Do I need a converter box when I use a computer TV tuner and how reliable are the record and TV schedule feature for over-the-air setups?

Kat November 15, 2011
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I am purchasing a new computer and discovered built-in TV tuners in my research. I know they have been around for quite some time, but I have a few questions.

1. I would have over-the-air reception for this computer. This would mean I would connect a digital-ready UHF/VHF antenna directly to the computer via a coaxial cable on the computer, there is no need for a converter box, correct?

2. In your opinion, how reliable are the record and TV schedule features for over-the-air setups?

Any answers, comments, further details on how all this works are welcome! Thanks.

For more info on one of the computers I’m looking at this one.

  1. FIDELIS
    November 15, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Hello, with regards to your first question, you are correct.  You do not need a converter box, provided your computer has a tuner card.  Keep in mind that over the air channels depend on where you are.  You could have an over the air compatible tuner card, but if in your area there is spotty over the air reception you might not get many channels.  Chances are, you will get local channels for sure.  Most tuner cards come with software that provides a tv guide....You also have to take into consideration the changes being implemented with regards to analog to digital conversion. 

    With regards to your second question, most tv tuner cards come with their software, but most times is the cheapest of the cheap and therefore most times it functions but does not provide many features.  There are a few options though....some of them are free and provide better features.

  2. Anonymous
    November 15, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Built-in TV tuners convert a radio frequency television signal into a baseband (or low frequency) video signal which can then be passed on to other elements in the PC for video processing applications. TV tuners may be fabricated on circuit boards and then installed in personal computer (PC) systems, thereby allowing the PC to function as a television set. Some TV tuner receiving systems operate in such a manner that video and audio signals from external sources are input by connecting a detachable capture card to the main part of a personal computer.

    • James Bruce
      November 17, 2011 at 11:41 am

      Uh, you DONT need a converter box, and you may be able to use your exsisting antenna. Here in the UK, my parents old antenna that has been there for 20 odd years is able to pick up digital signals just fine. You will of course need a tuner card that RECEIVES digital signals. 

      As for reliability Kat, you obviously need to keep the computer on in order for it to record, so that may be one consideration for you. Assuming that is the case, I have a similar set up at home whereby Windows Media Center is running 24/7, and always records shows just fine. Some tuners will also allow you to record or view multiple channels at the same time - in my case, I often have a "conflict" whereby both shows are on the same time, so in that case it alerts me and I have to choose which to record. 

      • Anonymous
        November 17, 2011 at 12:24 pm

        Great tips, hope is the same for all countries, and every channels are fluently watched without bugs, 20 years old antenna still working that is great.

        I had or actually my parents had an old TV like in 1980s!! and with the antenna we could catch few channels from surrounding countries, they dont seem to make this kind of combination anymore.