TV tuner cards are a great way for you to watch TV on your PC. If you have a high quality monitor for your computer then you can get great image quality by watching TV on your computer instead of a lower end TV. One easy way to receive TV signals via your computer is to purchase and install a TV tuner card. A TV tuner card is a physical piece of hardware that works much like a TV antenna, and can be connected to an aerial (either one inside your home, or the one outside on your roof). Installing the card will require opening your computer in most cases, but it is a relatively simple process.
Choosing a Card
Before you purchase the card, make sure that you choose the right type. There are a few different kinds of expansion slot. Most TV tuner cards sold these days will be either PCI or PCI-E (and there are a few different varieties of PCI-E). Your computer’s motherboard will have a set number of slots, and there is a high chance that you will already have some items (such as a graphics card, sound card, or even additional hard drive controller cards) in some of those slots. Make sure that the card you buy will fit inside your computer.
Installing the Card
Once you have found the right card, the next step is to install it. Make sure that your computer is switched off and unplugged at the mains. Unplug any peripherals such as your keyboard and your mouse, and carefully move the computer to a flat, safe workspace. Remove the side from the case, and then locate an open expansion slot. Remove the TV tuner from its box and packaging, taking care not to handle any circuitry, because if you expose the card to static electricity it could damage it. Line the card up with the expansion slot, and firmly, but carefully, push it into the slot until it won’t go any further. Next, put the cover back onto the computer and reconnect everything that you unplugged from it. Connect the aerial to the TV tuner, and then switch on the computer. If the TV tuner came with any CDs or DVDs, wait for your computer to boot up into the operating system, insert the disc into your CD, DVD or Blu-Ray drive and follow the on-screen instructions. If you are using an unusual operating system (most TV card manufacturers offer driver software for Windows only, or Windows and Mac), such as a variant of Linux, then you may need to go online to download driver software for it. Once you have the driver software installed, you should be able to watch TV on your computer.
If you have any issues, the most common problems are either that your computer’s power supply is not able to power the additional hardware, the port that you inserted the card into is disabled in your BIOS, or the driver software was not correctly installed. To confirm that the card is working, test it in a friend’s computer. Read the instructions that came with your motherboard to find out how to check that the port is enabled in the BIOS. In addition, check that the device is visible in Device Manager in your operating system. Under Windows, if a device is being detected but the drivers do not work or are not properly installed the device will appear in the list that shows in Device Manager, but it will have an exclamation mark alongside the name. Right-click on the device, select properties, and then click on Update Driver.
Windows will search its own list of driver software to try to find a driver for your TV tuner. If it cannot find one it will ask you to provide the disc. If the drivers on the disc are not suitable for your version of Windows, or you do not have a driver disc for some reason, then as a last resort Windows will look online to find an up-to-date driver. Usually, the online database has a suitable generic driver that will allow you to make use of your TV tuner card.