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Troubleshooting Your HDTV Tuner

written by: Greg Brian•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 6/28/2011

Buying a tuner for your HDTV or having a tuner for your computer doesn’t necessarily mean everything is going to be perfect all the time when watching over-the-air hi-def channels. Yes, it’s the HDTV tuner’s fault in this case.

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    Troubleshoot Common HDTV Tuner Problems

    While it might seem challenging trying to scope out why you’re getting nothing but pixelation and other strange images on your TV screen or monitor, various simple, to moderately simple, things can be done to troubleshoot the problem with your HDTV tuner:

    The most common problem: Adjusting the TV antenna

    This might sounds like a how-to from 30 to 40 years ago asking you to adjust your antenna but things haven’t changed when watching hi-def over-the-air channels today, other than seeing pixelation rather than old analog snow when a channel isn’t coming in clearly. Generally, if channels don't look right, all you have to do is turn your antenna (on the TV or a stand-alone set of rabbit ears) until the signal becomes clear. However, keep these other tips in mind:

    • Don’t connect any indoor antenna to a splitter. It degrades your signal significantly. Use a multiple-output amplifier instead.

    • Try aiming your antenna toward a window and in the direction of where the channel towers are. Check out to get a map of where all your local station towers are located so you can aim the antenna in the right direction.

    • Buy an antenna that has a long cord so you can move it around to other parts of a room in order to get better reception. An antenna doesn’t have to be right near the TV.

    • You can hook up any old antenna you might have around the house to get hi-def channels with as much clarity as a new one provides.

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    Software Updates, Graphics Card Resolution and Decoders

    Things to check on your tuner if channels aren’t coming in clear…

    When watching hi-def TV on your computer it’s always a good idea to see if any software updates are needed for the tuner. For video cards, updated drivers are frequently needed and can be downloaded easily by going to your tuner’s website. The same goes for software updates and firmware updates on DVD players and other video devices. It’s a bothersome but necessary part of electronics life lately.

    Sometimes a graphics card being used with the tuner can have a resolution which is too high and give the illusion that your antenna isn’t picking up channels correctly. Merely go into the tuner’s menu and turn down the resolution to any lower level until channels look better.

    Decoders on tuners can also be a major problem in producing an unstable picture. It’s more of a complex troubleshoot action, though Microsoft has a webpage that allows you to check your decoders for Windows XP. If your decoders need to be replaced, you can install the Microsoft-compatible DXVA software onto your computer, even though it should already be there.

    If you’re watching hi-def on a television and using an HDTV tuner for TV, then the decoders are already built in and shouldn’t be an issue. So no pounding of your TV as the populace once did in a different era when channel reception was bad.