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Just want to watch HDTV on my PC (no cable or pay service)

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 20, 2011 4:44:02 AM

I recently sold my TV and am thinking of not getting another one for a while. The main thing I did watch on TV was football and I'd love to continue watching it just on my computer now my TV is gone. I have a pretty powerful rig so I'm wondering what cool things I could do with it if I threw in a TV turner card. First off what should I look for in a TV tuner card? I've been comparing the ones on places like Newegg but many seem like a little overkill for what I need. Basically I'd like to start watching movies and TV on my PC so if I could get something with a remote control that would be sweet. I don't have cable TV or any other subscription service so I'll be relying on whatever is being broadcast. Btw, if there is any recommended software that plays all file formats (like MKVs, AVIs, ISOs, etc. - I would be interested in hearing about that too, especially if it can also be controlled by remote. Think basically Popcorn Hour but on my PC).


My Rig:
CPU: Intel Core i7-920 Bloomfield 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor
CPU COOLER: COOLER MASTER Intel Core i7 compatible V8 RR-UV8-XBU1-GP 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler
MOTHERBOARD: GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD5 LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard
RAM: CORSAIR DOMINATOR 12GB (6 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model
VIDEO CARD: SAPPHIRE 100283-2L Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
POWER SUPPLY: SeaSonic X750 Gold 750W ATX12V V2.3/EPS 12V V2.91 SLI Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply
DVD/BLU-RAY: SAMSUNG Black 8X BD-ROM/DVD Writer SATA Internal Blu-ray Combo
HARD DRIVE: HITACHI Deskstar 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive

MONITOR: HannsĀ·G HG-281DPB Black 28" 3ms Widescreen HDMI LCD Monitor
September 20, 2011 5:51:00 AM

High Definition channels are encrypted and you will need a cable box and subscription to access them. Don't bother getting a TV Tuner card without cable or satellite access.

If you want to play those file formats search google for "Shark007 codecs" and install the package. Just open the file in Windows Media Player now.

Your best bet is Hulu or Netflix for content. Everything else is probably illegal and can't be discussed here.
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September 20, 2011 7:09:54 AM

Thanks for your response! So what if I just want to watch football games in standard def? Picking up a TV Tuner card my best option? I guess I could hook basic cable up to it if over the air sucks.
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September 20, 2011 7:37:01 AM

Friend, you have 2 choices, I believe the first one should serve you well.

1)Get a HD hybrid USB Tv tuner. With that, you will be able to sintonize all channels analog as well as digital (720p/1080i high-definition), be able to record the programs, schedule recordings and even pass the recordings to DVD. I recomend a usb tuner from Kworld or Avermedia. This is over the air and free btw, you only need to pay for the tuner once.

2)Get a Capture card. With taht you will be able to capture signals from your cable/satelite TV using the card line in inputs, HDMI or Component, again, 720p/1080i. Note that you wil need a paid TV service, this is not over the air. In addition, altough Compoenent is a 100% garanteed capture, some programs cannot be captured by HDMI, because of HDMI encryption.
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Best solution

a b x TV
September 20, 2011 1:04:58 PM

First thing you need to do is go to http://www.antennaweb.org/ and see what channels are available in your area.

Click Choose Antenna.
On the next page, enter your address (Note: only the zip code is required).
Under the map, click Continue.
This should bring you to a page that lists all the channels available in your area. The first column denotes whether a channel is broadcast in digital. If some of the channels are digital and others not, then you'll want a hybrid tuner.

Next you need to figure out your connections. Do you have an antenna on your home? Will you need to purchase an indoor antenna? If your going with an external device does it have it's own antenna? How are you going to get the signal to your PC? I've never been one for external devices for my systems, so I prefer to go with internal components. Besides, it looks like your system has an available PCI-Ex1 port.

You don't mention what OS you're running, but I'm guessing Windows 7 Home Premium. If so, I'd probably just use Windows Media Center for controlling the HTPC and get a TV Tuner card that includes a MCE Remote Control.

There are some unanswered questions, but something like this Hauupauge WinTV HVR-1250 would probably work for you.

-Wolf sends
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September 20, 2011 2:07:31 PM

Wolfshadw - Excellent post.
As Wolfshadw mentioned it is going to depend on (1) distance from TV transmitter. A RCA Flat panel amplified Ant is around $25 and unless you have and ext ant is about your best choice and they are only good for about 30->40 miles depending on where you can mount it (looks like a picture frame, infact I put a picture on mine. (2) Will you be able to recieve the station that broadcast your games. Use Wolfshadw link to determine which stations and check. Living in a large town does not always mean good reception.

I did have the Hauupauge WinTV 1600 in a previous build. I use to always buy the ATI all-in-wonder card But it has been discontinued and was NOT a good gaming card.

Internal TV card is the lowest cost option, $50->$100. Other options do exist but are more expensive and I only mention to keep in the back of your mind. I have both, Two Monitors w/Tuners and two Stand-alone DVD recorders.

(A) Bought a DVD recorder with tuner. Cost is about $150->$200. Not a good option for your monitor as you only have one HDMI and one PC input so you would also need a hdmi switch. But the quality is much better than the internal TV tuner cards and you can program to record while you are away and computer is off (upto 4 hrs for DVD and 7 Hrs for DVD daul layer).

(B) Replace monitor with a monitor with tuner. I have the Samsung P2770 HD (1920 x 1080) which has 1 Ant input, 1 HDMI, 1 dvi and 1 pc input. Also have a Samsung 24 inch (1920 x 1200) which is better, but smaller (it's a 16::10 vs a 16::9 screen) but has 2 HDMI inputs plus the ant input. Both are 1080P. But the cost could be reduced if you could sell your monitor.

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September 20, 2011 2:46:32 PM

Go here for some good TV football. You can use the full screen option to take advantage of your 28" monitor size.

http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/source/espn3/ (You need ATT service for this free feature)

No pro games, but many excellent college offerings.

Nothing more required than your computer. I'm running a 28" monitor on a 7600GT with good reception, with your card it should be great.
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September 20, 2011 3:07:11 PM

Like mela1 said, watchespn.com is great for college football and a few other sports they broadcast. They also stream shows like SportsCenter and SportsNation on watchespn.com. They also have an iPhone and Android app as well as integration into Xbox Live if you have an Xbox 360. Visit the site and there's a link that lists everything they show. They stream Thrusday and Friday night college football games as well as the usual Saturday games.

Also, if you have internet through a cable company like Comcast, you automatically get basic cable, since they can't block it, which includes all local channels (like NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and others) including the HD versions which allows you to watch NFL games that you can't get on watchespn.com. Except MNF (Monday Night Football) games which are on ESPN now but aren't licensed to be streamed on watchespn.com. You just have to have a tuner, or monitor/tv with built in tuner, to be able to watch them.
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September 25, 2011 6:13:16 PM

A streaming netflix account is what, $10? If you have a fast connection most movies and shows will stream 1080p
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October 4, 2011 4:38:50 PM

Thanks for the feedback. I'd say the main thing I want to watch are NFL games. Looks like ESPN games will be the ones I will miss such as MNF as well as Thursday Night games when they have them. I did look up what stations I get in my area on antennaweb.org and this is what came back:

3 yellow vhf
7 yellow uhf
1 green uhf
3 lt green uhf
3 blue uhf
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October 8, 2011 10:04:34 PM

A friend of mine is going to give me a Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-950Q TV Tuner Stick/Hybrid. He only has the USB stick and nothing else. I'm going to give that a shot and hook up a Artec Digital TV Antenna with Flat Panel, AN1 Indoor Digital Flat Antenna to it. Hopefully this will get me rolling with TV on my PC.
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October 8, 2011 10:05:52 PM

Best answer selected by sdhaku.
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