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Watching TV on Your PC Through a Cable Modem

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/30/2011

Can we really use a cable modem to watch television? Here we discuss the equipment and software required, and how simple it then is to achieve.

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    The idea of watching television on a computer using only the cable modem box is entirely possible. However, the process itself can be highly illegal unless you’re paying for the television using the same cable line. I’ve come up with this guide assuming you already legally pay for your cable service to watch television and just want to watch it through the PC.

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    Materials List

    What you need:

    - A computer running Windows,

    - A Cable Modem and Coaxial Wiring,

    - A TV Tuner Card (here’s a great one)

    - A TV or Monitor to Output the PC’s Video,

    - The Vista/Windows 7 Media Center Application or XBMC.

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    Watching TV on the PC Using a Cable Modem

    Before we begin, remember that unless your TV tuner supports HD broadcasts, you’ll be looking at analog signal, and if you’re not big into the whole 720p movement, you won’t notice the difference too radically between a 1080i picture and a 576p or however low the TV tuner is set to.

    1. Make sure the Windows PC has Windows Media Center already installed or XBMC (for this guide, I’m recommending WMC over XBMC, as it is more optimized for TV broadcasts).

    2. Connect the cable modem to the TV tuner card using the coaxial connection on the back.

    3. Make sure the cable is firmly connected in the jack on both ends.

    4. Start up the PC and run all the necessary updates to the TV tuner card’s drivers.

    5. Next, run the Windows Media Center program and select the TV option.

    Once inside, navigate the menus and you should be able to watch Live TV through your PC!

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    A Few Considerations

    If this all sounds too good to be true, there’s a small problem with this setup – if you’re using the cable modem for TV watching, you can’t simultaneously use the same coaxial cable for TV and Internet. You’ll need a splitter to accomplish this, and even then, I wouldn’t work the tuner and the Internet at the same time. Chances are the connection will not be as reliable. Other than that, I wish you luck, a TV Tuner Card (a good one at least) is usually less than $100, but the DVR functionalities of it are worth the price.