NEWBIE: What should I buy to put in a new PC to watch TV online?

We are boomers who are non-technical PC-wise, so I hope you can help me figure out what to buy. We're buying a new Dell Vostro 200 computer from a local dealer because there are no stores near us that sell pre-configured PCs. Our computer guy is putting it together based on what we think our needs will be for the next three years. We are not PC gamers and we use the internet for casual research and email. I want to watch the figure skating videos that aren't on regular TV and some old TV shows, too. I think I need to get a "tv tuner with remote" for the PC, but I'm not sure what else to ask for or what brands to suggest he use. I read somewhere that we could actually send the online video signal to our regular TVs and that's great. I hate the thought of sitting in a computer chair for a few hours to view the broadcasts. What would you specify that will work in a Dell Vostro 200 PC? (We have satellite TV and DVRs in the house and we use a DSL connection on the PC, if that's of any use in telling us what to get.) Is the Dell Vostro a pretty good choice for us or should we get something else? Thank you for all your help.
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  1. Well a TV Tuner is a device that lets you input a TV source into your computer (Like hooking up your Satellite TV to your computer in order to watch/record.)

    From what it sounds like, you want to watch the online videos on your TV, so what you will need is a video card that will output to the TV via S-video/component/HDMI.

    My question for you is, do you have an HDTV and will the computer be close enough to have a wire run from it to the TV?
  2. Yeah, if you want to pipe online video or video stored on your PC then you will simply need a video card that can output to your TV. If you have standard TV then you will simply need a video card with S-Video out.

    HDTV is becoming the standard soon (February 2009). They come with DVI and/or HDMI connections. Make sure the video card has HDMI to be safe. You do not need to buy a powerful video card, just about any should do.

    Do not buy a TV tuner card unless you are interested in watching TV on your computer, or you want you computer to record TV programs.
  3. The Dell Vostro 200 series systems have a single VGA (15 pin D-Sub) output. This will allow you to output to a single monitor (or TV, provided it has a 15 pin D-Sub input). While this works great if all you're doing is watching videos, it's not so great for reading e-mails and casual browsing.

    You're going to want to include a discreet graphics card with a TV Out port (as both Indigo and Jaguar mention). You're also going to need to know what available inputs you have on your TV. Many graphic cards with a TV Out port also include a converter cable that can convert the signal from S-Video to Composite (single yellow video cable) or Component (Red, Blue and Green video cables). The type of converter cable you will need depends on what inputs are available on your TV.

    -Wolf sends
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