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Tv Tuner Laptop - Buying a Laptop TV Tuner - What is a TV Tuner for Laptop?

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It is nothing new to be able to watch TV from your laptop. The technology has been possible for over a decade and has been practical since 2004. Today, many high-end laptops have a TV tuner built into them, so all that is required is to connect a cable line or an antenna to get reception. For those who don’t have a built-in laptop TV tuner, but would like to be able to watch TV from a laptop, several third-party TV tuners are made that are compatible with laptops. The various models of tuners have different strengths and weaknesses, but most are dependent upon which software you are using to watch the signal received from the tuner.

What is a TV Tuner for Laptop?

A laptop TV tuner is simply a small electronic device that you plug into your laptop. This device comes in two styles that are compatible for laptops: the PCMCIA card and a USB device. PCMCIA slots were once available on every laptop, but many do not have them anymore. If you have a PCMCIA slot on your laptop, and you are not using it for anything else, this is a great way to go. These slots are fast and they tend not to overheat as much as the USB stick TV tuner for a laptop.

On one end of the laptop TV tuner is the connection to the laptop which, as stated, is either PCMCIA or USB. The other end of the TV tuner card will have one or more connections for different types of TV or audio signals. Some cards, especially the USB type, have only a coaxial cable connection. This is the standard connection that is used for broadcast antennae, cable, or satellite signals. Some cards combine other functions into it such as radio reception, so a 3.5” input jack is available so a radio antenna can be plugged in.

Many cards have remote control capabilities, but how these work depend on the type and brand of card being used. Some cards require a completely separate infrared receiver that will need its own USB connection. Other cards have a proprietary remote control system whereby an infrared remote detector is provided or purchased separately and plugged directly into the card.

Once the laptop TV tuner is completely connected, you can watch any TV channels that are being sent through the signal that you have connected to the tuner. Software is required to watch TV, however. Every TV tuner manufacturer will include software that can be used for their product. In addition, if you have Windows Media Center included in your Windows software, this can also detect and convert the signals from the tuner into a viewable image.

The software for laptop TV tuners is vitally important. Depending on the software, several features may be available. Many types of software allow for DVR-like recording and playback of TV shows. These can be incorporated into an online guide to schedule recordings. Some software also allows for pausing, rewinding, and fast-forwarding in real time.

The Top Models of TV Tuner – Laptop

Several companies manufacture TV tuners for laptops, but a few are clear winners above the rest. Some of the best tuners are those produced by Hauppauge, Sabrent, and AVerMedia.

Hauppauge TV Tuner Laptop Cards

Hauppauge laptop TV tuners are capable of converting both analog and digital TV signals, including the ATSC signals used for broadcast television and Clear QAM digital TV. Recording is possible in MPEG-2 format. They have both laptop card and USB-type tuners. Some models even include a portable digital antenna to watch TV on the go.

Sabrent TV Tuner Laptop Cards

While the TV tuners for laptops made by Sabrent are basic models, they provide a very good reception and are capable of accepting HDTV signals. They include recording software and real time timeshifting capabilities.

AVerMedia TV Tuner Laptop Cards

This is one of the top brands of laptop TV tuner. Many models come with composite RCA cables, S-video connections, and coaxial connections that allow you to attach a game system, DVD player, or even a Blu-ray player directly to your laptop. They support Clear QAM HDTV signals and over-the-air digital signals. Recording can be done in MPEG-2 format.

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