5 Ways to Get HDTV on Your Computer

Turn your PC into an HDTV with a tuner.

TV tuners have changed dramatically over the years. In the past, options were quite limited as to what you could do with a PC and TV. Now you can add a TV tuner to your computer and turn it into a potentially more convenient way to watch TV.

Due to copy protection used in cable, most home theater PC (HTPC) users were once stuck with NTSC standard-definition recordings. Once the digital switch took place with over-the-air broadcasts, options got better for HD content on the PC. But it wasn’t until companies started producing CableCARD tuners that things really took off.

Let’s take a look at the top five options when adding a TV tuner to your PC.

Ceton InfiniTV

If you’re looking to record and watch copy-protected HD content using an HTPC, a good option is the Ceton InfiniTV6.

The device is currently available as both an internal PCIx card and external DVR-like box. For the internal card, you will need make sure you have an available slot in your PC. 

Ceton continues to improve the experience of using their tuner through firmware updates when issues are found, as well as add new features.

With the ability to share tuners across your home network, you can turn almost any PC into a TV quickly and easily.

SiliconDust HDHomeRun PRIME Cable HDTV (3-Tuner)

If you’re looking for an external solution, SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun might just be the CableCARD tuner you’re looking for.

Available as a three tuner solution, the HDHomeRun Prime is a network device that will allow any PC in your home to access and make use of the tuners. Because of this, it is perfect for viewing HD content on laptops in your home since there’s no need to install a card.

The Digital Media Zone

Another CableCARD solution, the Hauppauge WinTV-DCR-2650 is a dual USB tuner. Like the other CableCARD tuners listed here, the device is compatible with Windows 7 and 8 Media Center and will allow you to record and view premium content from your cable provider.

Since this is only a dual tuner, many people may find that they need more. If you’re looking for a lower cost solution, the WinTV-DCR-2650 might be something to consider.

Hauppauge Colossus

While not technically a TV tuner, the Hauppauge Colossus is a video capture card that can be utilized to view and record HD satellite content. HTPC users have turned to this device as a viable HD satellite solution when they don’t have access to cable.

If you’re a satellite subscriber, you’ll still be required to use your provider set-top-boxes and utilize the analog hole in order to capture content.

With support for resolutions up to 1080p, the Colossus brings satellite to the HTPC user.

Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition

Another nod to Hauppauge with their pre-cursor to the Colossus. It is a single tuner external HD capture device that, like the Colossus, allows the capture of analog HD signals from cable or satellite set-top-boxes. This edition is aimed at those who record their gaming sessions.

With the advent of multiple CableCARD tuners available, it’s hard to recommend the HD PVR 2 or Colossus to cable subscribers. Yet, if there isn’t a provider in your area and satellite is your only option, using a capture device like the HD PVR will allow you to enjoy HD content on your PC.


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