Learn How to Record TV Shows on Your Computer Without Windows Media

Use a software DVR to record TV on a Windows computer

In This Article

Jump to a Section

It is relatively simple to turn your computer into a PC TV, and many homeowners once turned to this process as a Digital Video Recorder option. The Windows Media Center application, which was included in some Windows editions, enabled a PC to record TV shows.

When Microsoft discontinued Windows Media Center, PC users turned to other inexpensive commercial software paired with a channel tuner to record their favorite TV shows. Popular options included SageTV and Beyond TV.

PC TV Options

However, how we watch TV is changing, and most channels and sports events now offer their programming through streaming apps and services. Some of these require a subscription, and some are free.

Because of the wealth of streamable programming available at any time, many PC owners no longer use their computers as DVRs, and the formerly popular DVR applications have fallen on hard times. SageTV was sold to Google and is now available as open-source software. The developers of Beyond TV are no longer developing that product, although it is still supported. 

Despite this, DVR alternatives are available for Windows PC owners who want to record shows on their computers. Among the best of the new options are Tablo, Plex, Emby, and HDHomeRun DVR. Although they are not free, they are low-cost, lower than a satellite or cable subscription.


Tablo is a hardware tuner and DVR that you can access through Windows applications. It connects to your home's high-speed network, and it has a built-in hard drive. Using the Tablo apps, you can watch live TV and schedule recordings. Tablo is not a home media center, but it is an easy way to watch and record TV.

Tablo website


Use your PC with Plex Media Server software to watch and record TV shows on your PC. You need a Plex Pass subscription and a connected TV tuner to record over-the-air TV to your PC. The Plex Pass subscription is affordable and available on a monthly, yearly, or lifetime basis. Plex has a sleek integrated TV guide with rich metadata.

Plex website


The Emby home media center software is available for PC owners who want DVR capabilities. It requires an Emby Premiere subscription, which is affordable and payable monthly or annually. The setup is simple and brief. However, Emby doesn't provide a source of TV guide data. You have a list of channels and no information about what's on them. You'll want to download one of the free TV schedules to get around this.

Emby website


If you have an HDHomeRun tuner, then the HDHomeRun DVR service is the best way to record TV. It is the simplest of all the software DVRs to set up, and it does this one thing well. It does not function as a home media library. A minuscule annual subscription is required for the use of this program.

HDHomeDVR website
Was this page helpful?