Choosing a TV Tuner Card to Record Digital TV on PC

By | March 19, 2012

What is a TV Tuner Card?

A TV tuner card is a kind of television tuner that allows television signals to be received by a computer. Most TV tuners also function as video capture cards, allowing them to record television programs onto a hard disk much like the digital video recorder (DVR) does.

The interfaces for TV tuner cards are most commonly either PCI bus expansion card or the newer PCI Express (PCIe) bus for many modern cards, but some USB interface tuner cards are specially designed for laptop, which also works fine.

Why Buy a TV Tuner Card?

If you want to watch TV on PC, you might consider buying a TV tuner Card. When you hook up your cable or antenna to a television, all you’re essentially doing is connecting a signal to a monitor. All televisions are equipped with tuners that allow the monitor to decode the signal coming through the cable into comprehensible images and sound. Such a TV tuner card also allows you to record these signals digitally on your system. It performs much like a DVR device that records programs from your television.

Generally speaking, these TV tuner cards are not standard in PCs you buy off the shelf at your local electronics store. Therefore, you have to buy a TV tuner card from a third party or some professional TV tuner manufacturers. For personal, you can use a TV tuner to build HTPC. For business usage, some companies will buy the card for IPTV application.

How to choose a TV Tuner Card?

When choosing a TV tuner card, consider what you want to accomplish by installing this component on your computer’s motherboard. You should also ask yourself the following questions: Is the computer you currently own capable of supporting the tuner? Do you have the knowledge and skill to install it yourself? Are you planning to use the TV tuner as a replacement for cable, satellite or other television services? Each TV tuner card on our lineup has different features and capabilities; we rated and ranked all the best TV tuner cards on the market today. When our review of the best TV tuner cards ended, the Hauppauge WinTV HVR-2250, the TBS6984 PCIe DVB S2 TV Tuner Card and the AVerTVHD Bravo each claimed one of the top spots on our best TV tuner card comparisons and reviews. There are also several factors should consider on how to cut your home entertainment budget using this technology.


Most computers don’t have the latest and greatest operating system available. This is especially true in the Microsoft Windows universe. The best TV tuner cards not only work with the latest iteration of Windows, but also with past versions that still reside on a majority of computers currently in use. Some professional TV tuner producers, such as TBS, even offer the Linux drivers compatible, that’s big good news for Linux users. Linux TV tuner cards also will be one of spread in the future.

Picture Quality

High definition is the new standard for media in all forms. Unfortunately, a lot of technology has not caught up to this rich resolution. The best TV tuner cards pipe HD signals into your computer system in all their deep, colorful glory.

Help & Support

Even though a TV tuner card is easy to use and install, you can run into trouble occasionally. The best TV tuner cards are supported by their manufacturers with a warranty, and those companies provide technical support when necessary.

At the end of the day, a TV tuner card performs a simple yet powerful task. It routes television signals through your computer, allowing you to watch, record and store television shows and programs.