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How Do I Choose the Best USB TV Tuner?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

If you want to utilize a computer’s universal serial bus (USB) port to run a television (TV) signal into your computer, then you should consider the best USB TV tuner for your needs. You should consider what types of signals you want to be able to receive, as some tuners include both an input for a physical connection and an antenna. There are also some tuners that include secondary features or equipment, such as a remote control. The best USB TV tuner for you should also be able to run with whatever hardware and software you are already using with your computer.

A USB TV tuner is a device used to receive a TV signal through a computer utilizing the USB port on that computer. These devices can be fairly small, about the same size as a USB memory stick, and allow computer users to easily and quickly receive TV broadcasts on a computer. If you are looking for the best USB TV tuner for your needs, then you should consider what types of signals you need to receive. You might look for a tuner that can handle both standard and high definition (HD) signals, as well as one that includes an antenna for receiving over the air (OTA) signals.

TV stations in the US are required to transmit HD digital signals.
TV stations in the US are required to transmit HD digital signals.

The best USB TV tuner for your needs is also likely to include any secondary features or additional hardware you want. Some tuners, for example, include remote controls that can be used to change the channel being received by the tuner and displayed through the computer. These remotes can vary in effectiveness, however, depending on the type of system the tuner is meant to work with. You might also consider an internal tuner that can be installed into a computer to provide a more permanent solution.

Once you choose any features and types of signal you want to receive, then the best USB TV tuner for you is one that can work with your computer. Much like other types of hardware, such tuners are often designed to work with a particular operating system (OS) and you should be sure to choose a tuner that functions with the type and version of OS you use. The best USB TV tuner for your needs is also likely to be one that can interface with any media player software you already have. This allows such tuners to more easily connect to and function with your computer with minimal setup on your part.

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Discussion Comments


@miriam98 - Know what kind of media player you have in advance before you use this product. The most common is Windows Media Player, which is what most Windows computers have. If you have a Macintosh computer it would be different of course. That will impact how the final broadcasts get displayed on your particular system.


@MrMoody - I think there is really no distinction nowadays between computers and televisions in terms of their display technology.

Therefore the idea of a TV tuner for your computer is no longer revolutionary. These things come with their own remotes so you can be a couch potato in your office just as you would in your living room.

The question is what you want to use the technology for. If you are the kind of person who likes to watch a lot of movies online already, then this might be the thing for you.

For me personally, I have other options for online movie watching. I have a PC input in my flat panel television which allows me to route the computer’s video signal to the television. Of course, that’s only useful for online movie watching - it would be pointless for TV broadcasts.


@everetra - I might hold off personally, but I think it’s a great idea. Years ago I used to own a couple of TV tuner cards for my desktop computer. I used these things to get television broadcasts on the desktop.

I was able to record the broadcasts and do my own version of “channel skipping.” Rather than flip through the channels like modern controllers do, I would download a whole program into my video editing software, and then just trim out the commercials and export the finished product to MPEG2 and burn the DVD for later viewing or just watch it on the computer.

Instantly, I had commercial free viewing. I don’t really watch movies on my laptop but if I did I think the USB TV tuner would be a great product to get.


I am looking into getting one of these things. Specifically I want to get a TV tuner for laptop computers. I am on the go a lot in my business and I would love to be able to get local TV broadcasts when I’m waiting at coffee shops or things like that.

While I don’t necessarily need the digital reception as such I think it’s a great plus. I have a high definition 1080 progressive scan monitor for my laptop because I need that kind of quality for my multimedia work.

Getting TV reception in high definition would look great on the laptop.

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    • TV stations in the US are required to transmit HD digital signals.
      By: uwimages
      TV stations in the US are required to transmit HD digital signals.