The 6 Best USB TV Tuners of 2020

Yes, it's really possible to watch free TV on your computer

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The Rundown

Hauppauge 1191 WinTV-HVR-955Q

Hauppauge 1191 WinTV-HVR-955Q

 Courtesy of Amazon

The Hauppauge WinTV HD TV Tuner is one of the most popular on the market and offers a suite of features to make both watching and recording live TV easy. Available for any Windows laptop or desktop, installation is a breeze and Hauppauge's tuning software, known as WinTV, is intuitive and easy to navigate, which means finding and recording programming require no learning curve.

It records a program with the single click of a mouse button and even allows you to watch another program while the first one records. With HDTV, analog and QAM cable TV capabilities onboard, using the included antenna makes channel discovery as easy as it gets. Once setup is complete, channels can be watched either in a window for easy multitasking or full screen. And the included WinTV application allows playback of any recorded programs. Meanwhile, ATSC HDTV brings free over-the-air digital TV at 1080i resolution on any PC screen on any of its 1,500 available TV stations broadcast in 200 cities nationwide.

AVerMedia Volar Hybrid Q USB TV Tuner

The AVerMedia AVerTV Volar Hybrid Q USB TV tuner is a standout option that supports Windows computers and Android TV. Compatible with ClearQAM, analog, OTA FM Radio and ATSC, the AVerTV is a feature-rich choice that doesn't cost a fortune.

With intelligent features such as picture-in-picture, smart channel grouping, time shift, closed captioning and an available electronic program guide, the AVerTV has everything you need to duplicate traditional cable. The extendable High Gain antenna is powerful enough to allow for smooth streaming of digital TV channels, as well as strong FM radio reception. Connecting your analog devices through a composite cable or S-Video input allows for even more videos with alternative digital formatting. It hooks up to the PC via USB and adds DVR software directly onto your Android and iOS devices with the downloadable app (no file conversion required). The intuitive user interface makes navigating channels, adjusting volume or selecting live TV a breeze.

Hauppauge WinTV-DualHD Dual USB 2.0 HD TV Tuner

Plugging directly into the USB port on your Windows computer, the Hauppauge WinTV-DualHD USB TV tuner is a great choice for viewers who want to enjoy multiple channels at a single time. The Dual TV lets users select one channel to watch and allows them to record another at the same time (although another possibility is having two simultaneous streams open at once, thanks to picture-in-picture).

A portable TV antenna for increased signal reception is included, as is a remote control, USB extension cable and an activation code for the WinTV Windows application. Once installed, buyers can enjoy over-the-air ATSC HDTV, as well as ClearQAM digital cable TV in full HD quality (even in full screen). You can also schedule to record digital programming. ​It's compatible with the highly popular Plex Media Server software, which means users can also upload shows to Linux and Android devices, including the NVIDIA Shield.

Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One

While most USB TV tuners focus heavily on connecting directly to a compatible Windows machine, this Hauppauge model is for gamers with Xbox One. The Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One easily allows free over-the-air broadcasting directly on the Xbox platform, including streaming and even pausing live TV.

The included One Guide integration provides immediate access to upcoming programming, including local listings. Once connected to the Xbox via USB, you're ready to set up the included 10-mile range antenna near a window. That will pick up ATSC digital TV signals and bring you more than 1,500 TV stations in more than 200 cities across the United States. It's worth noting that ATSC programming is free and does not require a TV subscription.

AllAboutAdapters USB Digital ATSC Clear QAM TV Tuner

AllAboutAdapters USB Digital ATSC Clear QAM TV tuner is a budget-friendly option for cord cutters looking for a quick and easy option to get up and running with free TV programming. The USB-based ATSC SD/HD TV tuner offers connectivity to both Windows laptop and desktop PC offerings with free over-the-air digital programming across North America.

The included ClearQAM tuner can decode unencrypted QAM channels, offer local broadcast stations, public-access channels or private QAM channels. While the price is wallet-friendly, the TV tuner still has the capability for closed captions, electronic programming, pause, rewind, fast forward and skipping of commercials. Directly supporting burn to disc function, the TV tuner adds the option to instantly record in real time or schedule recordings in advance with an output of 1080p Full HD.

Tablo TUNER – Dual-Tuner Antenna USB Adapter

Manufactured exclusively for the NVIDIA Shield TV, the Tablo Tuner offers not one, but two ATSC tuners, allowing you to watch live and record two over-the-air programs at a single time. The Tablo engine on the NVIDIA Shield enables users to continuously enjoy Full HD picture quality at 1080p resolution, while a single connection point via USB makes installation incredibly easy.

The included DVR functionality allows users to watch, record live TV and pause. Tablo users will find that the ability to skip commercials, fast-forward through programs or even rewind programs for watching all over again adds a new level of functionality to their NVIDIA Shield TV.