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How can I watch TV on my PC without using online sites?

  1. I have heard of TV tuners but is it just a matter of hooking a TV tuner to your computer and that's it?
  2. Do I have to just buy a tuner or pay for a service as well?
  3. If no service needs to be paid for, will I get just regular channels or cable/satellite channels as well?
  4. Will my PC need to be connected to the Internet when I want to watch TV?
  5. Do I need any type of software aside from the hardware tuner?
share|improve this question (7 more to go) – Josh K Apr 13 '10 at 19:44
@ Josh K I revised my question, I really meant without using online sites. – Sammy Apr 13 '10 at 19:48
up vote 0 down vote accepted
  1. You also need to connect an antenna or cable to the tuner, and install software.

  2. If you can watch TV for free with a TV set, then you can watch it for free on your computer. (ie. it depends where you live)

  3. You'll only get cable / satellite channels if you plug in a cable / satellite dish, and have an appropriate type of tuner.

  4. No.

  5. Yes. Tuners come with software (of varying quality), and there are also free programs you can use. (and there's Windows Media Center if you have that)

share|improve this answer

It will depend on where you are.

There are TV tuner cards (a Google/Bing search will show up a whole range). You need input to get them to work.

For terrestrial broadcast just plug in the coaxial cable from your aerial (antenna) and you should be good to go.

For satellite and cable its more complicated. Unless you're in an area that can receive free satellite broadcasts (Freesat in the UK) you'll need a subscription and a tuner that can be activated to unscramble the signals. I don't know whether these are available as separate cards.

If you're watching via TV card then you should be able to browse the internet OK as the signal won't be consuming any of your bandwidth. You might have processor issues - but that will depend on what PC and TV card you have.

Though you don't want online TV the following information might be useful

You can also watch TV over the internet (BBC iPlayer etc in the UK), but with these you need an IP address in the locale covered by the service.

If you are watching via the internet then the streamed video will be consuming a fair amount of your bandwidth. So if you try to browse the internet you might experience problems with either the browsing, the video stream (pausing/buffering) or both.

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The TV tuner is just an interface from the external TV connection to the internal bus of your computer. You will still need whatever TV service you can afford (along with a tuner that supports that interface, e.g. CATV, digital broadcast, etc.), plus some sort of software to pull the video from the tuner and show it on your monitor.

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For TV tuners there are USB and PCI kinds. Though at any rate I'd recommend Hauppauge:

Best TV tuners ever. Also Terratec is quite okay.

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There are USB based TV tuners. I have one for my Mac, but they are available for PCs as well. The one I have is about as big as two USB flash drives. Besides an coaxial connector for a TV antenna or cable, it has 3 RCA connectors for recording NTSC video and audio, so I can also record videos from a camcorder or DVD player. Cost me about $150 two years ago. However you get your signal now, with such a device, you could record and watch it on your computer.

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