The 6 Best TV Capture Cards and Video Capture Cards to Buy in 2017

Recording your favorite shows on your PC is easier than ever

If you’re interested in getting live TV on your computer or television, a TV tuner card is here to answer the call. Some tuner cards come in a form that is internal and connects inside a PC. Other cards are external peripherals that can connect to your set top box and plug back into your computer via USB or HDMI cable. No matter which option you select, whether it's live TV or video game playback, you can utilize this unique technology to cut the cord or complement your existing cable offering. This list represents the best in today's offerings and while some options are slightly older, they still offer the exact capabilities you're looking for in a TV or Video tuner card.

The very best tuner TV Card is the Hauppauge Colossus 2 PCI. Requiring just a single PCIe x1 or x16 slot, the feature-rich Colossus 2 is capable of recording videos directly from cable TV, satellite receivers and DVRs, as well as PlayStation 3/4 or the Xbox One or 360. With H.264 compression, the Colossus 2 records at HD resolutions up to 1080p all while storing data on your PC hard disk where space is limited only by the size of your own hard drive. Additionally, live streaming on applications such as Twitch and YouTube with Hauppauge’s StreamEez features add another layer of video game recording and playback.

With many TV tuner sticks, PC performance during playback and recording can often be a concern, but Hauppauge addresses this with video compression handled directly inside the Colossus 2 to offset any potential impact to PC performance. Audio quality is also not affected, thanks to the optical audio input that delivers standout audio quality from both video game playback and live TV broadcasts. Lastly, the final benefit of almost unlimited storage over a storage-limited DVR helps make the Hauppauge exceptionally well-valued. If you run out of storage on the PC with video, offload it to an external or cloud-based drive and carry on with new recordings. It’s that simple.

While TV and video capture cards are heavily focused on the Windows crowd, Elgato offers something for Mac users with the EyeTV Hybrid TV tuner stick. Capable of recording both TV and FM radio shows and exporting them to Apple TV or iOS devices, the Elgato is a fantastic choice if you’re heavily entrenched in Apple’s ecosystem. The EyeTV receives both digital and analog TV signals via antenna or cable and easily converts your Mac into a flatscreen HDTV + DVR with minimal setup. Beyond viewing, the EyeTV allows users to pause and rewind live television directly from the Mac or from the comfort of your own sofa with the included remote control.

As for recording shows and movies, Elgato handles things a little differently with a comprehensive built-in program guide that’s directly supported via TV Guide listings. The lone caveat is the yearly service fee for recording shows, setting up automatic scheduling for recording a series or creating a smart schedule to record one-off television shows or events. A subscription fee is an interesting take on the TV tuner model, but considering the overall price of monthly cable services, a charge once every 12 months feels like an excellent price-to-feature ratio. Additionally, the EyeTV includes a built-in editor to remove unwanted content (read: commercials) and save the clips for later viewing.

Hauppauge’s WinTV-quadHD PCI TV Tuner Card offers outstanding support for watching, pausing and recording up to four different channels at HD quality all at the same time. Additionally, the WinTV card also supports picture-in-picture for previewing and/or watching all four programs at the same time.

To make playback even easier, the WinTV includes a built-in application that offers TV-in-a-window and full-screen playback alongside the previously mentioned picture-in-picture option. Plus, the Hauppauge also provides a fully functional remote control with a one-meter receiver cable for attaching directly to a PC. As an ATSC recorder, the subscription-free service is broadcast in both the U.S. and Canada. Connecting to a cable TV offers similar functionality; there's a built-in splitter that records the same number of clear QAM digital cable TV channels at the same time. It’s worth noting that not all cable networks support QAM channels anymore, so checking with your local cable provider is a good place to start before purchasing. If you do find your network is supported, the WinTV is an exceptional PCI Express card that offers an outstanding value.

While Hauppauge’s Digital TV Tuner might be primarily designed for the Xbox One, its multipurpose function for both the Xbox and live TV make it an ideal purchase for buyers. Initially, the Hauppauge’s primary function is to enjoy over-the-air television alongside game play with the Xbox One allowing access to any broadcast networks available in your area. This type of viewing would eliminate the need to switch inputs between games and TV. Beyond the Xbox, the Hauppauge adds extra functionality by including an activation code for the company’s Hauppauge Win TV v8 application for Windows 10, 8.1, 8 and 7. The application itself allows Hauppauge owners to watch TV in a window or full screen as well as record digital TV programs to a connected PC’s hard drive.

Installation is easy, just connect the Xbox One via USB, and with the included antenna, it can receive the best reception within a 10-mile radius from any TV transmitter. For reception beyond 10 miles, a high-quality antenna can be separately purchased to boost the channel selection. At just eight ounces and measuring at 3 x 6.5 x 8.5 inches, the Hauppauge is small and easily disappears when connected to either the Xbox One or connected Windows PC. If you were not already sold on the Hauppauge TV tuner, perhaps the addition of streaming live TV to Windows PCs or iOS and Android devices around the house is enough to win you over.

If capturing memories of video games are just what you need to remind your friends later of that all-important victory you achieved, Elgato’s Game Capture HD60 is a great get. Capable of recording from both the Xbox One, Wii U and Playstation 4, the Elgato records 1080p quality with 60fps right back to your Mac or PC. To make things even more convenient, Elgato offers “flashback recording,” allowing the user to “slide back time” retroactively and record your game after you’re done playing.

A built-in live streaming feature offers connectivity to Twitch, YouTube or Ustream that offers users not only a way to record their own victories, but a way to show them off to the world. Additionally, there’s just one-click sharing available to push captured videos to YouTube, Facebook or Twitter. Most important is that at 3.7 ounces and measuring at 4.4 x 3 x 0.75 inches, the Elgato doesn't take up any room on your desk.

AVerMedia’s EZRecorder is a fantastic choice for grabbing and recording 1080p 30fps HD videos from a slew of cable and satellite providers. Connected to any PC, the EZRecorder can save in both MP4 and JPEG formats that are playable on mobile devices after download. Essentially, the EZRecorder works like a VCR without the required tape and instead stores everything on a hard drive for both playback and management. If you want to schedule a recording and treat the EZRecorder as a pseudo-DVR, that’s no problem since that capability comes built-in and ready to go out of the box.

As a bonus, you can skip right over commercials while watching recorded playbacks with the built-in video editor. Trimming a video right on the TV or PC is simple, so you can say goodbye to unwanted advertisements. Additionally, the EZRecorder includes an IR blaster cable and remote for easy control whether playback occurs on a PC or television. And at just 9.6 ounces and measuring at 6.2 x 7.5 x 1.3 inches, the EZRecorder handily tucks behind a computer away.


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