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Pause, rewind, record TV shows on computer

You need not bring home that DTH Set-Top box to record TV shows that you might miss. All you require is a computer with Windows Media Center and a TV tuner installed.

Harpreet Singh        Last Updated: November 19, 2010  | 11:52 IST

Ok, those set-top boxes that record TV programmes that you can't see but don't want to miss fill your heart with desire, don't they? One day, you say, I will get it for my TV. Actually, you need not wait so long. Your home computer or laptop with Windows Media Centre (Vista Home Premium/Vista Ultimate/Windows XP with Media Center) can be turned into a personal video recorder (PVR) that records, pauses, rewinds live TV programmes. It can also record future programes. It is easier than you think. Here's a step by step guide.

STEP 1: Insert TV tuner card into an empty PCI slot. Attach antenna or cable to tuner card.

STEP 2: Install any TV recording software and drivers. No need if you have Media Center.

STEP 3: Go to Media Centre and watch, pause, rewind or record live TV programmes.
STEP 4: Also set PC to record future shows by selecting from Electronic Programme Guide.


Tips:

1) The TV tuner is also able to record videos coming from external video players such as VHS players and video camera through its auxiliary connector.

2) Consider building a machine with a dual core or quad core processor. A fast multi core processor is a must if you plan on watching and recording hi definition TV at the same time.

3) Get good TV tuner cards with built in hardware encoding. Tuner cards with MPEG hardware encoding will take a load off your processor when they record TV shows. This will help ensure that you won't get any skipping or problems in your recorded output.

4) The minimum memory required depends on the type of software you are installing (usually less than 500 mb). But for recording and saving videos for playback later, you should have free disk space of 50-100 GB. More memory space is always better.

Types of TV tuner cards available in the market:

ANALOG TV TUNERS
These types of cards are the cheapest in the market. They are ideal for real time viewing but requires compression if you have to record because it outputs a raw video stream. They usually have S-Video and FM radio capability.

DIGITAL TV TUNERS
Digital TV tuners can produce MPEG-2 video formats and there is no need to re-encode it. They are capable of providing an MPEG transport stream which extracts extract the individual (audio and video) elementary streams.

HYBRID TV TUNERS
A hybrid tuner has one tuner that can be configured to act as an analog tuner or a digital tuner. Switching in between the systems is fairly easy, but cannot be done immediately.

COMBO TV TUNERS
This is almost the same as the hybrid tuner. The only difference is that this type of tuner is composed of two separate tuners on one card. It can operate as an analog and a digital tuner simultaneously. One can watch analog while recording digital, or vice versa.

This story is from the November 2010 edition of Gadgets and Gizmos. Subscribe to the magazine for the Print Copy or iPad.

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