Adding Media Center TV Magic
Although PC manufacturers sell some PC models with onboard TV tuners that are ready to play and record live TV with the Media Center feature, there’s no need to leave your existing PC out of the game. TV tuners are available in both external USB and internal card varieties from many firms, including ATI, Hauppauge, and others, but there are several potential pitfalls to consider:
- Low-end TV tuners usually support only analog cable TV and standard broadcast TV channels, both scheduled to be replaced by digital TV signals in February 2009.
- Some HDTV-ready tuners are designed only for over-the-air HDTV signals, not HD cable signals.
- HDTV tuners that support ClearQAM (unencrypted) digital TV signals, such as the ATI TV Wonder 650 PCI Express, Hauppauge Win-TV HVR 1600/1800 series cards, Silicon Dust HDHomeRun, and others do not support encrypted premium cable TV channels such as HBO, Showtime, and so on.
- The only TV tuner currently available for recording encrypted premium cable TV channels is ATI’s TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner, which is only available as a bundle with Premium Digital Cable Ready PCs.
As long as you don’t need support for recording HBO, Showtime, or similar encrypted premium services, you can use Windows Vista Media Center along with an appropriate HDTV-compatible TV tuner to view and record standard or HD TV from broadcast or cable sources.