If you want to watch HDTV and local DTV channels on your PC or Mac, USB TV tuners are the simplest solution available. They’re easy to install and can use your existing TV antenna (if you already have one). If you have a cable box, you can turn your computer into an extra TV in just a few steps. Every USB tuner comes with software to help you record and find programs with ease. Some have Windows Media Center functionality built-in as well. As for antennas, it depends on how far away you are for the nearest transmitter. Here’s the top 3 USB tuners:
Hauppauge WINTV-HVR-950 TV Stick
The HVR-950 from Hauppauge is one of the most popular USB tuners around. It’s easy to install and works on almost any Windows desktop or notebook. Just plug it in into an open USB port, hook it up to your coax or antenna and install the included software. This tuner can receive both local DTV and HDTV, so there’s no need to have more than one USB stick if you wish to watch something in a higher resolution. The included software also lets you record TV shows, sports games and more.
Pinnacle Systems PCTV HD Stick
Pinnacle’s PCTV TV tuner is a simple device with feature-packed software. You can scan for TV programming, as well as record and pause Live TV if desired. This USB stick is capable of receiving digital TV in both SD and HD.
Diamond Multimedia TV Wonder HD 600 USB TV Tuner
The TV Wonder 600 from DM is just like the others above, but with one extra feature: the included software can also encoded your recordings so they can be export to the mobile device of your choice. The TV tuner work with all DTV channels that you can pick up on an amplified antenna.
When it comes to TV antennas, it’s hard to figure out which ones are the best. In short, it depends on your location. If your within 50 miles of a TV transmitter, any indoor antenna will get the job done. Beyond that, you’ll have to buy an outdoor one. Either way, make sure to grab one that’s amplified. Amplified TV antennas are able to pick up more channels and provide better picture quality than their non-amplified counterparts.
TV antenna installation isn’t as hard as it use to be. For outdoors, place the antenna at the highest point of your house or building. If you want one for indoors, it’s best to keep it close to the TV or PC so that adjustments can be made if necessary.
If you wish to buy a USB TV tuner, you’ll have to be quick. Many companies are no longer making these types of tuners due to low demand and popular steaming services such as Hulu and Netflix. If you still want one, you can get buy any USB TV tuner for under $100. TV antennas range from $15 for an indoor model to $130 for outdoor. Check with your local electronics retailer to figure out which one will work best for you.