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2,862 Tutorials

How to watch live digital TV on your PC

Install a PCI or USB TV tuner

"There's 57 channels and nothing on." When Bruce Springsteen sang those words back in the 80s, many Brits might have gently raised an eyebrow at the notion of more than four dependable terrestrial channels, plus those satellite upstarts Sky and BSB.

These days, we expect choice - even at the expense of content quality. As well as the UK's five terrestrial channels, a huge selection of digital channels is just a Freeview box away.

But a Freeview box or a new TV aren't your only options for obtaining telly heaven - and the analogue signal could soon be switched off in your area. TV tuner cards that plug into your PC are available from as little as £30 including VAT.

Simple to install, these cards come with their own antenna or connect directly to your existing aerial and pick up TV signals as they are broadcast. They cover terrestrial and digital channels; some even offer HD programmes.

Two formats are available: PCI cards are internal; USB tuners are external. If you're looking to upgrade a laptop, you'll need to purchase the latter - there just isn't room inside the compact chassis to fit a PCI version.

Many tuners now have time-shifting and recording functionality, so you can pause live TV or record it and transfer the file on to a portable device. TV tuners are a great space-saving solution, too. If there's no room for both a TV and PC in any given room, plump for the PC and get the best of both worlds.

It's worth noting that if you watch or record TV programmes as they are broadcast then the law requires you to purchase a TV licence.

Install an internal PCI TV tuner

1. We're using a Compro VideoMate E650 PCI-E Hybrid DVB-T/ analogue tuner; setup for other models may vary. Unplug the PC before opening its case. Locate the ATX power switch pins on the motherboard, usually labelled ‘Power SW'. Unplug the pins and connect them to the JS1 connector on the TV tuner.

Step 1: Install an internal PCI TV tuner

2. Find the Power Up patch cable that was supplied with the TV tuner. Attach the black connector to the power switch connector on the motherboard, and the white connector to the JS2 connector on the TV tuner. Close the PC case and attach your home TV aerial or a loop aerial to the back of the machine. Restart the PC.

Step 2: Install an internal PCI TV tuner

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