Whether you're looking for a standard TV card, an all-in-one TV and video card or a TV card with video out, there are plenty of options. We'll examine the products currently available in this article.
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So Many Ways to Watch TV!
An increasing number of people are using their PC as a TV, as demonstrated by the explosion of online TV services such as Hulu and BBC iPlayer.
With a high quality video card you can play games and watch high definition videos on your PC or even output the video to an HDTV.
There are several types of card that can facilitate watching TV on or via your PC, from standard digital TV cards to video cards with TV out connections and even “all in one" cards that are video cards that double as TV tuners.
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Best Digital TV Card
For an out-and-out digital TV card to slot into a spare PCI or PCIe bay in the back of your PC, the best choice is probably the ATSC NTSC Hybrid HDTV PCI TV Tuner?Digital Video Recorder.
Available for around $30 from Amazon, these popular cards allow you to watch digital TV and analog TV on you PC via cable or over the air and even support FM radio. HDTV is available at resolutions up to 1920x1080i and the card also features time shift recording, personal video recording (PVR) and digital video recording (DVR) to your PC hard drive. You'll have the ability to capture images in BMP and JPG format as well. This card comes with a remote control and the required cabling and adapters.
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Best All-in-One Card
If you’re short of space at the back of your PC, a VisionTek 512 MB All In Wonder Radeon HD 3650 might be just what you’re looking for. This card packs a GPU and a digital TV tuner on one PCIe (PCI Express) card, making it possible to watch or record live TV, watch digital HD broadcasts and unencrypted digital cable signals, watch 1080p Blu-ray and high definition video as well as play video games.
Available from Amazon this all-in-one card comes with all required cables and adapters.
Note however that there are no Windows 7 drivers yet available for this card, and it isn't clear when those drivers will become available. The Vista drivers may or may not work with Windows 7.
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Best Video Card for Television Out
Running a PC as a home theatre PC (HTPC) is a great way to maximise both the potential of your computer and your home theatre setup. A top video card for this is the ATI Radeon HD 4350 from Sapphire. This PCIe card has built in HDMI with 7.1 surround sound support for watching video on your HDTV. The UVD 2 decoder make its possible to watch Blu-ray discs and other high definition video sources. The card also features DVD upscaling, which helps you extract maximum image quality from older DVD movies.
This card costs around $70 if purchased online - find out more about its features at sapphiretech.com