How to turn your laptop into a TV
15 Jul, 2008, 12:08 pm IST
Is it possible to use TV tuner in laptops. I have a Sony Vaio VGN-CR36G/B laptop. What TV tuner would be best for my laptop and what would be its price?
… This is what one of our readers had asked in our ‘Expert Q&A’ section. And what we said in short was this:
You can connect an external USB TV tuner card to your laptop through its USB port. Check out Pinnacle PCTV 50e; this card would cost you around Rs 3,700.
For those not aware of what purpose a TV tuner card serves, we thought a detailed response might help:
Basics of TV tuner card
A TV tuner card could either be inbuilt -- that is it comes built into the laptop/computer itself, in the form of a PCI-bus expansion card that is fixed to the motherboard of the computer, or it could be an external one, which uses USB to connect to the computer. It's only seldom that laptops come equipped with an in-built TV tuner card, so that leaves most of us who want to convert our laptops into televisions, with the question: on what basis does one decide which external TV Tuner to buy?
The primary criterion in any buying decision is the budget. Deciding a rough budget will help you define your range. The price of TV tuner cards starts from Rs 1,200 and goes up to as high as Rs 10,500.
If you do not have a rough budget in mind and are very focused on features, you will have to learn what all can a TV tuner card offer. Most basic TV tuner cards allow your laptop to catch the TV signals. The more advanced ones will function as video-capture cards and allow you to record television shows. Even more advanced ones will allow you also to tune in to FM. You've been consistently missing out on your favourite shows, wondering why most of your favourite matches and serials are aired while you are at work? Worry not, there's a way to escape the effects of Murphy's Law in this case: There are TV tuner cards, the more advanced ones rather, that allow you set to pre-set the time and duration of the TV shows you want to record. A few TV tuners will also allow you to record videos in formats such as AVI, DivX, MPEG 1, MPEG 2, etc, but in any case, it has to be noted: the quality of video or audio will never be better than the quality of original input; as good or worse, but never better. And there are TV tuners that allow you to edit videos too. (Remixing videos, anyone?) The most advanced TV tuners would come with many of the said features, bringing full TV and radio entertainment to your laptop, enabling it to become an entertainment hub in the true sense. TV tuners come in different sizes. Obviously, the smaller and compact they are, better they are for people who like to shuffle around in their houses.
Key aspects to look out for
Softwares and drivers
Accessories with TV tuner box
Gadmei XGA TV Box: Belonging to a Taiwanese brand, this will cost you around Rs 2,000.
Frontech USB External TV Tuner card: Costs around Rs 1,800.
Techcom External TV Tuner card: Costs around Rs 1,500.
Those of you who are on a tight budget, but still keen enough on buying a card, you can explore some locally made cards - these will cost only around Rs 1,000. However, we would like to suggest you go with noteworthy brands and cards because it will get you your money's worth.