what is a very good piece of kit. I have disabled the Compro s/w, except the remote control service, which helps but the remote control service constantly eats 4-5% CPU (even when doing nothing) and often the remote stops working with CPU going up to 50% and we have to plug a keyboard in and restart the PC. Even with the dreadful Compro software, it still makes a great TV and sop highly recommend a E900F (and the EPGStream system).

Hope the comment helps :-)

tumaini mwakapoja

13

i have a tv turner card (philips) . i am looking for its drivers

JEANNE

14

IF I INSTALLED THE THE TV TUNER TO MY PC, WOULD I BE ABLE TO GET THE CANNELS THAT I HAVE ON COMCAST, IE CNN, FOX AND ETC OR JUST WHAT WOULD COME IN OVER OUTSIDE ANTENNAE?

Comments are now closed.

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