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Watch Live TV with Media Center

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 5/31/2011

If you want to watch television on your PC, your computer must have a television tuner, access to a television signal, and the right Windows edition.

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    Watch Live TV

    If you have a new PC with Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate installed, or Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate, you have Media Center. If your PC also has a TV tuner, and you have a way to use it to access a television signal, you can also watch live TV.

    To Watch Live TV in Media Center:

    1. From the remote control press the Live TV button to start watching Live TV. On the Start screen, you can also scroll down to TV + Movies and then scroll right to Live TV and then press OK.

    2. There are four parts to the Live TV screen. On the entire screen you’ll see the television show currently airing on the television station. In the bottom left corner of the screen is the information bar or Mini Guide. The right side of the screen is where menus are displayed when you request them. On the top right corner of the screen, volume control is displayed.

    3. To see more information about the current television show, press the More button. This displays an information bar in the left corner of the screen and a menu in the right corner of the screen. On the menu there are six options:

    - Program Info – displays the Program Info screen. You’ll learn more about the Program Info screen soon.

    - Record – Starts recording the television show.

    - Record Series – Starts recording the television show and schedules the entire television series to be recorded.

    - Zoom – Alters how the picture is displayed. If the picture looks stretched or just incorrect, use Zoom to fix it.

    - Mini Guide – Shows a miniature television guide on your screen. You’ll learn more about the Mini Guide soon.

    - Settings – Opens Media Center Settings.

    The Guide To change the television channel, press the Channel Up and Channel Down keys on your remote control. There may be a slight delay in changing television channels depending on your television signal source – changing channels takes slightly longer if your television signal comes from a set top box. You can also enter the channel number using the remote control or a keyboard.

    To help you find a show to watch, you can access the Guide, shown here.

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    Pause Live TV

    With Media Center, you can also pause television. This means that you’re free from programming schedules set by television producers – free to get up and get that cup of coffee, answer the phone, or run to the grocery store. Any time you want to stop live television, just press the pause button. To resume watching television where you left off, press the play button.

    You can pause up to 30 minutes of Live TV. After 30 minutes, Live TV becomes unpaused and starts playing again. This is because Media Center saves up to 30 minutes of a television show on the hard drive as you watch it. When you close Media Center or change the television channel the 30 minutes of saved television is automatically deleted.

    If you don’t like watching commercials on television, one popular strategy is to start watching a television show and then immediately pause it. Wait about five or ten minutes. Then press Play to start playing it. You’ll have about five or ten minutes of time that you can fast forward through as you watch the television show. Use this time to skip commercials when they air. You can also record the television show and then skip the commercials as you watch it later. You’ll learn more about recording soon.

    To rewind television, press the rewind button. Like with pause, you can only rewind up to 30 minutes of television on the current station. If you change the channel to a different television station the 30 minutes that was temporarily stored is erased. You can only rewind up to the last 30 minutes of the current television channel that you’re watching. Use the Replay button to move back seven seconds.

    To fast-forward television, press the fast-forward button. To fast-forward more quickly, press the button multiple times. When you press the play button fast-forward stops and resumes playing. To skip forward 29 seconds, press the skip button.

    Press Stop to turn off Live TV and return to whatever you were doing in Media Center before. For example, if you were browsing the Guide, when you press Stop, Live TV will stop playing, and then return to the Guide.The Pause Button 

    This article was excerpted from 'How To Do Everything With Windows Media Center', written by Joli Ballew and Justin Harrison for McGraw-Hill Companies and a copyright exists at McGraw-Hill. Permission must be granted by McGraw Hill to reuse or republish this material.

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    Author's Own Experiences: My suggestion is to start an hour-long show with Media Center, put it on pause, and do something else for 20 minutes. Come back, sit down, and watch it. With 20 minutes paused, and generally 20 minutes of commercials, you can watch a show without interruptions! Just fast forward through the ads.

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    Related Reading:

    >>> How To Connect Your PC To Your TV

    >>> Checking Out Online Network TV

    >>> Nine things you might not have tried in Windows Media Player 11

    >>> Introduction to DVR's

    >>> How To Watch TV on Your Computer