PC Digital TV Tuners: USB or PCI - Windows 7 advantage

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It has been long since computers left being plain beige office tool. These days in Windows 7, certain features tells us that entertainment is a permanent part of the package. So lets see some of the features that makes Windows 7 exciting.

Windows Media Center (WMC) is now a permanent feature of Windows operating system. Not only does it help manage all your Music, Picture and Video but you are able to make a good use of your TV tuner.

Let us see how:

WMC is able to recognize most Digital TV tuners (both USB and PCI). Pictured above you can see in the menu options 'recorded tv', 'guide' and 'live tv'.
When you first run the WMC you will need to set your tuner from the task menu option where the WMC searches for available channels. Then we are ready to go.

Lets see what happens when we click on the 'live tv' button.

We are taken straight to one of the TV Channels. There are some simple yet very handy control options present at the bottom. First the progress bar. It shows how far into the program we currently are. Also, the WMC buffers the channel for about 30 minutes. So if you pause or simply want to replay some bits you can. However, when the channel is changed this buffer is deleted and then next channel is buffered from then on.
Below are various control features including the record feature. Recording tv has never been easier, just click and off we go. The square icon next to the record button brings up the program guide. This can also be accessed from the main menu. Lets see that:

This is what the program guide looks like. All channels and name of the programs are written clearly. The blocks are proportioned to the time it runs for and the time line is shown just above the table. Also, by hovering the mouse over any of these program blocks, at the bottom we get a brief description about the show. Here in this example, the mouse was over Ten Digital's - Formula One and the information regarding it shows up at the bottom.
Live TV continues to play at the background should you want to return to it.


Now the fun begins.

With the program guide, it is possible to scroll right to see what programs are coming up next. Click and hold the right arrow, the programs will start scrolling faster and it is possible to see what is scheduled days into the future.

If one of the channels from the guide is clicked, we get a menu showing the program list of that channel. If any of the program is clicked from the list, we get the option to record. There are two options. One two record just one episode and second to record the entire series. The picture above shows the entire series of Top Gear is to be recorded (shown by multiple red dots, one dot for single episode). And it really is that simple, the WMC knows when to start and when to stop recording. And the recorded shows are managed in the library, lets see how:

When the 'recorded tv' is accessed from the menu we are presented with a this screen. Here all the recorded TV shows are ready for playing. The shows can be arranged by date, title, original air date, and shared. Just a click will bring up that recorded show. Also at the bottom left the current channel is shown.

Which Tuner

A USB Digital tuner can be useful for both laptops and desktops as they are very easy to use. All that needs to be done is plug in the tuner into the USB port and plug in the antenna into the tuner and its ready for use.

A more permanent solutions for desktops are the internal tuners.

Internal tuners are handy as once installed inside the desktop and the antenna is plugged in, it does not need any further attention. 

Not all digital tuners will work with WMC though. Please check before you purchase one.


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