How To Watch Free TV On Your PC
You wanna watch Dancing With The Stars, your girl friend/wife can’t afford to miss a Soap Opera episode, the kids are fond of Cartoons, and there is only one TV set in the living room. What a dilemma! A pillow fight for the command of the remote control ensues, the kids win (as usual), and the whole family, much to the kids’ delight and satisfaction, winds up watching cartoons.
That is a wonderful outcome for family-get-together’s sake. But, if each member of the family is determined to watch his/her favorite TV program (pillow fight or not) at the same time, a bitter family feud is sure to erupt. Your choices, at this juncture, are limited to the following:
a) Continuous pillow fights over TV remote control;
b) Buy an expensive new TV set, or;
c) Convert your laptop/desktop to a TV set by making a de minimus investment in a TV Tuner. For peace and harmony’s sake, please read the following article to learn How To Watch Free TV On Your PC.
Tools needed to Watch Free TV On Your PC:
- Laptop or Desktop PC (obviously)
- TV Tuner (if your computer is not so equipped)
- Digital TV Converter (If you have an Analog TV Tuner, do not dispose of it; we’ll show you how to convert it into a Digital TV Tuner)
- TV Antenna, and
- Internet Access
Laptop or Desktop PC Specifications
Read your Laptop or Desktop PC specifications (Manufacturer, Product Line, and Model) and look for specifications that meet the TV Tuner’s requirements: Operating System, Ports and Connectors, Total Memory, Maximum Memory Supported, Hard Drive Capacity, Processor CPU Speed, etc.
For illustration’s sake, let’s use the Toshiba Satellite L755-S5356‘s Specifications, and the Diamond ATI TV Wonder HD 750‘s (TVW750USB DIAMOND ATI Theater™ HD 750 USB TV Tuner) Requirements. The illustrative table below shows the relationship between Laptop Specifications and TV Tuner Requirements with respect to Operating System, System CPU, CPU Speed, System Memory, Hard Drive Capacity, USB Ports, and Multimedia Drives.
We are not going to bore you with all the minute details of Laptop Specifications vs TV Tuner Requirements. Suffice to say that you get the idea: Compare and contrast laptop or PC specifications vs TV Tuner requirements for compatibility’s sake before you buy a TV Tuner. The Toshiba Satellite L755-S5356‘s specifications meet or exceed the Diamond ATI TV Wonder HD 750‘s requirements*.
TV Tuner Requirements
The preceding determination of your computer’s specifications was not an exercise in futility. The purpose is to intelligently pick a TV Tuner whose system requirements are compatible with your Laptop’s or Desktop PC’s specifications. The point is well illustrated in the above table (Laptop Specifications vs TV Tuner Requirements).
Multiple Brands of TV Tuners
TV Tuners come in a variety of brands:
- Ceton, Hauppauge, Mygica, Diamond MultiMedia
- Sabrent, Silicondust, Avermedia, Pinnacle
- Elgato Eye TV, Kworld, Champtek, etc.
TV Tuners also sport features that support TV Standards:
- ATSC ( Advanced Television Systems Committee ) Digital Over the Air TV
- Clear QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) Digital Cable TV (Cable TV is not free.)
- NTSC (National Television System Committee) Analog Cable, Over the Air TV
- DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting — Terrestrial)
- PAL (Phase Alternate Line)
- SECAM (Séquentiel couleur à mémoire) for Europe, or Sequential Color with Memory
Two types of TV Tuners:
- Hybrid Analog/Digital External TV Tuners (for Desktop PCs, Netbooks, Notebooks and Laptops), and
- Hybrid Analog/Digital Internal TV Tuners for Desktop PCs with PCI and PCI Express (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) Slots
What can you do with your TV Tuner?
With your External/ Internal TV Tuners, you can multitask: Browse the Internet, shop,… and…
- Watch Analog and Digital TV on your computer’s monitor in a window, or full screen. TV can also be watched on a big screen TV set. To watch TV on big screen, interlink computer and large screen TV set via a HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cable, if both devices (computer and TV set) are HDMI port-equipped. If not, read your computer and TV specifications with respect to input/output ports (VGA, S-Video, RCA, Composite Video, etc.), and buy a HDMI Converter accordingly to do the conversion. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Schedule and record NTSC Analog Cable, Over the Air TV, ATSC Digital Over the Air HDTV, and Clear QAM Digital Cable TV to your computer’s hard drive. Recording and saving TV programs in MPEG-2 (Moving Picture Experts Group) format on your computer’s hard drive are bytes-hungry (as in KB, MB, GB, etc.) exercises, which ultimately slow down your computer’s booting and processing time. May we suggest a simple solution to free up space on your hard drive: Save your TV recordings on a Portable External Hard Drive.
Avermedia Ultra TV USB 300 Small Window Screen
TV Tuners come with…
Most TV Tuners come with:
- TV Tuner- obviously (External TV Tuners)
- Quick Start Guide
- Installation CD (software)
- Remote Control
- Coax RF Adapter
- AV Cable
- USB Extension Cable
- FM Radio Tuner
- HD Antenna
- PCI or PCI Express Board (Internal TV Tuners)
- IR (InfraRed) Blaster
- IR Remote Control Cable, etc.
- Express Card TV Tuner for Notebooks with Express Card Slots (54 mm)
- PCMCIA TV Tuner Card for Notebooks with PCMCIA (Personal Computer Memory Card International Association) Slots
ATI TV WONDER HD 750
Digital TV Converter
Prior to the advent of Digital Television, Analog TV was transmitted via Analog Signals. However, of late, most countries have started phasing out Analog TV Transmission in favor of Digital TV Transmission via Digital Signals. So was the case in the US as of June 12, 2009.
So, if you are the owner of an Analog TV Tuner/TV set, do you discard it for a brand new Digital TV Tuner/TV set, or convert it a Digital TV Tuner/TV set and save a bundle? That’s where the Digital TV Converter comes in. You can easily convert your old Analog TV Tuner/TV set to Digital by buying a Digital TV Converter Box with Analog pass-through and following the manufacturer’ instructions.
Digital TV Transition Resources
Although External TV Tuners come with Telescopic HD Antennas, they are not powerful enough to tune in and receive Digital TV Signals from a relatively distant ATSC Transmitter. That is why we recommend an inexpensive Rabbit Ears Antenna or Bowtie Antenna for both VHF (Channels 2-13) and UHF (Channels 14-51) bands respectively. However, based on our experience, a well positioned Rabbit Ears Antenna does the trick (in terms of clear reception) for both VHF and UHF bands.
Rabbit Ears Antenna
If you want to watch free Internet TV or listen to free Internet Radio, obviously you need:
- Computer (Laptop or Desktop) or Smart Phone
- Internet Access
- Software, and
You can watch free TV episodes online (no software needed) by visiting one of those free TV programs and episodes, and videos aggregator sites:
Put the following key words “Free Internet TV Software”, “Free Internet Radio Software”, “Free Internet TV Directory”, “Free Internet Radio Directory” in a search engine box and see the results. Most TV Tuner Software contain links to or stream adult programs. So, to protect kids from exposure to unsuitable and explicit adult contents, download a “Parental Control Software for Family Security”
According to Champtek Inc, you can listen to 20,000 + Internet radio stations and watch 5,000 + Internet TV stations by plugging its Champtek USB Internet Radio/TV Receiver dongle (IR-200 USB Internet Radio + TV) into your computer’s USB port. Besides a one-time purchase, no subscription is required. Read the manufacturer’s instructions and the Frequently Asked Questions list.
In the interest of full disclosure, we have not tested the Champtek USB Internet Radio/TV Receiver and cannot therefore vouch for the veracity and accuracy of Champtek’s claims. If anyone has any experience (good or bad) with the product, please let us know.
*Laptop Specifications and TV Tuner Requirements are respectively from Toshiba and Diamond MultiMedia.