Convinced England are going to win the Rugby World Cup and want to record it for posterity? You could record it on a personal video recorder, but we reckon recording it to your PC’s hard disk is a better bet.
Why? Your PC hard drive probably has a larger capacity than the hard disk-based PVR under your telly, while its DVD writer means you can easily make multiple copies to share with your mates.
The TV recording features on a PC these days work in much the same way as do the programme guides and recording schedules on Freeview or satellite TV, too. You press a single button to bring up the electronic programme guide, use your remote control or mouse to navigate to the programme you want to watch, read the descriptive blurb to confirm it’s the right programme, then hit the red Record button. Simple.
Windows XP Media Center Edition PCs as well as both the Home and Ultimate versions of Windows Vista let you do all this, via the aforementioned Windows Media Center that comes as part of the operating system. This has a pretty interface that’s as straightforward to use as I’ve just described.
Not got either Vista or Windows XP Media Center Edition? A £20 USB stick such as those from Pinnacle can add TV capabilities to your PC. Again, you get a programme guide to scroll through and select the channel to record either now or later.
If you want to be able to stream HD content around your home or view it from further afield, plug a laptop or PC into your network or log in over a broadband connection and enjoy whatever is playing or has been recorded on your Sky HD box.
The Slingbox Solo only has connections for one item to be plugged in at once (unlike its big brother, the Slingbox Pro and has to downsample the HD stream, but is a neat way of doubling your HD viewing pleasure.
For once, Mac fans aren’t left out in the cold when it comes to these TV on demand innovations: Mac specialist Elgato came out with a TV tuner for Apple users earlier this year that boosts reception via the use of dual aerials (much as Mimo technology in wireless routers does.
And if you want an instant replay of our sporting heroes whenever and wherever you are, you can always convert and copy your recorded video to your iPhone or iPod Touch using an Elgato Turbo 2.5.
For those unfortunate enough to be unavoidably otherwise engaged during tomorrow’s rugby world cup clincher, there’s always the mobile TV option.
Mobile phone owners can grab Sling’s SlingPlayer Mobile application and watch the whole match live but in miniature on their phone handsets. Sadly, not every mobile phone is up to the task, but Symbian phones (of which there are many Nokia devices as well as ones from LG, Samsung and others) work with SlingPlayer Mobile.